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Thread: Anti-intellectualism inhibits learning

  1. #1 Anti-intellectualism inhibits learning 
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    Anti-intellectualism inhibits learning

    A large percentage (studies suggest over 90%) of the meaning we derive from communication, we derive from the non-verbal cues that the other person gives.

    How does one communicate with an unseen audience that can be anybody in the world? In face-to-face communication there is so much information about the audience at hand that does not exist on the Internet.

    Does one use language for the 12 year old, or the 18 year old, or the 25 year old, the educated, the non-educated? How to speak coherently to the 12 year old while not infuriating the 18 year old and how to mold an essay for the 30 year old without losing the 18 year old.

    People who write books have editors to act as a third party who understands the material and understands the anticipated audience.

    How do I, who have been studying the matter at hand for months and even years, know what words to provide a parenthetical definition that some may need but others may consider to be condescending?

    Anti-intellectualism (opposing or hostile to intellectuals or to an intellectual view or approach) is so prevailing in the United States that almost every reader has a strong anti-intellectual bias that they are completely unconscious of. This anti-intellectual bias constantly inhibits their effort to read anything that smacks of being ‘intellectual’.

    People might pay me money to lecture them on the proper way to swing a golf club but to lecture anyone on matters intellectual is pompous (excessively elevated or ornate—having or exhibiting self-importance).


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  3. #2  
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    I think anti intellectualism has less to do with peoples perceptions of intellectual material or people than it has to do with...

    1) anger at being unable to grasp what seems natural in others.
    2) lack of appreciation for the fact that our societies infrastructure requires intellect to build/maintain.

    When I ask people how the hell they think all the systems that support them will keep running the general response is that someone somewhere will handle it and they need not think on the hows and whys and whos.

    A skills shortage will force society to regress and intellect will be valued again I think.


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  4. #3  
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    i went into World of Warcraft once, and started writing short bits of information about electricity. physics and geology in the chat window. soon various players started writing angry comments, and calling out for me to be banned.
    when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth
    A.C Doyle
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  5. #4 Re: Anti-intellectualism inhibits learning 
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    Anti-intellectualism inhibits learning

    A large percentage (studies suggest over 90%) of the meaning we derive from communication, we derive from the non-verbal cues that the other person gives.

    How does one communicate with an unseen audience that can be anybody in the world? In face-to-face communication there is so much information about the audience at hand that does not exist on the Internet.

    Does one use language for the 12 year old, or the 18 year old, or the 25 year old, the educated, the non-educated? How to speak coherently to the 12 year old while not infuriating the 18 year old and how to mold an essay for the 30 year old without losing the 18 year old.

    People who write books have editors to act as a third party who understands the material and understands the anticipated audience.

    How do I, who have been studying the matter at hand for months and even years, know what words to provide a parenthetical definition that some may need but others may consider to be condescending?

    Anti-intellectualism (opposing or hostile to intellectuals or to an intellectual view or approach) is so prevailing in the United States that almost every reader has a strong anti-intellectual bias that they are completely unconscious of. This anti-intellectual bias constantly inhibits their effort to read anything that smacks of being ‘intellectual’.

    People might pay me money to lecture them on the proper way to swing a golf club but to lecture anyone on matters intellectual is pompous (excessively elevated or ornate—having or exhibiting self-importance).

    And why are you correct?

    If you knew anything of any survival based intelligence, you would communicate with the CIA, right?
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  6. #5  
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    The following is a reply from a reader.

    Below is a link to a very good book that you may enjoy, written by Richard Hofstadter. This book is multifaceted and the title is somewhat misleading (chosen to induce book sales no doubt) as the theme of the book is very broad and includes an excellent analyses of education in America, with the main thesis an analyses of the American Character from the founding of the Nation to the “present day”. The book won the 1964 Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction and deservedly so. I highly recommend it.

    http://www.amazon.com/Anti-Intellect...=hypographycom

    If we never stretch our intellect by learning new words and new ideas we confine our experience of this marvelous world and all its complications. If you comprehend something after one reading you have wasted your time because you have read something you already know.
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  7. #6 Re: Anti-intellectualism inhibits learning 
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    Anti-intellectualism inhibits learning.
    I am confident, coberst, that you are conscious of my ineherent antagonism to your posts. This one provides a perfect opportunity to explain one of the reasons.
    Anti-intellectualism inhibits learning

    You don't say? While you are at it you could have noted the following:

    Walking across a freeway with your eyes closed is not too smart.
    If you hit your toe with a large hammer it is likely to hurt.
    It is better to learn the basics first.


    Why must you imbue simple, obvious observations with mystical qualities that are as ephemeral as the interest most people take in your posts? Undoubtedly you have something to say, so why don't you say it, instead of waffling? Paragraphs of elegant phraseology, signifying nothing!

    If you comprehend something after one reading you have wasted your time because you have read something you already know.
    Then when you do say something interesting you leave it hanging, naked and undefended. Unproven, unsubstantiated even, devoid of evidential support.

