Anti-Intellectualism and the "Dumbing Down" of America

FreeFree Posts: 3,562

There is a growing anti-intellectual dumbing down of our culture

There is a growing and disturbing trend of anti-intellectual elitism in American culture. It’s the dismissal of science, the arts, and humanities and their replacement by entertainment, self-righteousness, ignorance, and deliberate gullibility.

Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason, says in an article in the Washington Post, "Dumbness, to paraphrase the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, has been steadily defined downward for several decades, by a combination of heretofore irresistible forces. These include the triumph of video culture over print culture; a disjunction between Americans' rising level of formal education and their shaky grasp of basic geography, science and history; and the fusion of anti-rationalism with anti-intellectualism."

There has been a long tradition of anti-intellectualism in America, unlike most other Western countries. Richard Hofstadter, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for his book, Anti-Intellectualism In American Life, describes how the vast underlying foundations of anti-elite, anti-reason and anti-science have been infused into America’s political and social fabric. Famous science fiction writer Isaac Asimov once said: "There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."

more at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201407/anti-intellectualism-and-the-dumbing-down-america
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Comments

  • PJ_SoulPJ_Soul Vancouver, BCPosts: 35,558
    edited June 2016
    Interesting topic. I definitely think it's a real phenomenon.... I've even noticed that there is a recent increase in actually shaming intellectualism and even education (we even see it here in the AMT sometimes).
    Post edited by PJ_Soul on
    With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy. ~ Desiderata
  • PJ_Soul said:

    Interesting topic. I definitely think it's a real phenomenon.... I've even noticed that is a recent increase in actually shaming intellectualism and even education (we even see it here in the AMT sometimes).

    I know.
    I get called an intellectual elitist all the time.

    Interesting topic though.
    Either we are alone in the universe, or we are not. Both ideas are overwhelming. AE
  • jeffbrjeffbr SeattlePosts: 5,362
    We can see the results of this just by looking at our Republican presidential candidate. The only way Trump has any support is the rise of anti-intellectuals. But is isn't just conservatives, or Republicans. Progressives are protesting any kind of speech on campus that may slightly offend someone, creating safe rooms, talking about microaggression and trigger words, etc... This isolation and coddling of our kids/students will perpetuate and worsen this anti-intellectualism.
    "I'll use the magic word - let's just shut the fuck up, please." EV, 04/13/08
  • PJ_SoulPJ_Soul Vancouver, BCPosts: 35,558
    jeffbr said:

    We can see the results of this just by looking at our Republican presidential candidate. The only way Trump has any support is the rise of anti-intellectuals. But is isn't just conservatives, or Republicans. Progressives are protesting any kind of speech on campus that may slightly offend someone, creating safe rooms, talking about microaggression and trigger words, etc... This isolation and coddling of our kids/students will perpetuate and worsen this anti-intellectualism.

    I totally agree. This isn't a small problem. This is a BIG problem with consequences that will have a dramatically harmful impact on everyone. Something needs to be done to counteract it..... I'm just not sure what. They tide towards stupidity is just so strong now, it will take a very concerted force to turn it. It may actually already be beyond prevention.
    With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy. ~ Desiderata
  • jeffbrjeffbr SeattlePosts: 5,362
    PJ_Soul said:

    jeffbr said:

    We can see the results of this just by looking at our Republican presidential candidate. The only way Trump has any support is the rise of anti-intellectuals. But is isn't just conservatives, or Republicans. Progressives are protesting any kind of speech on campus that may slightly offend someone, creating safe rooms, talking about microaggression and trigger words, etc... This isolation and coddling of our kids/students will perpetuate and worsen this anti-intellectualism.

    I totally agree. This isn't a small problem. This is a BIG problem with consequences that will have a dramatically harmful impact on everyone. Something needs to be done to counteract it..... I'm just not sure what. They tide towards stupidity is just so strong now, it will take a very concerted force to turn it. It may actually already be beyond prevention.
    Exactly. I worry that we're too late at this point as well. What we take for granted on the AMT is something that is feared in schools, on social media, and in normal discussions. We post our opinions and thoughts here expecting to be challenged on them, and ready to defend those opinions. But anti-intellectuals want nothing to do with that, and get offended if challenged. They not only want to be free to believe what they will, facts/science/reason be damned, but they expect you to accept it without question.
    "I'll use the magic word - let's just shut the fuck up, please." EV, 04/13/08
  • HesCalledDyerHesCalledDyer MarylandPosts: 8,313
    Respecting the English language and correcting people who make spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and other mistakes now makes one a "grammar nazi." I have no apologies for attempting to educate people so they don't look like dumb asses in their future commentary. The usual response is "It's just the internet, who cares?" Therein lies the problem - people just don't give a shit about learning.
  • PJ_SoulPJ_Soul Vancouver, BCPosts: 35,558

    Respecting the English language and correcting people who make spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and other mistakes now makes one a "grammar nazi." I have no apologies for attempting to educate people so they don't look like dumb asses in their future commentary. The usual response is "It's just the internet, who cares?" Therein lies the problem - people just don't give a shit about learning.

