anti-intellectualism

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The furious fulminations of the Teabagger movement [about which I'll have more to say later] demonstrate their passionate intensity, to be sure--but to what end? Certainly not either knowledge or the desire to obtain it--more like a rabid determination to maintain their myths at all costs, fervently praying to keep the reality-based community at bay. The Onion's take on the anti-intellectual know-nothings demonstrates yet again the power of satire:

When told that the proposed "Ground Zero mosque" is actually a community center two blocks north of the site that would include, in addition to a public prayer space, a 500-seat auditorium, a restaurant, and athletic facilities, Gentries shook his head and said, "I know all I'm going to let myself know."

Gentries explained that it "didn't take long" to find out as much about the tenets of Islam as he needed to. [...] "All Muslims are at war with America, and I will resist any attempt to challenge that assertion with potentially illuminating facts," said Gentries, who threatened to leave the room if presented with the number of Muslims who live peacefully in the United States, serve in the country's armed forces, or were victims themselves of the 9/11 attacks. "Period."

[...]

Over the past decade, Gentries said he has taken pains to avoid personal interactions or media that might have the potential to compromise his point of view. He told reporters that the closest he had come to confronting a contrary standpoint was tuning in to the first few seconds of an interview with a moderate Muslim cleric before hastily turning off the television.

"I almost gave in and listened to that guy defend Islam with words I didn't want to hear," Gentries said. "But then I remembered how much easier it is to live in a world of black-and-white in which I can assign the label of 'other' to someone and use him as a vessel for all my fears and insecurities."

Added Gentries, "That really put things back into perspective."

The more you know, the more you realize that wingnuts are full of shit--but the less believable you are to them because, on a fundamental level, they don't trust intellectuals. Any of the associated trappings--formal education, intellectual curiosity, basic erudition, or a willingness to research dubious assertions rather than accept them as gospel--are likely to make their minds snap shut faster than a Venus Flytrap.

Paul Waldman looks at today's know-nothings, writing in "They're with Stupid" that Teabaggers need constant reminders that "the elite at whom they need to be angry is not the economic elite:"

No, the elite scorned by the blue-collar poseurs is the cultural elite, the college professors and cosmopolitan urban dwellers, the know-it-alls who are insufficiently contemptuous of foreigners and insufficiently devoted to your religion. [...] Experts and the highly educated can and do make plenty of mistakes, of course. But the anti-intellectual stance presumes that those with detailed knowledge of things like policy are morally inferior to those who would rather feel things than know things.

Their privileging of revelation over reason is but one of the problems to which they succumb--but one that affects many of their interactions.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on August 31, 2010 7:33 PM.

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