In Psychology Today, Ray Williams asserts, "There is a growing anti-intellectual dumbing down of our culture."  First he lists some examples.  He then states the general proposition.
In American schools, the culture exalts the athlete and good-looking cheerleader. Well-educated and intellectual students are commonly referred to in public schools and the media as "nerds," "dweebs," "dorks," and "geeks," and are relentlessly harassed and even assaulted by the more popular "jocks" for openly displaying any intellect.  These anti-intellectual attitudes are not reflected in students in most European or Asian countries, whose educational levels have now equaled and and will surpass that of the U.S.  And most TV shows or movies such as The Big Bang Theory depict intellectuals as being geeks if not effeminate.
As he notes, the enabling of superficiality has been present for some time, whether we're looking at the spending priorities of high schools or at high-concept contemplation.

It should come as no surprise, though, that when people get a platform to communicate with like-minded people more cheaply, and when they're encouraged in their outrage because it's trendy and transgressive, they'll do so.
Fashion, entertainment, spectacle, voyeurism – we’re directed towards trivia, towards the inconsequential, towards unquestioning and blatant consumerism. This results in intellectual complacency. People accept without questioning, believe without weighing the choices, join the pack because in a culture where convenience rules, real individualism is too hard work. Thinking takes too much time: it gets in the way of the immediacy of the online experience.

Reality TV and pop culture presented in magazines and online sites claim to provide useful information about the importance of The Housewives of [you name the city] that can somehow enrich our lives. After all, how else can one explain the insipid and pointless stories that tout divorces, cheating and weight gain? How else can we explain how the Kardashians,or Paris Hilton are known for being famous for being famous without actually contributing anything worth discussion? The artificial events of their lives become the mainstay of populist media to distract people from the real issues and concerns facing us.

The current trend of increasing anti-intellectualism now establishing itself in politics and business leadership, and supported by a declining education system should be a cause for concern for leaders and the general population, one that needs to be addressed now.
It may not have been given me to finish the task, and yet I will not give it up.

And yet, perhaps we are really seeing the advance of civilization, as Alfred North Whitehead would have it.  On the other hand, being able to follow the latest Donald Trump smackdown or Kardashian family drama on a smartphone the owner has no clue how to build or to service might be what Mr Whitehead was counseling us to fear. "The art of free society consists first in the maintenance of the symbolic code; and secondly in fearlessness of revision, to secure that the code serves those purposes which satisfy an enlightened reason. Those societies which cannot combine reverence to their symbols with freedom of revision, must ultimately decay either from anarchy, or from the slow atrophy of a life stifled by useless shadows."

1 comment:

David Foster said...

"Reverence to their symbols combined with freedom of revision"....I like that.