December 11, 2009

Intellectualism and Reality

Buoa sera. Not too long ago, I was involved in a discussion in an online forum regarding things that we find irritating. One fellow is upset about anti-intellectualism, and wondered why it exists in the first place.

I felt that I was bright enough to attempt to offer a bit of an answer (it was a public forum, after all). After I gave that answer, I kept thinking about the subject and have more ideas to offer. Why are people anti-intellectual (or dislike those who call themselves intellectuals)?

  • Smug. The "intellectual class" is so much more clever than those of us who actually have to work for a living, and they let us mere mortals know it. Here is a smug, arrogant article that is just reeking of attitude and helps prove my point.
  • Impractical. They gather together to discuss "ideas" and "knowledge", but appear to be unable to take care of even their own needs. Hey, Mr. Brain! Can you change a tire, or only discuss the physics involved? Torque this, Pal!
  • Disassociated. Intellectuals are usually supportive of leftist causes, including socialism and communism (for instance, see William Ayers, terrorist and professor). Ironically, when The Revolution comes, academics and intellectuals are among the first to be executed. Hell's bells, Lenin believed that the "working classes" were unable to understand socialism!
  • Religious. Love of thought, learning and intellectual process become a religion in and of themselves. Further, there is some kind of an unwritten law that intellectuals are atheists. Of course, that is nonsense. Some of the most intelligent people, past and present, in all walks of life, are "believers". Because God doesn't respond to your criteria, he doesn't exist? I reject you, because you cannot understand that God, by his very nature, is not understandable by your proud clique.
  • Persecution. Yes, they feel sorry for themselves. Not only do they misunderstand (I suspect it is deliberately) regular people, but they have such a high value on themselves that they are offended when we do not bow down and worship their wisdom. After all, we're clinging to our errors, and they want to save us from ourselves. Arrogant cazzos.
  • Loftiness. The affectation of an impractical vocabulary insulates intellectual types from regular people; "Let me show you how bright I am by using big words". I prefer they cowboy approach: "You don't need decorated words to make your meanin' clear. Say it plain and save some breath for breathin'." Me, I'd rather be understood by as many people as possible rather than impress a few.
Folks in the "intellectual class", in the traditional sense, seem to talk about things that the rest of us supposedly cannot understand, and congratulate themselves on being so frightfully clever. Frankly, most of us have no interest in debating the merits of the great philosophers, or "pure" mathematics. We have work to do. But I'll wager that if we were exposed to such discussions and concepts in the first place, and wished to expend our intellectual energies and time on them, we could understand those things. We choose not to, and leave those concepts to those who hold us in contempt.

The truth is, they just don't "get it". People have their beliefs, many of them logical and useful. We don't need to have self-congratulating brain worshipers swoop down and save us from ourselves because we're not thinking their way. Sorry, Mr. Brain, I don't have to think your way, or have you tell me what thoughts I can think, or what beliefs that I can have.

To add more fuel to the "attitude" fire, they believe that they are to be the conscience of the age, and to speak out. That sets them up into a godlike role, because they are oh so right, they are clever, they must be obeyed.

Please pay attention Mr. Brain, this is important. And it is also painfully obvious.

In my travels and adventures, I have helped people with their computers. Several make me their "go-to" guy. They say, "Gosh, Cowboy Bob, you're so clever. How do you know all this stuff?" Well, I'm not being clever! I happen to know something that they do not know. Big freakin' deal. Yeah, I'm so clever with computers, but my associate Hal the Hacker makes me look like a trained monkey on computer stuff.

Knowledge is relative. Still with me, Cyril Cerebellum? I know stuff that I don't dare tell you, things that you'll never know. Fact of life. And I know a dame that works with the mentally retarded (or, to use modern, politically correct lingo, "developmentally disabled") people. I'd be standing there looking just as retarded as her clients while she does her job. And a babe I knew that owned horses...fuggedaboudit, I'm a cowboy at heart, not with my hands. She said I was a smart guy, but I'm as smart as a box of rocks when it comes to what she has to do with her horses. For that matter, I know some auto mechanics that I would put their brain power against yours. No, they don't know "that stuff" you know about. But boy, can they diagnose and fix a problem in my car!

Let me tell you something, Mikey Mind. I am not anti-intellectual. I am anti-attitude. People are not asking to be "dumb", or to be stupid. They just don't think like you, and don't want you interfering by shoving your intellectual "religion" down their throats. Just because they don't know things that you have decided are important, and meet the intelligentsia criteria, does not mean they — or I — do not measure up in the brightness department. Capice?


