JS-Kit/Echo comments for article at http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/2010/01/right-wing-anti-intellectualism.html (14 comments)

  Tentative mapping of comments to original article, corrections solicited.

jsid-1262726973-610  Guest (anonymous) at Tue, 05 Jan 2010 21:29:33 +0000

"...it's that we hate that so many are so often wrong yet never seem to be penalized for the results of their failures. Instead, they are rewarded."

THAT is the truth!  Rewarded for failure and creating more failure all around them.  That is maddening!

jsid-1262728338-583  geekwitha45 at Tue, 05 Jan 2010 21:52:18 +0000

In a similiar vein:

I once questioned my own lack of a Ph.d out loud, in the presence of a friend and colleague. Not having advanced degrees seemed out of sync, given my intelligence and ability to make stuff (like degrees) happen.

He explained why he aborted his own Ph.d program:

(approx quote from rough memory)

"I woke up one day with the insight that for the remainder of my career, I would achieve nothing of any substantial value. I would be judged entirely on the basis of my ability to comprehend and manipulate a set of symbols and abstractions whose meanings were derived entirely from each other, and none of which had any external reference point whatsoever.  My fortunes and reputation would be based on subjective assessments on how beautiful my meaningless mental gymnastics were. I thought about it a while, and I couldn't stand the idea. I wanted to do real things. So I quit."

jsid-1262738506-785  DirtCrashr at Wed, 06 Jan 2010 00:41:46 +0000

No consequences to their actions - that's a First Principle for Elitists. 
My buddy who has a PhD in Engineering taught at the University for a while before he started his own business making stuff work better.  He sees this crap all the time, but he also talks with a level of acquired PhDidness that sometimes you just have to tell him to STFU.  He's usually grateful for the reminder.

jsid-1262741663-44  IdahoHunter at Wed, 06 Jan 2010 01:34:23 +0000

So, when do we stop Intelectualizing and start Peanalizing?

jsid-1262753388-310  Britt at Wed, 06 Jan 2010 04:49:48 +0000

Yeah, smart people make lousy Presidents.
Hoover? Brilliant engineer, a genuine prodigy. Spoke Chinese fluently, fed Europe after WWI, a genuinely great man. Terrible, terrible, terrible President, because he thought an economy could be engineered like a bridge or a damn.

Jimmy Carter, nuclear engineer. As in "I kept the boat from glowing green or blowing up" Yet he could well be the worst President of all time.

Nixon was smart as hell. Jefferson was too, and I'm not one who thinks he was a great President, though your mileage may vary there. Woodrow Wilson, oh man...I can't even begin to go on about how awful he was.

I argue that competence is distinct from intelligence, and that competence cannot be tought in a classroom, but only gained through experience in the real world, of which intellectuals by their very nature are divorced from.You become competent not by mistakes, but by feeling the pain of those mistakes. The higher the costs are, the more you will work to correct them and strive to avoid future mistakes.

I basically think that when you're looking for political leadership, the best place to look is with someone who has incredibly high responsibilities and handles them well. Succesful businessmen who do not owe their positions to bailouts or TARP or whatever the Party of the little guy is calling the corporate welfare this week are a good place to start. Succesful combat commanders are another.Which is why I'm such a fan of the four great Republican Presidents of this century: Harding, Coolidge, Eisenhower, and Reagan. Men of the real world who came in from the cold to work in government. The academy at this point as a private subway system into Washington, just so they don't have any illusions shattered by movment among the proles.

No more lawyers please. Where exactly did we get this idea that lawyers were uniquely qualififed to run everything? Every government department is full of lawyers. FBI agents are lawyers, not cops. The DoD is full of lawyers, Treasury is full of lawyers not accountants. CIA is full of lawyers and not spies. I swear one thing I might add to my wish list is a cap on the number of JDs allowed in government.

Of course, that's just more Neanderthal right wing anti-intellectualism.

jsid-1262786910-115  Guest (anonymous) at Wed, 06 Jan 2010 14:08:30 +0000 in reply to jsid-1262753388-310

Carter was horrible, but there is a reason everyone agrees that James Buchanan was the worst president ever.

