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This blog is primarily for me to blog my responses to books that I'm reading. Sometimes I blog about other stuff too, though.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

Well, here I am, blogging late at night/early in the morning after a shocking election.  I have no interest in dissecting partisan politics here, only intellectual politics.

In the 1990's, an interregnum between the Cold War and War on Terror, academics drew knives on each other for the "Science Wars."  We got to hear from a certain type of humanities student that science is just, like, a Western hegemonic patriarchal cultural construct.  That all ended when Bush The Lesser took office, and all academics agreed that global warming is objective scientific fact.

In recent years we have been going at each other in higher ed over a somewhat different set of issues, but I suspect that we'll come together again.  Most academics will be on the same page about Trump, and there will be a degree of internal unity that we haven't previously enjoyed.  Even many academics of rather conservative views on certain issues (e.g. me) feel that Trump is illiberal, uninformed, and reckless.

What are the things that we will declare a truce on?  Well, we have been talking a lot about unconscious bias and invisible advantages, the subtle things.  But we are now confronted with a large number of people supporting a man who spouted undisguised, clearly visible, not-at-all subtle bias.  The problem we face is not good people who are slightly biased in spite of good intentions, but something much more blatant.

That's the part where I ask for people to give less emphasis to something that I disagree with.  Here's where I give less emphasis to something:

I've been going after the anti-intellectualism of progressive education.  I'm still opposed to it, and I will still pursue the path that I believe is most intellectually appropriate.  But anti-intellectualism manifests in many ways and in many aspects of American life.  Progressive educators cannot be my only targets.

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