    That is true too! And forget about having a conversation online and trying to tell people about why you're qualified to comment. One would not dare to inform people that they actually have a degree in the subject being discussed because everyone will respond with a group attack, claiming that the person with the applicable education is a know it all.
    With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy. ~ Desiderata
  • hedonisthedonist standing on the edge of foreverPosts: 17,660
    I like wordsmiths :)

    From here, among various components, seems mostly about mental laziness and lack of common sense...basic education too. Learning how to get shit done right, caring about getting shit done right, then actually getting shit done right - whether speaking or writing or working through a situation...whatever.

    Your personal ethics, accountability, self-respect.

    Someone's moving out of my building (home). Movers laid down and taped protective carpeting, but there are rolls and bubbles all over the pathway. We have a couple of people in walkers and wheelchairs on my floor who could get seriously hurt. Even non-disabled people. How do you do a job like that, see the shit quality of your work, and walk away oblivious or just not caring?



    Sidenote - it's interesting how anti-intellectualism seems like a nice way of calling someone an idiot. I'm going to try that next time.

    "You fucking anti-intellectual!"
  • PJ_SoulPJ_Soul Vancouver, BCPosts: 35,558
    Lol, and their response just might proudly be, "Damn straight!"
    With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy. ~ Desiderata
  • josevolutionjosevolution Posts: 16,485
    hedonist said:

    I like wordsmiths :)

    From here, among various components, seems mostly about mental laziness and lack of common sense...basic education too. Learning how to get shit done right, caring about getting shit done right, then actually getting shit done right - whether speaking or writing or working through a situation...whatever.

    Your personal ethics, accountability, self-respect.

    Someone's moving out of my building (home). Movers laid down and taped protective carpeting, but there are rolls and bubbles all over the pathway. We have a couple of people in walkers and wheelchairs on my floor who could get seriously hurt. Even non-disabled people. How do you do a job like that, see the shit quality of your work, and walk away oblivious or just not caring?



    Sidenote - it's interesting how anti-intellectualism seems like a nice way of calling someone an idiot. I'm going to try that next time.

    "You fucking anti-intellectual!"

    Yeah love that lol
    jesus greets me looks just like me ....
  • WhatYouTaughtMeWhatYouTaughtMe I have no idea what's going on right now!Posts: 4,128

    PJ_Soul said:

    Interesting topic. I definitely think it's a real phenomenon.... I've even noticed that is a recent increase in actually shaming intellectualism and even education (we even see it here in the AMT sometimes).

    I know.
    I get called an intellectual elitist all the time.

    Interesting topic though.
    That is hilarious. Seriously, bravo. :rofl:
  • Merkin BallerMerkin Baller Posts: 2,517
    Our evening news is doing their part.

  • hedonisthedonist standing on the edge of foreverPosts: 17,660
    Ugh - sad.
  • MalrothMalroth broken down chevroletPosts: 1,402
    Smart people need dumb people or they wouldn't be smart.
    Love us dummies. :wink:
    The worst of times..they don't phase me,
    even if I look and act really crazy.
  • hedonisthedonist standing on the edge of foreverPosts: 17,660
    And vice versa :yin_yang:
  • Go BeaversGo Beavers Posts: 5,318
    What would be dumb would be accepting that there's a "growing" anti-intellectualism in the country without scientific evidence to support the claim. This would include a valid definition of dumbing down as well as a valid measurement device/survey. This of course would have to be done longitudinally, over time, in order to see if there was a trend. Otherwise, all we have is someone with a Phd writing a Get Off My Lawn! article.
  • What would be dumb would be accepting that there's a "growing" anti-intellectualism in the country without scientific evidence to support the claim. This would include a valid definition of dumbing down as well as a valid measurement device/survey. This of course would have to be done longitudinally, over time, in order to see if there was a trend. Otherwise, all we have is someone with a Phd writing a Get Off My Lawn! article.

    A great sign to have on your lawn down under would be "I fought AMT and I won".
    Either we are alone in the universe, or we are not. Both ideas are overwhelming. AE
  • InHiding80InHiding80 Upland,CAPosts: 7,623
    edited June 2016
    Its as if people, especially Trumphadists, believe that you can't be politically correct without being a nazi douchebag which is a bunch of crap.

