Anti-Intellectualism and Reverse Snobbery in U.S.

Locked
Barry
Posts: 10230
Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2004 3:50 pm

Anti-Intellectualism and Reverse Snobbery in U.S.

Post by Barry » Tue May 24, 2005 12:58 pm

From the stem cell thread:

Ralph wrote:
Underlying Bush's opposition to stem cell research, beyond the obvious catering to the Christian right, is a truly profound anti-intellectualism which makes science especially suspicious.

In the long run, scientific research always advances but a president who might secretly believe William Jennings Bryan was right when he testified in Tennessee long ago can hurt progress while giving scientists of other nations invaluable lead time.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Barry wrote:
Couldn't agree more, Ralph.

That strong strain of anti-intellectualism is one of the things about the U.S. that disturbs me the most (and it's why I thought Bush would be very tough to beat early on in '99 and '00 when I started seeing him on TV.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jack C. to Barry:
Excuse me?? Now it's not just Bush who is "anti-intellectual," but the US generally?? That is total nonsense! To equate religious people with anti-intellectualism is offensive to me and I'm not religious. (And you laugh at religious people who feel as if they are under assault)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ralph to Jack C:

And while I certainly agree that there can be many moral issues about many scientific endeavors, with regard to stem cell research MY take is that the religious objection is primary for Bush. And that objection, however central it may be to the President's own values, ought not to be the basis for opposing scientific research.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jack C. to Ralph:
I didn't say that YOU referred to the US that way. I said that Barry did, and I don't think I misread his post.



-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Barry wrote:

Jack,

I'm very worried when I see you misread my post. Where do I refer to "the US generally?" Please read my post (and that of others) as closely as you do a demand for damages letter to a client.


I didn't say that YOU referred to the US that way. I said that Barry did, and I don't think I misread his post.


You're absolutely right that you didn't misread my post (although you did read something into it that I didn't say.......that being equating being religious with being anti-intellectual.......whether it's a coincidence or un-related that there is such strong religiousity as well as this anti-intellectualism in the U.S., I don't know). And I stand by it 100 percent. I've said many times before that there is much to admire about the U.S. It's one of the best places on Earth to be. But I've got some real problems with certain cultural aspects of the country, and anti-intellectualsm (encompassing anti-cultural life in general in a broader sense) is one of them. Now obviously, not every American fits this description, but plenty do. And what's more, they're openly proud of it.

I ask again, how many of you have never gotten a sarcastic response when you tell someone you're going to the symphony or listen mainly to classical music? How many Americans never leave their county, let alone their state or country, in spite of having the means to do so (including Bush, who from what I gather, either never or almost never left the U.S. in spite of having millions of dollars at his disposal.........I don't say the man is stupid.......and disagree with those who do, but he is an anti-intellectual who only displays an interest in anything other than Texas, baseball and oil because he has to in order to function in his job.........and millions of Americans love him and identify with him because for it......I think it's one of the biggest reasons that he was such a formidable candidate even before 9/11). You can call it whatever you like or ignore it if you choose (I know you wear blinders 24/7 with regard to ever seeing or saying anything negative about your country). I don't really care. I'm simply stating what I think is reality.
Last edited by Barry on Tue May 24, 2005 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

Barry
Posts: 10230
Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2004 3:50 pm

Post by Barry » Tue May 24, 2005 1:00 pm

As I said on the other thread, I was sidetracking from the stem-cell issue into a larger issue on American culture and it was causing confusion.

So if anyone disgrees with me, better that they say so on here.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Post by Corlyss_D » Tue May 24, 2005 1:32 pm

You should a asked me to split the thread. You did a nice job capturing the dialog, but it looks like at least one attribution is missing, i.e., just before this sentence and the paragraph that follows:

I didn't say that YOU referred to the US that way. I said that Barry did, and I don't think I misread his post.

If you could make whatever correction there needs to be if there needs to be one, we'll resume fighting at 10 paces . . . .
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

Barry
Posts: 10230
Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2004 3:50 pm

Post by Barry » Tue May 24, 2005 1:43 pm

There. That's a little better.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

JackC
Posts: 2987
Joined: Tue May 20, 2003 10:57 am

Post by JackC » Tue May 24, 2005 3:43 pm

Barry Z wrote:As I said on the other thread, I was sidetracking from the stem-cell issue into a larger issue on American culture and it was causing confusion.

So if anyone disgrees with me, better that they say so on here.
It just seems so utterly senseless to compare the degree of "anti-intellectualism" in the US to that in other countries. In fact, it seems to me that you are buying into the worst European stereotypes of the US. Shall we have a discussion of common German stereotypes? Should we have a discussion now about whether the French take as many baths as they should?

Everyone country has it's dullards and it bright stars, its good people and its pigs.

The test of whether you got a sarcastic remark from someone because you said you listened to classical music isn't realy very telling. Does the fact that Germans during WWII listened to classical music have anything to do with whether they were "intellectual." Who cares if one is "intellectual", but still gases innocent women and children.

The fact is that the US continues to lead in math and science (although you can argue whether that lead is slipping). The fact is that the rest of the world watches our movies and, regrettably, can't seem to get enough of our trashy mass pop culture. Why do these intellectually superior countries do this???