Anonymous said...

You might like 'The Intellectuals' by historian Paul Johnson. A good read. Your post has summed up my feelings on the topic pretty well, and I'm glad there are folks like you who can articulate such thoughts, as I get really muddled when trying to do so :)

gypsytda said...

First... I LOVED this item... well written, well stated.
I need to mention… Lauren’s comment, you added the perfect statement there... "Articulate"... that is the bottom line to the problem with those “blow-hard smug-heads”... they actually do not have the capacity to articulate a logical thought, and certainly not with an ounce of simplicity. They may act like it is beneath them, but it is actually that they cannot convey their thoughts on a normal level.
Perhaps they have no other way to "show off" a degree, or degrees, they have obtained (that have no actual use). I “guess” it would be “tacky” to have a copy of their degree(s) on a t-shirt?
I can say this, why? Because I KNOW these people, I am related to them. I have several MENSA members in my family. Humor is dry. Conversation is droll. Yet, above all are the smug-pseudo-intellectual-liberals in my family.
I am convinced the smug-pseudo-intellectual-liberals all have the same book they use to “explain” their theories, ideology, “logic”… blah, blah... Because I see the same babble from several of my cousins, another uncle... then I can go to any news website and see the same bull being tossed by other smug-pseudo-intellectual-liberals. It is really pathetic.
I do see the way smug-pseudo-intellectuals find the need to throw up the dictionary as they talk, as how they are compensating for their short-comings. While they may have degrees, they may know “big words” (I know big words too, but really do not have the need to throw them up at every given moment), they may have (way too much) knowledge of utterly useless information (OK they may kick butt on what some trivia game show)... They simply cannot comprehend anything basic, they cannot convey thoughts with any simplicity, if it is not dictated to them by other smug-pseudo-intellectuals they simply cannot grasp it.
Expanding this to other professions... doctors, mechanics, computer experts... anyone who finds the need to “prove” that they “know” more than others, they will over-compensate by talking down to others.
The point the smug-pseudo-intellectuals miss is that everyone has a strength, talent, and gift. Some people work really well with people, some don’t. Some people have a talent with cars; others need that talented person’s help with their vehicle. Some people have artistic talent; others appreciate and enjoy that talent. Some people have amazing physical abilities, endurance, etc... Many others watch them on TV or in stadiums. Some people choose to dedicate their lives to working in medicine; others rely on their skills to help them, cure them, and so on. Some people have the courage to put their lives on the line to protect freedom and their country, others benefit from that risk and dedication. To look down on someone else because they do not have the same comprehension on the same issues, subject... but look again they surely can teach you something! This is a serious shortcoming of smug-pseudo-intellectuals!
I have taught people on computers, who thought they could never understand or learn anything about how to use a computer. They came across so many people who spoke “above” them; those people were just hiding their short-comings or limitations. I am fully aware I do not know everything, and I can always gain from others, and if I have something to offer or share with others I am happy to do that, but never based on thinking I know more than they do!
Knowing how to teach others and speak so they can understand and learn has far better results than trying to spew out how much more you “know” then others. I relate that to someone trying to teach calculus to kindergartners, in a foreign language, and having that smug looks as the kids cannot understand.
The skill and compassion of those who work with people who have learning disabilities, is by far more impressive than any smug-pseudo-intellectual.
Thank you for letting me rant! You found one of my favorite issues!

Stormbringer said...

Well, I do try to provide a public service.

Does anyone remember Benny Hill? There was a sketch where a rough character was being "presented" to polite society in some way. Someone said, "He doesn't seem very, well, couth". The guy grabbed the front of the speaker's shirt, pulled him forward and said, "I'm bleedin' COUTH!"

So I want to use that to say, "Just because I don't act like a freakin' intellectual don't mean I ain't smart!" After all, intelligence is relative. These people who want to express "pure" logic through mathematics seem to be wasting their time as far as I'm concerned. Mathematics, "relativism" and so forth in philosophy is relatively new. If I want to learn about the philosophies of the ancient Greeks, I want to learn the actual philosophies, not the math. After all, the ancient Greeks didn't bother with the math, either.

Thanks for the comments, Lauren and Gypsy. I'm a bit embarrassed by the praise, but I should be happy about it, being a freakin' genius and all.

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