    Yet these are the same people who hate un PC philosophies like LGBT rights, atheism, abortion and Hollywood movies that don't star Kirk Cameron.
    Post edited by InHiding80 on
    RIP America (1776-2016)
  • InHiding80InHiding80 Upland,CAPosts: 7,623
    edited June 2016
    jeffbr said:

    We can see the results of this just by looking at our Republican presidential candidate. The only way Trump has any support is the rise of anti-intellectuals. But is isn't just conservatives, or Republicans. Progressives are protesting any kind of speech on campus that may slightly offend someone, creating safe rooms, talking about microaggression and trigger words, etc... This isolation and coddling of our kids/students will perpetuate and worsen this anti-intellectualism.

    Exactly what I mentioned in the post above about the progressives. Both sides need to realize you can be un PC without being an irrational jerk. This new breed of PC millennial liberals are just as bad as the Trump fans. They'd be too scared of comedians like Carlin and Lewis Black now.
    Post edited by InHiding80 on
    RIP America (1776-2016)
  • InHiding80InHiding80 Upland,CAPosts: 7,623
    edited June 2016

    What would be dumb would be accepting that there's a "growing" anti-intellectualism in the country without scientific evidence to support the claim. This would include a valid definition of dumbing down as well as a valid measurement device/survey. This of course would have to be done longitudinally, over time, in order to see if there was a trend. Otherwise, all we have is someone with a Phd writing a Get Off My Lawn! article.

    Trump being the front runner isn't scientific enough for you? :disappointed: If it quacks like anti intellectualism, it is. Spare me the Gran Torino crap.
    Post edited by InHiding80 on
    RIP America (1776-2016)
  • What would be dumb would be accepting that there's a "growing" anti-intellectualism in the country without scientific evidence to support the claim. This would include a valid definition of dumbing down as well as a valid measurement device/survey. This of course would have to be done longitudinally, over time, in order to see if there was a trend. Otherwise, all we have is someone with a Phd writing a Get Off My Lawn! article.

    Trump being the front runner isn't scientific enough for you? :disappointed: If it quacks like anti intellectualism, it is. Spare me the Gran Torino crap.
    Since Americans are so intellectual how come it has taken thus far to rid Trump?
    or should I say begin to rid Trump?
    Either we are alone in the universe, or we are not. Both ideas are overwhelming. AE
  • what dreamswhat dreams Posts: 915
    I think what we have is a failure to listen and LEARN from others. I actually think people may be as smart as they have ever been, but people suffer from a lack of empathy. We don't see intellectualism in others because we don't believe others might know something we don't know. It's sad to me because I'm not so selfish about what I want for the world. I get so impatient with ideological viewponts, both liberal and conservative. The real frustratuon for me is that liberals will project that they are open-minded, but when you talk to them seriously, they're really not any more open than conservatives. I know that as soon as I start arguing a contrarian point of view, people put me in a category and stop reasoning their way through real life to the point that I just want to stop talking because people just can't see past their blinders.

    I don't ever want to be right just to be right. I want people to know that there are multiple points of view that can be right at the same time. Life is not a multiple choice test. I pretty much am always trying to get at the truth that will suit the most people. This forum is not a good marker for that, I can say with comfortable certainty. People in general fall in the gray, and this is a very black and white forum. It's hard to be the contrarian in this forum.
  • Go BeaversGo Beavers Posts: 5,318

    What would be dumb would be accepting that there's a "growing" anti-intellectualism in the country without scientific evidence to support the claim. This would include a valid definition of dumbing down as well as a valid measurement device/survey. This of course would have to be done longitudinally, over time, in order to see if there was a trend. Otherwise, all we have is someone with a Phd writing a Get Off My Lawn! article.

    Trump being the front runner isn't scientific enough for you? :disappointed: If it quacks like anti intellectualism, it is. Spare me the Gran Torino crap.
    Trump being the Republican nominee, not the front runner, isn't a sign of growing anit-intellectualism, it's a sign of the republican party being a complete mess. Trump had the votes of about 15-20% of the population at the start of the primaries. He would have had this if he ran 20 - 30 years ago, maybe even a larger percentage. Since he was running against 12 or so others, this split the vote amongst the rest. The republicans have acted like kids on the play ground for the last 8 years, and the bully rose to the top.
  • Go BeaversGo Beavers Posts: 5,318

    What would be dumb would be accepting that there's a "growing" anti-intellectualism in the country without scientific evidence to support the claim. This would include a valid definition of dumbing down as well as a valid measurement device/survey. This of course would have to be done longitudinally, over time, in order to see if there was a trend. Otherwise, all we have is someone with a Phd writing a Get Off My Lawn! article.