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Tue May 24, 2005 3:54 pm

Whilst I consider Aussies as anti-intellectual as anybody, I have to say that the nature of "your" mass popular culture has increasingly included Aussies (the list of actors and directors is quite long), Indians (as in Bollywood, the true movie factory of the world) and Europeans. Also, many Hollywood movies are simply poor remakes of European and Asian movies. And Hollywood knows that they rarely make a domestic profit and so have to make movies suitable for overseas release.

Globalization cuts both ways, IMHO.
Last edited by Brendan on Tue May 24, 2005 3:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

herman
Posts: 719
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:00 am
Location: Dutch Sierra

Post by herman » Tue May 24, 2005 3:54 pm

1 A lot of Frenchmen, Italians and Spaniards, certainly over age 40 are fairly OK with never having left their country for a vacation. They like it fine where thy are.

2 Yes, the US still leads in terms of big bucks research at the great universities. It would be interesting though to check what prportion of those researchers are US born & raised.

JackC
Posts: 2987
Joined: Tue May 20, 2003 10:57 am

Post by JackC » Tue May 24, 2005 4:03 pm

herman wrote:1 A lot of Frenchmen, Italians and Spaniards, certainly over age 40 are fairly OK with never having left their country for a vacation. They like it fine where thy are.

2 Yes, the US still leads in terms of big bucks research at the great universities. It would be interesting though to check what prportion of those researchers are US born & raised.
What difference does it make where they were born? The US is full of people looking for better opportunities to pursue their goals. They decided to come here to engage in their research. Ask them why they would leave such "intellectual" countries to come to this country full of anti-intellectual hicks?? If things were so wonderfully intellectual in the countries of origin, why did they leave?

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Post by Corlyss_D » Tue May 24, 2005 4:04 pm

herman wrote:1 A lot of Frenchmen, Italians and Spaniards, certainly over age 40 are fairly OK with never having left their country for a vacation. They like it fine where thy are.
Don't they realize that makes them incurious, self-satisfied, complacent, ignorant, shallow, red-state-like people? :wink:
2 Yes, the US still leads in terms of big bucks research at the great universities. It would be interesting though to check what prportion of those researchers are US born & raised.
I agree with where you want to go with this thought, but really practically speaking as long as they come here (which so many do) and do their work for US companies or the US government, who cares? I deplore the state of science and math education in this country but it's likely to stay that way until we figure out some way to break the stranglehold American teachers' unions have on the education system here.
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Tue May 24, 2005 4:06 pm

Well, I have lived in other countries, not because I hated Australia but because of other factors: 1. The military posted Dad there. 2. I wanted to experience what it was like to live in Asia, Europe and America without ever despising my own country or thinking less of it. Personally, I enjoyed it and intend to live overseas again before returing to the land of Oz I adore so much. People move for all kinds of reasons.

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Post by Corlyss_D » Tue May 24, 2005 4:11 pm

Brendan wrote:Also, many Hollywood movies are simply poor remakes of European and Asian movies.
Well, stealing with pride goes both ways too. The entire spaghetti western virus were remakes of western movies/japanese movies. The 7 Samurai was a tribute to American westerns, which was then copied in the Magnificent 7. We got an artistic "Oceanic Conveyor" going here.
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

Barry
Posts: 10230
Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2004 3:50 pm

Post by Barry » Tue May 24, 2005 4:14 pm

JackC wrote: It just seems so utterly senseless to compare the degree of "anti-intellectualism" in the US to that in other countries.
I didn't compare it, Jack. You're SO overprotective of the U.S. and ready to pounce on anything that you perceive as even remotely pro-European, that you are reading things that I didn't write.

Were I to guess, I imagine that the average European is more interested in culture (as opposed to pop culture) than the average American and probably less hostile and distrustful than the average American, but I'm not sure about that by any means.
Last edited by Barry on Tue May 24, 2005 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Tue May 24, 2005 4:16 pm

The 7 Samurai was a very long time ago now Corlyss, although I do take your point. I was thinking more of horrors like City of Angels. How could they take Wim Wenders' masterpiece Das Himmel uber Berlin and do that to it? Or remaking The Return of Martin Guerre into that monstrosity with Jodie Foster and Richard Gere? Or turning The Vanishing from one of the most deeply disturbing movies ever made into a pale, limp, wimpy mockery of itself?

I should have said "Don't get me started!" but too late!

JackC
Posts: 2987
Joined: Tue May 20, 2003 10:57 am

Post by JackC » Tue May 24, 2005 4:18 pm

Also, another thing to consider about the allegedly superior intellectual culture of Europe. Almost every economic analysis that I have seen agrees that, in relative terms, Europe is in very deep economic trouble. It is in danger of falling further and further behind the US, and now China and India too. The social model in France, Germany and elsewhere is not sustainable, even as they fight to hold onto it.

