by John Hawkins | January 7, 2010 9:31 am
Intellectualism has become the readiness, willingness and ability to call dangerous things safe, and safe things dangerous. — Morgan Freeberg
The New York Times’ pretend conservative, David Brooks, got some attention for his latest column sneering at the Tea Parties, but I found his misguided view of the “educated class” to be more interesting:
The public is not only shifting from left to right. Every single idea associated with the educated class has grown more unpopular over the past year.
The educated class believes in global warming, so public skepticism about global warming is on the rise. The educated class supports abortion rights, so public opinion is shifting against them. The educated class supports gun control, so opposition to gun control is mounting.
The story is the same in foreign affairs. The educated class is internationalist, so isolationist sentiment is now at an all-time high, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The educated class believes in multilateral action, so the number of Americans who believe we should “go our own way” has risen sharply.
David Brooks is getting something backwards here. You see, it is not the general public that looks at the views of the “educated class” AKA “intellectuals” and turns away. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
That’s because intellectuals gain notoriety either by saying something that no one else is saying and making a case for it or by making a particularly clever argument that disagrees with the generally held wisdom. An “intellectual” who agrees with common sense positions and traditional ways of doing things generally isn’t considered an “intellectual” at all. Why is that? Well, how can you be smarter than everyone else if you have the same opinions held by the common man?
If you wonder why college professors and other intellectuals who dedicate a lifetime to research and study can often have less common sense than the average teenager, that’s the reason for it. They spend their lives in an environment where coming up with clever and novel theories is rewarded, even if they don’t work, while taking a common sense approach is considered dull and uninteresting at best — and at worst, it’s considered to be a flaw.
The average informed person, who doesn’t live in that world, can see that manmade global warming is a : joke and that “multilateral action” often doesn’t work out so well in practice. Many members of the “educated class” hesitate to admit something so obvious exactly because it is so obvious. How can they be these extraordinary minds if they come to the same conclusion as Joe Sixpack — except a few years later? That has a lot to do with why the decision-making process of the “educated class” in this country often goes so tragically awry.
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