    Trump being the front runner isn't scientific enough for you? :disappointed: If it quacks like anti intellectualism, it is. Spare me the Gran Torino crap.
    Since Americans are so intellectual how come it has taken thus far to rid Trump?
    or should I say begin to rid Trump?
    I said there's no trend of growing anti-intellectualism. Trump isn't going to win if he's the nominee. People that are voting for him or saying they will are the ones who like him, the ones who vote R no matter what, and the ones who hate Hillary.
  • jeffbrjeffbr SeattlePosts: 5,362

    What would be dumb would be accepting that there's a "growing" anti-intellectualism in the country without scientific evidence to support the claim. This would include a valid definition of dumbing down as well as a valid measurement device/survey. This of course would have to be done longitudinally, over time, in order to see if there was a trend. Otherwise, all we have is someone with a Phd writing a Get Off My Lawn! article.

    Trump being the front runner isn't scientific enough for you? :disappointed: If it quacks like anti intellectualism, it is. Spare me the Gran Torino crap.
    Since Americans are so intellectual how come it has taken thus far to rid Trump?
    or should I say begin to rid Trump?
    I said there's no trend of growing anti-intellectualism. Trump isn't going to win if he's the nominee. People that are voting for him or saying they will are the ones who like him, the ones who vote R no matter what, and the ones who hate Hillary.
    What would be dumb would be accepting that there isn't a dumbing down without scientific evidence to support the claim. This would include a valid definition of dumbing down as well as a valid measurement device/survey.

    Or we could just agree that people are sharing opinions and empirical observations. We just happen to disagree. I am pretty confident that there is a growing anti-intellectualism based on things I've read and observed. Appealing to the lowest common denominator in politics, banning/limiting speech and expression on college campuses, Emmy award winning reality TV, the disappearance of newspapers in favor of 140 character tweets, are just a few of the many, many things I see that point to a dumbing down.
    "I'll use the magic word - let's just shut the fuck up, please." EV, 04/13/08
  • PJ_SoulPJ_Soul Vancouver, BCPosts: 35,558

    jeffbr said:

    We can see the results of this just by looking at our Republican presidential candidate. The only way Trump has any support is the rise of anti-intellectuals. But is isn't just conservatives, or Republicans. Progressives are protesting any kind of speech on campus that may slightly offend someone, creating safe rooms, talking about microaggression and trigger words, etc... This isolation and coddling of our kids/students will perpetuate and worsen this anti-intellectualism.

    Exactly what I mentioned in the post above about the progressives. Both sides need to realize you can be un PC without being an irrational jerk. This new breed of PC millennial liberals are just as bad as the Trump fans. They'd be too scared of comedians like Carlin and Lewis Black now.
    Well let's not exaggerate. It's not as bad as all that. There are still very controversial, un-PC comedians who are very, very popular right now.
    With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy. ~ Desiderata
  • FoxyRedLaFoxyRedLa Lauren / MIPosts: 4,215
    Too many big words.
    Oh please let it rain today.
    Those that can be trusted can change their mind.
  • Jason PJason P Posts: 16,291
    Me no dumb.
  • seanwonseanwon Albany, NYPosts: 194


    I said there's no trend of growing anti-intellectualism.

    Yeah, I don't know. I seem to hear a lot of Conservatives attacking education in recent years. Telling people college is a waste of time because the professors are all "commies", and they are teaching all our kids to be "Socialists". I don't recall hearing that talk 10 years ago, it seems to be a somewhat recent thing.

    1996: 9/29 Randall's Island 2, 10/1 Buffalo
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    2008: 6/27 Hartford
    2009: 10/27 Philadelphia 1
    2010: 5/15 Hartford, 5/21 MSG 2
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    2016: 5/2 MSG 2, 8/5 Fenway 1, 11/7 Temple of the Dog MSG
  • cottagesteezecottagesteeze Hudson, WIPosts: 118
    seanwon said:


    I said there's no trend of growing anti-intellectualism.

    Yeah, I don't know. I seem to hear a lot of Conservatives attacking education in recent years. Telling people college is a waste of time because the professors are all "commies", and they are teaching all our kids to be "Socialists". I don't recall hearing that talk 10 years ago, it seems to be a somewhat recent thing.

    I'm a recent college grad and have been talked down to in political discussion for the fact that I graduated college. I went to school for engineering, yet some people still insist that my political views all came from my liberal hippy socialist professors..
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