No doubt regardless how far they fall, in 50 years there will still be French phiolsophers on the left bank articulating how superior their culture and lives are to the lives crude, anti-intellectual and cultureless Americans. Yet, if the trends continue and continue to fall further and further behind, the one thing that is certain is that more European "elites" will seek opportunity here.
Last edited by JackC on Tue May 24, 2005 4:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

JackC
Posts: 2987
Joined: Tue May 20, 2003 10:57 am

Post by JackC » Tue May 24, 2005 4:18 pm

Barry Z wrote:
JackC wrote: It just seems so utterly senseless to compare the degree of "anti-intellectualism" in the US to that in other countries.
I didn't compare it, Jack. I think this is a case of you being SO overprotective of the U.S. and ready to pounce on anything that you perceive as even remotely pro-European, that you are reading things that aren't there.

Were I to guess, I imagine that the average European is more interested in culture (as opposed to pop culture) than the average American and probably less hostile and distrustful than the average American, but I'm not sure about that by any means.
With 300 million Americans and 450 million Europeans, who cares about the "average American or the "average European"?? No one in the US or in Europe has to hang out with any of the anti-intellectual uncultured types that annoy you.

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Post by Corlyss_D » Tue May 24, 2005 4:29 pm

Brendan wrote:The 7 Samurai was a very long time ago now Corlyss, although I do take your point. I was thinking more of horrors like City of Angels. How could they take Wim Wenders' masterpiece Das Himmel uber Berlin and do that to it? Or remaking The Return of Martin Guerre into that monstrosity with Jodie Foster and Richard Gere? Or turning The Vanishing from one of the most deeply disturbing movies ever made into a pale, limp, wimpy mockery of itself?

I should have said "Don't get me started!" but too late!
Shall we split off a movie thread? We don't talk about movies enough here.

Is it that remakes per se are trashy? I tend to think that. I prefer 7 Samurai to Magnificent 7, but I do watch both. I preferred Fawlty Towers to the stillborn American knockoff. Ditto The Office. But I think they fail for artistic reasons, perhaps not related to the remake's country of origin. The director may say that Bend it Like Beckham is a universal story, but it could never be convincingly recast into a state that had no credible history of immigrant assimilation.
Last edited by Corlyss_D on Tue May 24, 2005 4:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

Barry
Posts: 10230
Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2004 3:50 pm

Post by Barry » Tue May 24, 2005 4:29 pm

Jack,
"Average" was probably a bad choice of words. But nonetheless, I didn't make the comparison that you thought you read and which led you on to another anti-Europe rant.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

JackC
Posts: 2987
Joined: Tue May 20, 2003 10:57 am

Post by JackC » Tue May 24, 2005 4:38 pm

Barry Z wrote:Jack,
"Average" was probably a bad choice of words. But nonetheless, I didn't make the comparison that you thought you read and which led you on to another anti-Europe rant.
I don't think my anti-Europe rants are any more frequent that your rants about US culture.

Barry
Posts: 10230
Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2004 3:50 pm

Post by Barry » Tue May 24, 2005 4:51 pm

Nor do I. We both have our own pet issues.

i just think it would be nice that if you're going to rant at me, at least do it about something I've actually written.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Post by Corlyss_D » Tue May 24, 2005 6:25 pm

Okay, then its settled. You can both rant at each other as long as one's rants don't exceed in number those of the other. Maybe we could copy these repeats to a file, like the old joke about jokes. We could just shout at each other:

"Oh yeah? Well, #5 and #12, and if you don't like it you can #28."

"If you don't get out of my face with #5, I'm going to come back at you with #32 and #18 because any fool knows #2."
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

RebLem
Posts: 9117
Joined: Tue May 17, 2005 1:06 pm
Location: Albuquerque, NM, USA 87112, 2 blocks west of the Breaking Bad carwash.
Contact:

Anti-intellectualism in America

Post by RebLem » Wed May 25, 2005 2:21 am

Of course, anti-intellectualism is to be found everywhere. But only in America have anti-intellectuals politically organized to demand, and get, places at the tables where public policy is made.

BTW, someone made a snide comment about William Jennings Bryan. And certainly, in the context of the side he represented in the Scopes trial, he deserves that contempt. Scopes, of course, went on to pursue a profitable career as a geologist for American oil companies, mostly in Venezuela, using the knowledge for which Tennessee condemned him to find oil.

The result? Thanks to Scopes, and many other non-Creationist geologists, today's yahoos have enough gas and oil to drive to courthouses all over the country to file their silly little lawsuits.

But let me get back to Bryan. He served as Woodrow Wilson's Secretary of State for a time. After the sinking of the Lusitania, Wilson protested to the German government. Bryan, a pacifist, pointed out that the German government had placed ads in the press saying they were going to blow the thing up because it was carrying weapons to the UK. The UK denied it for many years, but in the 1970's, I believe, it finally came out that it was true. Despite the troglodytic stand he took in the Scopes trial, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Bryan because of the fact that he resigned as Secretary of State rather than be a part of Wilson's policy on this issue.
Don't drink and drive. You might spill it.--J. Eugene Baker, aka my late father
"We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term."--Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S. Carolina.
"Racism is America's Original Sin."--Francis Cardinal George, former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago.

