John’s post on how educated conservatives are even crazier than uneducated conservatives really hit the mark for me. In my regular life, I’m able to avoid socializing with other academics for the most part, but on this sabbatical, my after-work life is like an extended episode of the Charlie Rose show. I’ve never listened to so much Vichy liberal bullshit in my life.
Granted, I’m a deeply unserious person who thinks it’s irresponsible not to speculate about the possible effects of guillotining a few hundred members of the permanent government (I honestly believe that it is irresponsible not to consider this, I do), but even so…the ignorance of contemporary politics I see from these people is off the charts. I’ve been asked “what’s Obama hiding, why won’t he release his long-form birth certificate”. I’ve been looked at like I was Che Guevera for saying that the U of Chicago econ department lost credibility after the 2008 crash. I’ve spent half an hour explaining why it’s politically difficult for Obama to propose a new gasoline tax (this was a little different than the others, because in this case the person seemed willing to learn at least).
People are dumb. Really fucking dumb. It doesn’t matter what kind of a degree they have after their name, they’re still idiots, maybe just clever, erudite idiots (maybe). And politics is complicated and non-obvious, at first blush. It’s a lot easier to say “Al Gore is fat” than to consider the evidence on global warming, it’s a lot easier to say “both sides do it” than to put Bush v Gore and the Clinton impeachment in historical context. Everyone is this way, I’m sure, I don’t care if you’re Donald Trump or Irving the tailor. I enjoy firing up the Clash and writing diatribes against our Galtian overlords, and I know that’s not a rational exercise. (But the men at the factory really are old and cunning, all the evidence bears that out.)
I fear more and more that educational credentials (when paraded around in public discourse, not within narrow fields of expertise) and all this talk of “cognitive elite” are just new ways of saying STFU plebe.