I agree with your lawyers sentiment, but it's not all true.  The FBI hires a lot of hard science folks and ex-cops to be agents.  The DoD has lawyers, but actually very few of them especially compared to the British MoD.  Not sure about Treasury.  You're are completely correct about the CIA.  Lawyers and ivy league humanities/social science types doing jobs that should be performed by people with degrees from in the hard sciences and mathematics lesser instituions.  But that isn't any different from Wall Street.

jsid-1262755433-561  Stormy Dragon at Wed, 06 Jan 2010 05:23:53 +0000

Let's be honest with ourselves.  While there any many right wing intellectuals, there are also a whole lot of people on the right who are anit-intellectual.  A movement who has seen it's intellectual spokesmen devolve from people like Edmund Burke to people like Sean Hannity is not one that highly prizes tought.

jsid-1262759662-357  Britt at Wed, 06 Jan 2010 06:34:22 +0000 in reply to jsid-1262755433-561

You're kind of missing the whole thing.

When people say the right wing is anti-intellectual what they really mean is that the right wing does not think that intellectuals are omniscient godlike beings who should be handed large amounts of federal money and power. Which, honestly, is what a large portion of the left does believe. If being opposed to an oligarchy of Oxford dons makes me an anti-intellectual, then that's what I am.We've come to a point where a postgrad degree in anything at all (but especially a law degree) is taken as a kind of totem of wisdom and skill.

Erudition and a grasp of the arcane facets of a minor discipline is intellectualism at its core. There is nothing wrong with this. Someone has to know how, for example, the spread of the Asiatic tribes into Europe in the early parts of the Common Era affected language development. That does not mean that this expert is someone we should listen to on healthcare, for example. Expertise does not transfer over. Engineers cannot try their hands at heart surgery, and linguists (Chomsky, I'm looking at you) should not be taken seriously when they talk about politics. Your degree counts for your field, not for all fields.

jsid-1262757337-967  khbaker at Wed, 06 Jan 2010 05:55:37 +0000

We're "anti-intellectual" by Thomas Sowell's definition of "intellectual" - people whose end products are ideas.  People who are not judged on the performance of their ideas, but on how wonderful their ideas seem to be.  We've seen so many failed ideas that result in no consequences for the people who propose and promote them, certainly there's a backlash against that, and you're seeing it now.  Conservatives (and a lot of the rest of us) appreciate what works.

Remember one recurrent theme here:  Cognitive dissonance - the idea didn't work, but it cannot be wrong!  The failure must be due to improper implementation or external sabotage!  Do it again, only HARDER!

jsid-1262783801-811  Rich at Wed, 06 Jan 2010 13:16:41 +0000 in reply to jsid-1262757337-967

I have a PhD in Information Systems, which I went for after 28 years in the industry doing it.  I had a course with a very brilliant man in which he espoused all this stuff none of which would would or could be done.  Pure Blue Sky stuff.  And I called him on it, which he did not mind but he kept insisting that he was setting the goal.  To which I replied I do not want to wait 20 years for your goal I will build a system now that accomplished about half and it will actually help people.  He could not grasp that concept it had to be all or none.

jsid-1262827210-240  DirtCrashr at Thu, 07 Jan 2010 01:20:10 +0000

I'm not opposed to an oligarchy of Oxford dons, I'm opposed to an oligarchy of Stanford/Palo Alto dons, I've met those assholes, and they SHOULD be opposed.

jsid-1262828029-643  Britt at Thu, 07 Jan 2010 01:33:49 +0000 in reply to jsid-1262827210-240

I went with Oxford solely for the alliteration. I'm a huge admirer of alliterative utterances.

jsid-1262828587-227  mariner at Thu, 07 Jan 2010 01:43:07 +0000

I'm with Britt. I'm not "anti-intellectual"; I'm tired of being accused of such because I don't bow at the altar of communism or AGW or whatever is the latest leftist fad.

A little Hannity goes a long way. He's not an intellectual (and AFAIK doesn't pretend to be), he just speaks to the aspirations and frustrations of ordinary Americans. I don't see this as a bad thing.

jsid-1262834548-55  Firehand at Thu, 07 Jan 2010 03:22:28 +0000

I once told someone that "People like me aren't 'anti-intellectual' the way you mean it.  YOU mean 'anti-education' and that we're not; we're "Anti-overeducated dumbasses who think the sun shines from their butt and they're entitled to rule us'.

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