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26867
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Post by jbuck919 » Wed May 25, 2005 2:54 am

A classic on this topic that puts it in historical perspective is Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by the historian Richard Hofstadter.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Ralph
Dittersdorf Specialist & CMG NY Host
Posts: 20996
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:54 am
Location: Paradise on Earth, New York, NY

Re: Anti-intellectualism in America

Post by Ralph » Wed May 25, 2005 5:43 am

RebLem wrote:Of course, anti-intellectualism is to be found everywhere. But only in America have anti-intellectuals politically organized to demand, and get, places at the tables where public policy is made.

BTW, someone made a snide comment about William Jennings Bryan. And certainly, in the context of the side he represented in the Scopes trial, he deserves that contempt. Scopes, of course, went on to pursue a profitable career as a geologist for American oil companies, mostly in Venezuela, using the knowledge for which Tennessee condemned him to find oil.

The result? Thanks to Scopes, and many other non-Creationist geologists, today's yahoos have enough gas and oil to drive to courthouses all over the country to file their silly little lawsuits.

But let me get back to Bryan. He served as Woodrow Wilson's Secretary of State for a time. After the sinking of the Lusitania, Wilson protested to the German government. Bryan, a pacifist, pointed out that the German government had placed ads in the press saying they were going to blow the thing up because it was carrying weapons to the UK. The UK denied it for many years, but in the 1970's, I believe, it finally came out that it was true. Despite the troglodytic stand he took in the Scopes trial, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Bryan because of the fact that he resigned as Secretary of State rather than be a part of Wilson's policy on this issue.
*****

I believe you refer to my comment on Bryan which I don't think was snide. Bryan was a multifaceted man whose life merits study and, to a certain degree, respect. I don't think he should be viewed with contempt for his commanding role in the Scopes trial. Rather he should be viewed seriously as a brilliant advocate of a true faith-based rejection not simply of knowledge but of the intellectual processes that animate research.

As to the sinking of the Lusitania, at that time unrestricted submarine warfare and the attacking of merchant vessels by torpedo was considered outside the permissible scope of warfare. Of course ONLY Germany had a need for submarines and only the British had an abundance of relevant floating targets.

The famous German embassy ad advising those who travelled on British ships of their possible peril was obviously disregarded by those choosing to make such trans-Atlantic voyages.
Image

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

karlhenning
Composer-in-Residence
Posts: 9805
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2005 11:12 am
Location: Boston, MA
Contact:

Post by karlhenning » Wed May 25, 2005 7:58 am

jbuck919 wrote:A classic on this topic that puts it in historical perspective is Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by the historian Richard Hofstadter.
Thanks for the recommendation!
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston, Massachusetts
http://members.tripod.com/~Karl_P_Henning/
http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
Published by Lux Nova Press
http://www.luxnova.com/

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Post by Corlyss_D » Wed May 25, 2005 1:29 pm

karlhenning wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:A classic on this topic that puts it in historical perspective is Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by the historian Richard Hofstadter.
Thanks for the recommendation!
It's pretty dated in terms of current developments. For a more recent update, try What's Wrong with Kansas? by Tom Frank. The bottom line is, red-staters are incurious, reactionary, willfully ignorant, xenophobic, selfish, foolish morons because we don't agree with the blue-staters.
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26867
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Post by jbuck919 » Wed May 25, 2005 1:43 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:It's pretty dated in terms of current developments. For a more recent update, try What's Wrong with Kansas? by Tom Frank. The bottom line is, red-staters are incurious, reactionary, willfully ignorant, xenophobic, selfish, foolish morons because we don't agree with the blue-staters.
Well, you did say it was an update.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Ralph
Dittersdorf Specialist & CMG NY Host
Posts: 20996
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:54 am
Location: Paradise on Earth, New York, NY

Post by Ralph » Wed May 25, 2005 1:55 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
karlhenning wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:A classic on this topic that puts it in historical perspective is Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by the historian Richard Hofstadter.
Thanks for the recommendation!
It's pretty dated in terms of current developments. For a more recent update, try What's Wrong with Kansas? by Tom Frank. The bottom line is, red-staters are incurious, reactionary, willfully ignorant, xenophobic, selfish, foolish morons because we don't agree with the blue-staters.
*****

Hofstadter provides a coherent historical model that more recent books lack.
Image

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Post by Corlyss_D » Wed May 25, 2005 2:09 pm

Ralph wrote: Hofstadter provides a coherent historical model that more recent books lack.
I didn't imply it was an either-or decision. One needs to read them together to get a total picture of the current state of affairs.
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

Ralph
Dittersdorf Specialist & CMG NY Host
Posts: 20996
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:54 am
Location: Paradise on Earth, New York, NY

Post by Ralph » Wed May 25, 2005 2:10 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
Ralph wrote: Hofstadter provides a coherent historical model that more recent books lack.
I didn't imply it was an either-or decision. One needs to read them together to get a total picture of the current state of affairs.
*****

Have you seen the cult flick favorite of the Hofstadter book starring John Wayne?
Image

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

Kevin R
Posts: 1672
Joined: Wed Nov 17, 2004 1:15 am
Location: MO

Post by Kevin R » Thu May 26, 2005 1:11 am

We should all recall Tocqueville's observations about cultural pursuits in a democratic society.
"Free trade, one of the greatest blessings which a government can confer on a people, is in almost every country unpopular."

