Anti-Intellectualism

Bloggified by Jake on Wednesday, April 23, 2008

This may be the least impactful books ever written. Unfortunately, as Susan Jacoby herself points out in the clip below from last night's "Colbert Report," half Americans will read zero books this year. And if any of those 130 million or so decide to pick one up, what are the odds they'll read a book telling them why they and their friends and family are stupid and choose to be stupid?

Furthermore, the people most likely to read the book don't have much reason to do so. I really don't need Susan Jacoby to tell me people actively reject intellectual enlightenment. I lived in the South for two years. On top of that, I lived in Bay County, Florida, home to more churches per capita than anywhere else in the United States.

Throughout my public school career, I consistently saw funding for the gifted programs cut so it could be poured down the drain of remedial classes.

In high school, I was on a Speech and Debate team that won its tenth consecutive state championship and was riding a seven year undefeated streak. I contributed to that title and streak by winning State and advancing to Nationals. I joined Model United Nations in my junior year and was named Outstanding Delegate as a representative of Djibouti. That strong showing earned me the Model UN presidency at my school and the chance to represent the United Kingdom on the Security Council the following year, where I was again named the top delegate.

Given those credentials, who do you think got more pussy? Me or the weak-armed quarterback of our 2-9 football team? Which of those three teams do you think got the most funding from the school?

As we near the end of baseball's opening month, already the anti-intellectual forces are hard at work to downplay the value of SABR-metrics. I won't go into all of baseball's old guard's attempts to paint those who critically analyze statistics to better understand the sport as nerds who can't know anything about baseball without having put on spikes and played in the Major League. Fire Joe Morgan and Moneyball do a much more thorough job than I can in one paragraph.

Last week, I finished all the revisions for my novel (which is currently being considered by six publishers). The majority of the changes were changing big words like "cacophony" to "loud noise" and removing adverbs that made sentences too long and complicated.

My girlfriend is a teacher at a school that No Child Left Behind has reduced to a idiot factory bent on meeting minimal standards. No Child Left Behind, by its very name, is serves to do exactly the opposite of what it should. The idea is that by making everyone learn the same stuff, everyone can be as smart as everyone else. Unfortunately, that's true, but the standard bearer for everyone's level of learning isn't the smartest kid in the class, but the dumbest. If no one is to be left behind, everyone must move at the rate of the slowest person.

This morning, my might-as-well-be-father-in-law made pancakes for the kids. Instead of reading the instructions on the side of the Aunt Jemima box, he just dumped some water into the mix (instead of eggs, milk, and oil). When Theresa pointed out his mistake, his answer was "It looks like it worked." Staring directly at the instructions, he concluded that the chemical make up of water must be equivalent to the chemical make up of eggs, milk, and oil!

My point is that I could probably write this book. Anyone with an IQ over 130 probably has enough anecdotes to fill 200 or more pages. I'm intrigued to read The Age of American Unreason, but already figure I know 30% of what's in it and will only be horribly, horribly depressed by the other 70%.

1 sarcastic replies:

Coma Victim said...

You is makes lots sense man. Shiiiit bro.

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