The low IQ and low knowledge level of Republican Conservatives going back to the Bushit is legend in this country. The anti-intellectualism of the right provided the fire to elect George W. Bush, and fueled the rise of noted idiots like Sarah Palin AKA The Sno Ho’. While many pundits would like to tie the rise of that to the deleterious effects of right wing media like Fox News, the politicization of stupid by a series of folks starting with Bush Jr along with the plethora of conservative wonks, or a political base of the “great unwashed”, AKA “white trash” fundamentalist christians, and Joe the plumber blue collar types…
I think the answer is something quite different, and a lot more pedestrian.
For years the US Government, the top tiers of he education establishment, and even corporate America have pushed the concept that a better educated (and by this we mean college educated) populace is required to operated the mechanics of first, the industrial, and then a post industrial and now, internet based world. As the country migrated from industrial to a service economy, a great many people were displaced. The former factory workers became the unemployed, as the Government, and then industry continually raised the entry qualification barrier to new jobs higher and higher. This reached the level of ridiculousness, wherein companies, and some parts of the government required a college degree for someone whose job was to empty the wastebaskets, put paper in the copier, or work in the mail room. Discounting entirely the value that Joe, the proverbial plumber, had worked for 20 years, showed up every day, and done his work.
Downgrading the very core values of responsibility, hard, work, and reliability which built this country in the first place. While eliminating jobs.
Politicians tend to talk at this group of folks, very few take the time to really understand their issues and talk to them. It is far easier to demagogue.
This reached a peak when the Bushit and his minions tried to privatize the Government – shifting what had been half a million to a million Civil Service jobs into the private sector of “Beltway Bandits”. The old Civil Service System was broken into Grades from 2 – 16, with the lower levels supplying the workers doing maintenance, clerical, and blue collar facilities. To take a job above a certain level required a college degree, and to reach the highest managerial and professional levels required advanced degrees. These grade 2-12 jobs became the brick and mortar of the black middle class not only in Washington DC, but in every city where there are Federal Offices post WWII. Someone with a high-school education could enter the system, and could possibly advance to a managerial level position making very good money though their career.
What privatization did was to eliminate those low level entry jobs, and convert them to requiring a college degree. The result of which was to eliminate in large part minorities…as well as the working class whites. Let’s call its what it is…Job Gentrification.
When I started in the computer/telecommunications industry there were no colleges or universities offering degrees in computer science. The heavy hitters at the time consisted of folks with degrees in Mathematics or Electrical Engineering. Of course there probably were no more than 2,000 of us worldwide in the telecom side. In the late 80’s I taught a class at one of the local universities having to do with advanced computer systems architecture – which in those days was mostly the big mainframes and supercomputers with an honorable mention to the PC type systems. The first day I walk in, surveyed the class – and to my surprise I knew half of the students and had worked with them on the very same giant computer systems I was talking about. These were the guys who wrote the software, managed the systems, and even in several cases had been key players in inventing some of the technologies! They all had reached the top of the grade at which they could no longer progress in the Government without a degree.
Had a discussion with a Headhunter (recruiter) a few years ago, who informed me I wasn’t qualified for a job due to the lack of a industry (company) certification… When I pointed out to her, I was one of the guys who helped invent the technology in question in the first place, and held patents in the area – and that the guy who “invented the Internet”…
Had no industry certification.
Things were/are much, much worse for the unemployed factory worker – who didn’t have access (money) to education, and was locked out of they types of well paying jobs, doable by someone by taking a few classes at worst.
THAT, to my believe is the real base of the resentment against “intellectualism”. Do they have a right to be angry? Yes. Do they have the right to delve into racism, blaming minorities for their plight? No. They are being used as useful fools…Again.
The culture of anti-intellectualism in America is fueling hateful, racist demagogues — in politics and on TV
It’s a cliché to say that democratic states can’t function properly without an informed electorate. But it’s absolutely true. And this is why, heading into the 2016 election year, I’m nervous about the future. With Donald Trump leading the Republican presidential contenders, even many Republican die-hards are shaking in their boots.
But Trump isn’t the cause, just the symptom. The deeper cause is a strain of anti-intellectualism that runs through the roots of American culture. And while this strain is found on both sides of the political spectrum (see some liberals on vaccines and chemtrails), it’s mostly concentrated among religious conservatives on the political right. For those who espouse anti-intellectualism, conspiracy theories have the same clout as legitimate science, the opinions of non-experts are just as credible as those of the experts, and ideology takes precedence over the cold hard facts.
The US has fostered a culture of anti-intellectualism more than “most other Western countries.” While traveling through Europe and the UK for extended periods of time, I’ve often been quite envious of how respectful other countries are toward those with knowledge in the fields of science and the humanities. In the UK, for example, it’s generally not seen as “uncool” to have a higher degree from a good university. Often, it confers the degree-holder a certain social respect and admiration. Many of the top comedians in the UK have attended institutions like Oxford and Cambridge, including Michael Palin, Eric Idol, John Cleese, David Mitchell, Richard Ayoade and Stephen Fry. And shows such as “QI,” which combines academic discussions with uproarious, irreverent humor, are popular hits.
Not only is the U.S. unique for its love affair with anti-intellectualism, but this romantic relationship appears to have grown stronger over the past few decades. A primary reason for this is no doubt the huge influence that conservative media have had on American culture, such as Fox News, which is currently the most trusted news network in the country. The problem is that “Fox News” is a misnomer. The network is, to quote Jon Stewart, more of a “relentlessly activist” organization for conservative causes than an intellectually honest conveyor of information. Indeed, there are to date at least seven academic studies that have found that Fox News’ viewership constitutes the most misinformed audience out there.
From climate change to healthcare, the Iraq War to the country of Obama’s birth (no, it’s not Kenya), denizens of Fox News are more confident about falsehoods than viewers of any other news network. Several studies even found a positive correlation between how often one watches Fox News and the degree to which one’s worldview is misinformed.
What’s most dangerous about Fox News, though, isn’t its cynical use of Orwellian doublespeak, as in “Fair and Balanced” and “No Spin Zone,” to conceal a conservative agenda. Nor is it the network’s repeated failure to accurately report the facts. Rather, the most dangerous consequence of Fox News is that it discourages that most important form of rigorous curiosity called critical thinking. If people want a single phenomenon to blame for the gradual decline of the American empire, direct your wagging finger at the devaluation of critical thinking skills.
It’s not an accident that Fox News wants an audience that isn’t preoccupied with carefully dissecting complex social, political, economic and religious issues. Critical thinking is perhaps our very best strategy for apprehending the true nature of reality, and as the great comedian Stephen Colbert once declared, “reality has a well-known liberal bias.” In other words, critical thinking could lead to liberalism — or worse, to that most dreaded form of liberal fanaticism called secular progressivism.
Scientific studies actually back up this line of reasoning. Consider a 2012 studypublished in Science, one of the most prestigious journals in the world. This study found that when people are prompted to use their critical faculties, they become less likely to affirm religious statements. In other words, there’s a causal link between “analytical thinking” and religious disbelief. Perhaps this is why the Republican Party of Texas literally wrote into its 2012 platform that, “We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs [that] have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs.” God forbid children start questioning their “fixed beliefs” about religion — or politics…Read the rest Here…