We, as a species, are much more fragile than we think. It’s easy to assume that I am making that statement based on my love for fiction and sci-fi books, where the demise of the human race is just an inter-galactic spaceship or super virus away. No, the real demise of the human race is right in front of us every single day and we willingly ignore it. So what could possible spell disaster for us fragile humans faster than aliens or the zombie apocalypse? The outright abandonment of intellectualism.
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So what exactly do I mean by “Anti-Intellectualism”? I am talking about the exaltation and embrace of ignorance. Ignorance in all forms. Sure, those skits you see on TV where people get interviewed on the streets and asked simple questions that they miserably fail at answering are funny to an extent, but they are also scary. I mean, a recent poll from Newsweek showed that 30% of Americans can’t name the vice president. It’s simply not cool to be smart anymore. People are more concerned with fitting in than they are about being aware of the world around them, and it’s leading to dumber and dumber generations. We are literally developing a culture of acceptable ignorance.
The Facets of Anti-Intellectualism
Apply this culture of ignorance to out lives, and what do you get?
What could be more ignorant than judging a person based on the color of their skin or where they are from? This is an old ignorance that, somehow, certain parts of the world have never been able to shake. I always hear people use the term “racial issues”, especially here in the US. You know what makes race an issue? YOU DO. By mentioning it. Violence is violence, hate is hate, intolerance is intolerance – no matter what the color of the skin of the people perpetrating it. Race simply becomes jet-fuel on an already stupid fire.
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This is another very old ignorance that, again, we as modern humans haven’t been able to shake. I don’t know of a religion that doesn’t teach tolerance. So why is it that there are certain factions of major religions that are so intolerant of others that they resort to violence. More people have been killed in the name of religion throughout history than for any other reason. Now, I am in no way saying religion is bad, I think we should all be able to believe in what we want to believe, and that others should be understanding and accepting of that. Again, isn’t that what all the major religions tell us?
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Trust me, as an American and a Texan, I understand this one all too well. I get being proud of where you are from, and I believe wholeheartedly in national pride. But being so ignorant as to not like a person because they are not where you are from is as far from intellectual as it gets. Our cultural ignorance has gotten to the point where it extends into both racist and religious misguidance. You see examples of this all the time when you see someone of Middle Eastern decent being tagged as a “terrorist”. Not everyone from the Middle East is a Muslim, and not all Muslims are fanatical. Save the “my country is better than your country” rhetoric for a soccer match.
Okay, so let’s take all of the obvious factors out, and look at the everyday ignorance that is all around us. Things like people not knowing what it is that they are eating. I love using the example of gluten. At my local grocery store, they have little “gluten-free” signs all over the place. I’m pretty sure that I know there isn’t gluten in my chicken breasts. But then, I have to remember that there are people who have no idea what gluten is – they’ve just been told it is bad for them. That kind of basic ignorance about something as simple as our food shocks me. Whether you believe that GMOs are bad for you or not, the MAJORITY of people don’t even know what they are – yet they will buy something that is GMO-free over something that isn’t because that is the popular thing to do.
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At its heart, anti-intellectualism is a willing lack of awareness. People are quicker to make a decision based on what they see in their facebook newsfeed, rather than what is in their head. It’s easier that way. I challenge each and every person that reads this and agrees that anti-intellectualism is killing us, to share something informative today. I’m not saying you have to beat down people with your opinions, I’m saying expose someone to something informative. Awareness is the only way to break the cycle of ignorance that we seem to be spinning in. The movie “Idiocracy” wasn’t just a funny movie, it was a warning.