    Pah! I have no idea why either of us bother. [/quote]
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  8. #7 Re: Anti-intellectualism inhibits learning 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    Anti-intellectualism inhibits learning.
    I am confident, coberst, that you are conscious of my ineherent antagonism to your posts. This one provides a perfect opportunity to explain one of the reasons.
    Anti-intellectualism inhibits learning



    Pah! I have no idea why either of us bother.
    [/quote]

    I know why I bother. I think that if we do not significantly increase our level of intellectual sophistication our species and our planet will not survive another 200 years. I attempt to make readers conscious of what are very important considerations. Our bias toward anti-intellectualism is one of our most dangerous ones. Even though you find it to be a yawner.

    I have no idea why you bother.
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  9. #8 Re: Anti-intellectualism inhibits learning 
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    I know why I bother. I think that if we do not significantly increase our level of intellectual sophistication our species and our planet will not survive another 200 years.
    Agreed. At least as far as the species part is concerned, in any productive, progressive kind of a way.

    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    ......I attempt to make readers conscious of what are very important considerations. Our bias toward anti-intellectualism is one of our most dangerous ones. .....
    I have no idea why you bother.
    I bother because I find your turgid prose, with any message buried in a quagmire of verbiage, to be the epitome of the very anti-intellectualism you decry.
    I bother because I hope, against hope, that my criticism - personal, direct and aggressive as it may be - will get you to pull your finger out, speak directly to the issues and stop waffling like a second rate high school essayist.
    In short, I bother, because I actually care.
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  10. #9  
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    Oph...

    Thanks for caring but I cannot write any more clearly than I do.
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  11. #10  
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    Yes you can.

    You just did.
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Yes you can.

    You just did.
    If the concepts are simple then simple words are sufficient. I do not post for the purpose of writing about simple concepts.
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    i went into World of Warcraft once, and started writing short bits of information about electricity. physics and geology in the chat window. soon various players started writing angry comments, and calling out for me to be banned.
    WoW is fun! But I don't play that often though. Seriously, people who play WoW get mad over the smallest things ^^, I find that quite amuzing

    But did they actually get mad because you put out useful and interesting information about physics and stuff? I'm SO going to try that once!
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    If the concepts are simple then simple words are sufficient. I do not post for the purpose of writing about simple concepts.
    I shall paraphrase a remark made at the start of a letter, written by Samuel Clemens, to a friend.

    "I must apologise to you. I intended to write you a two page letter, but did not have the time. Therefore the letter is seven pages long."

    Simple concepts can be expressed in a few simple words, but to do so takes time and effort.

    I've quoted this one before on the TheScienceForum: a book review in a national newspaper for a work on writing, called The Art of Brevity, consisted of this single word - Excellent.
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  15. #14  
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    I agree simple concepts can be expressed in a few words. Our culture is a sound bite and bumper sticker culture that thrives on simple concepts.
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  16. #15  
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    Right. I'll try again.
    All worthwhile concepts are inherently simple.
    The ten commandments.
    e= mc^2
    plate tectonics
    kepler's laws of motion
    the second law of thermodynamics.

    The heart of concepts, when properly understood and explained, is simple. The ramifications may be complex, but the heart remains simple.

    If you wish to discuss the complex ramifications, then, I suggest, it is best to first express the simple heart of the matter in simple terms.
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  17. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Right. I'll try again.
    All worthwhile concepts are inherently simple.
    The ten commandments.
    e= mc^2
    plate tectonics
    kepler's laws of motion
    the second law of thermodynamic
    You have been reading bumper stickers too long.
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Right. I'll try again.
    All worthwhile concepts are inherently simple.
    The ten commandments.
    e= mc^2
    plate tectonics
    kepler's laws of motion
    the second law of thermodynamic
    You have been reading bumper stickers too long.
    Bumper stickers are never too long.
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  19. #18  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arnan
    I think anti intellectualism has less to do with peoples perceptions of intellectual material or people than it has to do with...

    1) anger at being unable to grasp what seems natural in others.
    2) lack of appreciation for the fact that our societies infrastructure requires intellect to build/maintain.
    If you're peddling your particular brand of science to a person with no interest in it, you're going to be having a one-sided conversation. Nobody likes to be talked at. Assume you're the listener and someone's hammering out Christina Aguilera's full biography.

    You're probably going to assume the person has no interest in your own thoughts and opinions.

    Similarly in the case of a more intellectual subject with lots of numbers and fancy symbols, again, if you're not particularly interested... Why shouldn't you be annoyed? The person obviously has no concern for you.

    And if you happened to feel inferior about your own intellect, you might be quick to assume the talker is being condescending.

    Anti-intellectualism is far less of an issue when you take the time to find common ground. If the person you're talking to happens to have absolutely no interest in any intellectual discussion whatsoever (which is unlikely: I knew a handicapped guy who could talk Ancient Rome for hours. Couldn't chew with his mouth closed, but I wouldn't argue with that guy about Roman history), you could always try have a beer and talk about girls.

    However, I don't live in America, nor have I been there. If what I've seen in movies (and if it's in a movie, it must be true!) is anything to go by, there's a great stigma once you've been tagged as an intellectual. Here (South Africa), people are quite accomodating regardless, as long as you don't spit in other people's food.
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