The Rise of Anti-Intellectualism

“Different forms of anti-intellectualism have different purposes and different roots, and there is a danger in mistaking genuinely democratic impulses for wholesale assaults on the life of the mind.” (Source)

I’ve had a lot of difficulty expressing why I feel particularly lonely and isolated (intellectually) in the modern day. My best attempts at describing this deep loneliness have come short to the depths of an ever-growing feeling. I’ve summed it up as the following: Our current modality of spreading ideas is based on an algorithm – it lacks depth, it lacks detail, it lacks complexity, and it lacks an exploration of nuance, which are all critical for true intellectual discourse. The majority of individuals that we call “thought leaders” in the modern day, are figure heads trying to present surface level solutions for issues rather than targeting deep root causes. The video I’ve linked below is a great (and quick attempt) at explaining the “why” these “thought leaders” exist. If you’re interested in digging a bit deeper in this topic, there’s also a book by Anand Giridharadas (Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World) that goes further into the process of how we got here.

To end this, I’ll share one more quote:

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…

The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance”

― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

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