-Thomas Macaulay

Kevin R
Posts: 1672
Joined: Wed Nov 17, 2004 1:15 am
Location: MO

Re: Anti-intellectualism in America

Post by Kevin R » Thu May 26, 2005 1:20 am

RebLem wrote:Of course, anti-intellectualism is to be found everywhere. But only in America have anti-intellectuals politically organized to demand, and get, places at the tables where public policy is made.

BTW, someone made a snide comment about William Jennings Bryan. And certainly, in the context of the side he represented in the Scopes trial, he deserves that contempt. Scopes, of course, went on to pursue a profitable career as a geologist for American oil companies, mostly in Venezuela, using the knowledge for which Tennessee condemned him to find oil.

The result? Thanks to Scopes, and many other non-Creationist geologists, today's yahoos have enough gas and oil to drive to courthouses all over the country to file their silly little lawsuits.

But let me get back to Bryan. He served as Woodrow Wilson's Secretary of State for a time. After the sinking of the Lusitania, Wilson protested to the German government. Bryan, a pacifist, pointed out that the German government had placed ads in the press saying they were going to blow the thing up because it was carrying weapons to the UK. The UK denied it for many years, but in the 1970's, I believe, it finally came out that it was true. Despite the troglodytic stand he took in the Scopes trial, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Bryan because of the fact that he resigned as Secretary of State rather than be a part of Wilson's policy on this issue.
I've always found his role in the Lusitania affair to be far more objectionable than what occurred in Tenn. His pacifism blinded him to the harsh realities of world events. Recall that the formula he adopted after the sinking of the British liner Fababa (with the death of 1 American) continued to shape his thinking during the discussions of note writing relating to the Lusitania. His insistence in comparing the actions of the British and Germans made no sense. Wilson was far better off with Lansing at State. Bryan's brand of irrational pacifism was accurately described in TR's autobiography when he spoke about the mischievous "peace at any price" men.
"Free trade, one of the greatest blessings which a government can confer on a people, is in almost every country unpopular."

-Thomas Macaulay

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Re: Anti-intellectualism in America

Post by Corlyss_D » Thu May 26, 2005 1:40 am

RebLem wrote:But only in America have anti-intellectuals politically organized to demand, and get, places at the tables where public policy is made.
Clever, but wrong.
Last edited by Corlyss_D on Thu May 26, 2005 1:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Post by Corlyss_D » Thu May 26, 2005 2:08 am

Kevin R wrote:We should all recall Tocqueville's observations about cultural pursuits in a democratic society.
Gee, Kevin, don't make us guess. What did he say?

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/toc_indx.html
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

Ralph
Dittersdorf Specialist & CMG NY Host
Posts: 20996
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:54 am
Location: Paradise on Earth, New York, NY

Post by Ralph » Thu May 26, 2005 7:19 am

Corlyss_D wrote:
Kevin R wrote:We should all recall Tocqueville's observations about cultural pursuits in a democratic society.
Gee, Kevin, don't make us guess. What did he say?

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/toc_indx.html
*****

Corlyss,

He's testing your great Web research skills. :)
Image

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

Kevin R
Posts: 1672
Joined: Wed Nov 17, 2004 1:15 am
Location: MO

Post by Kevin R » Thu May 26, 2005 10:24 am

Corlyss_D wrote:
Kevin R wrote:We should all recall Tocqueville's observations about cultural pursuits in a democratic society.
Gee, Kevin, don't make us guess. What did he say?

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/toc_indx.html
Cor,

To get a good feel for his views requires a great deal of space, so I was reluctant to take the time, but here it goes (I wish it had been the Lawrence translation). Forgive the length.

Volume II

Chapter 1

I THINK that in no country in the civilized world is less attention paid to philosophy than in the United States. The Americans have no philosophical school of their own, and they care but little for all the schools into which Europe is divided, the very names of which are scarcely known to them.

Yet it is easy to perceive that almost all the inhabitants of the United States use their minds in the same manner, and direct them according to the same rules; that is to say, without ever having taken the trouble to define the rules, they have a philosophical method common to the whole people.

To evade the bondage of system and habit, of family maxims, class opinions, and, in some degree, of national prejudices; to accept tradition only as a means of information, and existing facts only as a lesson to be used in doing otherwise and doing better; to seek the reason of things for oneself, and in oneself alone; to tend to results without being bound to means, and to strike through the form to the substance--such are the principal characteristics of what I shall call the philosophical method of the Americans.

But if I go further and seek among these characteristics the principal one, which includes almost all the rest, I discover that in most of the operations of the mind each American appeals only to the individual effort of his own understanding.

America is therefore one of the countries where the precepts of Descartes are least studied and are best applied. Nor is this surprising. The Americans do not read the works of Descartes, because their social condition deters them from speculative studies; but they follow his maxims, because this same social condition naturally disposes their minds to adopt them.

In the midst of the continual movement that agitates a democratic community, the tie that unites one generation to another is relaxed or broken; every man there readily loses all trace of the ideas of his forefathers or takes no care about them.


