I want to say something about the rising anti-intellectualism that we see in the United States. This isn’t a “yelling into the bullhorn” rant, but rather my thoughts about where these ideas might have come from.
From flat-earthers to COVID non-believers, our society is heading in a direction that I feel is dangerous. Myself and a significant number of my friends and colleagues. It’s frustrating.
I’ll use the flat-earth movement as an example here. The Ancient Greeks proved the spherical Earth over two thousand five hundred years ago using experiments of various kinds. And minus a few crackpots over the years, most people agree with this. Yet, we have a growing subset in our society that “choose” not to “believe.”
It’s the same thing with COVID non-believers and “anti-vaccers.” I was talking with a coworker about the new policies put forth by the Biden administration to curb the spread of the disease in its new variants. She was adamant that she would not receive any COVID vaccines because she didn’t know what was in them. In her opinion, she would not put anything in her body that was rushed to market and might be harmful to her or her kids. She said this while mixing a supplement shake purchased through an MLM. The very supplements that aren’t regulated. The very supplements whose ingredients lists are understandable by only very advanced chemists. I don’t think she saw the irony.
This is where I find the problem that I mentioned with anti-intellectualism. People want to believe that the opinions that they hold are valid, which they are. But they further want to believe that the opinions that they hold are as valid as people that hold expertise in a field. This is of course not true but I think I may have an idea of where this comes from.
People want to be validated. We all want to have someone support and agree with us. I believe that this is part of our social nature. But with the advent of the internet and social media, this had become are easier to find. Easy to the point of finding so many people that agree with an individual’s ideas that those in agreement become a shouting mob that any criticism is drowned out if not outright driven away. Yes, this is the definition of the internet mob. Wer all know about it. Maybe some of my readers have been victims of it.
But this trancends mob mentality. Because these people have online forums where they can exchange ideas, it’s often the same idea that gets “exchanged.” And with this comes constant reinforcement to the point that the group can’t accept any outside ideas. The original line of thought has become sacred and unassailable. The true expert has been shouted down and dissent will not be tolerated. Dunning-Kruger is at it’s most developed.
When this has happened I just leave that group to whatever beliefs they hold dear. It’s not my place, nor is it worth my time and effort to tell the emporer he is buck-ass naked. I feel that this will come to whatever group given time.