Chapter 3

Men who live in ages of equality have a great deal of curiosity and little leisure; their life is so practical, so confused, so excited, so active, that but little time remains to them for thought. Such men are prone to general ideas because they are thereby spared the trouble of studying particulars; they contain, if I may so speak a great deal in a little compass, and give, in a little time, a great return. If, then, on a brief and inattentive investigation, they think they discern a common relation between certain objects, inquiry is not pushed any further; and without examining in detail how far these several objects agree or differ, they are hastily arranged under one formula, in order to pass to another subject.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of a democratic period is the taste that all men then have for easy success and present enjoyment. This occurs in the pursuits of the intellect as well as in all others. Most of those who live in a time of equality are full of an ambition equally alert and indolent: they want to obtain great success immediately, but they would prefer to avoid great effort. These conflicting tendencies lead straight to the search for general ideas, by the aid of which they flatter themselves that they can delineate vast objects with little pains and draw the attention of the public without much trouble.

And I do not know that they are wrong in thinking so. For their readers are as much averse to investigating anything to the bottom as they are; and what is generally sought in the productions of mind is easy pleasure and information without labor.

If aristocratic nations do not make sufficient use of general ideas, and frequently treat them with inconsiderate disdain, it is true, on the other hand, that a democratic people is always ready to carry ideas of this kind to excess and to espouse them with injudicious warmth.

Chapter 9

At the head of the enlightened nations of the Old World the inhabitants of the United States more particularly identified one to which they were closely united by a common origin and by kindred habits. Among this people they found distinguished men of science, able artists, writers of eminence; and they were enabled to enjoy the treasures of the intellect without laboring to amass them. In spite of the ocean that intervenes, I cannot consent to separate America from Europe. I consider the people of the United States as that portion of the English people who are commissioned to explore the forests of the New World, while the rest of the nation, enjoying more leisure and less harassed by the drudgery of life, may devote their energies to thought and enlarge in all directions the empire of mind.

The position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one. Their strictly Puritanical origin, their exclusively commercial habits, even the country they inhabit, which seems to divert their minds from the pursuit of science, literature, and the arts, the proximity of Europe, which allows them to neglect these pursuits without relapsing into barbarism, a thousand special causes, of which I have only been able to point out the most important, have singularly concurred to fix the mind of the American upon purely practical objects. His passions, his wants, his education, and everything about him seem to unite in drawing the native of the United States earthward; his religion alone bids him turn, from time to time, a transient and distracted glance to heaven. Let us cease, then, to view all democratic nations under the example of the American people, and attempt to survey them at length with their own features....

As soon as the multitude begins to take an interest in the labors of the mind, it finds out that to excel in some of them is a powerful means of acquiring fame, power, or wealth. The restless ambition that equality begets instantly takes this direction, as it does all others. The number of those who cultivate science, letters, and the arts, becomes immense. The intellectual world starts into prodigious activity; everyone endeavors to open for himself a path there and to draw the eyes of the public after him. Something analogous occurs to what happens in society in the United States politically considered. What is done is often imperfect, but the attempts are innumerable; and although the results of individual effort are commonly very small, the total amount is always very large.

It is therefore not true to assert that men living in democratic times are naturally indifferent to science, literature, and the arts; only it must be acknowledged that they cultivate them after their own fashion and bring to the task their own peculiar qualifications and deficiencies.

Chapter 10

Nothing is more necessary to the culture of the higher sciences or of the more elevated departments of science than meditation; and nothing is less suited to meditation than the structure of democratic society. We do not find there, as among an aristocratic people, one class that keeps quiet because it is well off; and another that does not venture to stir because it despairs of improving its condition. Everyone is in motion, some in quest of power, others of gain. In the midst of this universal tumult, this incessant conflict of jarring interests, this continual striving of men after fortune, where is that calm to be found which is necessary for the deeper combinations of the intellect? How can the mind dwell upon any single point when everything whirls around it, and man himself is swept and beaten onwards by the heady current that rolls all things in its course?.....

Men who live in democratic communities not only seldom indulge in meditation, but they naturally entertain very little esteem for it. A democratic state of society and democratic institutions keep the greater part of men in constant activity; and the habits of mind that are suited to an active life are not always suited to a contemplative one. The man of action is frequently obliged to content himself with the best he can get because he would never accomplish his purpose if he chose to carry every detail to perfection. He has occasion perpetually to rely on ideas that he has not had leisure to search to the bottom; for he is much more frequently aided by the seasonableness of an idea than by its strict accuracy; and in the long run he risks less in making use of some false principles than in spending his time in establishing all his principles on the basis of truth. The world is not led by long or learned demonstrations; a rapid glance at particular incidents, the daily study of the fleeting passions of the multitude, the accidents of the moment, and the art of turning them to account decide all its affairs.

In the ages in which active life is the condition of almost everyone, men are generally led to attach an excessive value to the rapid bursts and superficial conceptions of the intellect, and on the other hand to undervalue unduly its slower and deeper labors. This opinion of the public influences the judgment of the men who cultivate the sciences; they are persuaded that they may succeed in those pursuits without meditation, or are deterred from such pursuits as demand it.....

The greater part of the men who constitute these nations are extremely eager in the pursuit of actual and physical gratification. As they are always dissatisfied with the position that they occupy and are always free to leave it, they think of nothing but the means of changing their fortune or increasing it. To minds thus predisposed, every new method that leads by a shorter road to wealth, every machine that spares labor, every instrument that diminishes the cost of production, every discovery that facilitates pleasures or augments them, seems to be the grandest effort of the human intellect. It is chiefly from these motives that a democratic people addicts itself to scientific pursuits, that it understands and respects them. In aristocratic ages science is more particularly called upon to furnish gratification to the mind; in democracies, to the body.

Chapter 13

In democracies it is by no means the case that all who cultivate literature have received a literary education; and most of those who have some tinge of belles-lettres are engaged either in politics or in a profession that only allows them to taste occasionally and by stealth the pleasures of mind. These pleasures, therefore, do not constitute the principal charm of their lives, but they are considered as a transient and necessary recreation amid the serious labors of life. Such men can never acquire a sufficiently intimate knowledge of the art of literature to appreciate its more delicate beauties, and the minor shades of expression must escape them. As the time they can devote to letters is very short, they seek to make the best use of the whole of it. They prefer books which may be easily procured, quickly read, and which require no learned researches to be understood. They ask for beauties self-proffered and easily enjoyed; above all, they must have what is unexpected and new. Accustomed to the struggle, the crosses, and the monotony of practical life, they require strong and rapid emotions, startling passages, truths or errors brilliant enough to rouse them up and to plunge them at once, as if by violence, into the midst of the subject.

Why should I say more, or who does not understand what is about to follow before I have expressed it? Taken as a whole, literature in democratic ages can never present, as it does in the periods of aristocracy, an aspect of order, regularity, science, and art; its form, on the contrary, will ordinarily be slighted, sometimes despised. Style will frequently be fantastic, incorrect, over- burdened, and loose, almost always vehement and bold. Authors will aim at rapidity of execution more than at perfection of detail. Small productions will be more common than bulky books; there will be more wit than erudition, more imagination than profundity; and literary performances will bear marks of an untutored and rude vigor of thought, frequently of great variety and singular fecundity. The object of authors will be to astonish rather than to please, and to stir the passions more than to charm the taste.

Chapter 14

DEMOCRACY not only infuses a taste for letters among the trading classes, but introduces a trading spirit into literature.

In aristocracies readers are fastidious and few in number; in democracies they are far more numerous and far less difficult to please. The consequence is that among aristocratic nations no one can hope to succeed without great exertion, and this exertion may earn great fame, but can never procure much money; while among democratic nations a writer may flatter himself that he will obtain at a cheap rate a moderate reputation and a large fortune. For this purpose he need not be admired; it is enough that he is liked.

The ever increasing crowd of readers and their continual craving for something new ensure the sale of books that nobody much esteems.
In democratic times the public frequently treat authors as kings do their courtiers; they enrich and despise them. What more is needed by the venal souls who are born in courts or are worthy to live there?

Democratic literature is always infested with a tribe of writers who look upon letters as a mere trade; and for some few great authors who adorn it, you may reckon thousands of idea-mongers.

Chapter 17

But in democracies the love of physical gratification, the notion of bettering one's condition, the excitement of competition, the charm of anticipated success, are so many spurs to urge men onward in the active professions they have embraced, without allowing them to deviate for an instant from the track. The main stress of the faculties is to this point. The imagination is not extinct, but its chief function is to devise what may be useful and to represent what is real. The principle of equality not only diverts men from the description of ideal beauty; it also diminishes the number of objects to be described....

Aristocracy naturally leads the human mind to the contemplation of the past and fixes it there. Democracy, on the contrary, gives men a sort of instinctive distaste for what is ancient. In this respect aristocracy is far more favorable to poetry; for things commonly grow larger and more obscure as they are more remote, and for this twofold reason they are better suited to the delineation of the ideal.

Chapter 19

Democratic communities hold erudition very cheap and care but little for what occurred at Rome and Athens; they want to hear something that concerns themselves, and the delineation of the present age is what they demand.
"Free trade, one of the greatest blessings which a government can confer on a people, is in almost every country unpopular."

-Thomas Macaulay

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Post by Corlyss_D » Thu May 26, 2005 2:01 pm

Thank you, Kevin. Didn't mean to make you work so hard. :twisted:
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

DavidRoss
Posts: 3384
Joined: Mon May 30, 2005 7:05 am
Location: Northern California

Post by DavidRoss » Mon May 30, 2005 10:52 am

An intellectual is:

(a) Someone who apprehends the world primarily through the intellect--the conscious "rational" mind.

(b) A member of the intelligentsia--an elite determined largely by education and social class.

Few who decry "anti-intellectualism" fail to fit both definitions above. Though perhaps acquainted with the principle of GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out), they seem not to have critically examined their own most fundamental epistemological assumptions. If not wholly ignorant of Lao Tzu's critique of intellectuals, they seem at least not to have applied it reflexively.

"Anti-Intellectualism" in America takes two forms, and indeed seems to have been with us since birth. (It may be one of the building blocks of our national character, for both good and ill.) First, there is widespread skepticism regarding type (a) intellectuals among those whose own primary experience of the world is emotional, kinetic, or intuitive--manifestations of which range from sympathy for the handicapped, to hostility toward the blindly arrogant. Second, there is great distrust of elites, especially the "pointy-headed liberal" type (b) intellectuals whose policies determined our national agenda during most of the last century. Hostility toward this class increases proportionally to its arrogant belief in its own superiority, its ill-disguised disdain for traditional values, and its refusal to take responsibility for or even acknowledge the tragic failure of many of its policies.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

re. Corlyss-D's tagline quoting Charles Krauthammer: A near miss. Might it be more accurate to say that conservatives think liberals are stupid, whereas liberals think conservatives are evil and stupid?

David
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." ~Albert Einstein
"Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end, there it is." ~Winston Churchill

Image

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Post by Corlyss_D » Mon May 30, 2005 11:16 am

Hey, Dave, is that your own erudite explanation of anti-intellectualism or is that sourced? If the latter, what is your source?

Re: the Krauthammer quote, yes, Dave, but we're in charge now!!!! :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :twisted: 8)
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

DavidRoss
Posts: 3384
Joined: Mon May 30, 2005 7:05 am
Location: Northern California

Post by DavidRoss » Mon May 30, 2005 11:32 am

Hi, Corlyss. No source--just my response to the foregoing posts. As a former intellectual (trained at some highly-esteemed temples of empiricism), I'm always chagrined by intellectual hubris.

This seems like a fine site. I recognize some of your members from GMG, through which site I found yours. Hope to learn a lot here and I promise not to be an arrogrant schmuck!
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." ~Albert Einstein
"Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end, there it is." ~Winston Churchill

Image

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Post by Corlyss_D » Mon May 30, 2005 2:03 pm

DavidRoss wrote:Hi, Corlyss. No source--just my response to the foregoing posts. As a former intellectual (trained at some highly-esteemed temples of empiricism), I'm always chagrined by intellectual hubris.
Well, congrats on the definition. Nicely done.

Former intellectual? You recovering, retired, or ?

I'm a pseudointellectual myself - too lazy to become the real thing.
This seems like a fine site. I recognize some of your members from GMG, through which site I found yours.
Thank you! After a year resisting blandishments to behave like adults in charge, Lance and I finally decided to become moderators. We've tried to improve the tone of the place, a little paint here, a little whitewash there, some new furniture, a little refinishing. And some executions. We hope you enjoy your stay here.
I promise not to be an arrogrant schmuck!
Well, why should you stand out . . . ? :lol: Anyway, dodn't be a stranger.
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

herman
Posts: 719
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:00 am
Location: Dutch Sierra

Post by herman » Mon May 30, 2005 2:22 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:After a year resisting blandishments to behave like adults in charge, Lance and I finally decided to become moderators. We've tried to improve the tone of the place, a little paint here, a little whitewash there, some new furniture, a little refinishing. And some executions. We hope you enjoy your stay here.
Indeed. BTW I would have done the whitewashing after the executions.

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Post by Corlyss_D » Mon May 30, 2005 2:50 pm

herman wrote:Indeed. BTW I would have done the whitewashing after the executions.
We did. I watch all those forenics shows. I used clorox. Still the very devil to get out. Disposition is such a pain. Know anyone who could use some meat hooks and piano wire? Oh, wait. Never mind. We might need them later.
Last edited by Corlyss_D on Mon May 30, 2005 3:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

mahlerfan
Posts: 137
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2003 12:49 pm
Location: psu

Post by mahlerfan » Mon May 30, 2005 3:05 pm

I've seen some comments on movies that I think are just silly. Is European cinema better than US cinema? No. Why? You fail to consider that all the trash that's made is not imported over so we don't see that. People don't bother producing and distributing dvds of crap from Europe for US consumers... ditto for other countries like Australia as well. So we only see the best and think that wow they do it alot better than we do! But if you look harder you'll find that trash, I've seen some of it, it's just as bad if not worse than movies out of Hollywood.

The same confusion is also shown in the hazy memory of past. People think that movies were better back in the good old days just because the scrap is usually not shown, but there was just as much rubbish back then as there is now. Don't believe me? AMC used to show the rubbish along with the good stuff before it became tv for people instead of American Movie Classics.

Now I have found many extraordinary movies in many countries. We can appreciate them without turning it into some retarded pissing contest. :roll:

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Post by Corlyss_D » Mon May 30, 2005 3:09 pm

Yes, let's not have any of those. Retarded pissing contests can be very messy to clean up.
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

RebLem
Posts: 9117
Joined: Tue May 17, 2005 1:06 pm
Location: Albuquerque, NM, USA 87112, 2 blocks west of the Breaking Bad carwash.
Contact:

Richard Hofstadter

Post by RebLem » Thu Jun 02, 2005 2:53 am

I don't know why I didn't mention Hofstadter. The book in question was written as his response to the anti-intellectualism of the McCarthy movement. He was a brilliant historian. I loved his book The American Political Tradition, which provides biographical essays on a select number of American political figures, which offers some unusual and thoughtful conclusions. I found his essay on John C Calhoun especially insightful and innovative.
Don't drink and drive. You might spill it.--J. Eugene Baker, aka my late father
"We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term."--Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S. Carolina.
"Racism is America's Original Sin."--Francis Cardinal George, former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago.

Locked

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 22 guests