The marks of anti-intellectualism

There is nothing wrong with mistrusting intellectuals.  After all, intellectuals often mistrust each other, and even those they trust they often vehemently disagree with.  Nor is there anything particularly wrong about a person not being interested in intellectual pursuits, nothing wrong even in a person actively disliking the practice of certain forms of inquiry.  We are all “anti-intellectual” on some topics, those that we find uninteresting or that we think obvious humbug.  I’ve never been interested enough to investigate claims that aliens built the pyramids or that the moon landing was faked.  Life is short, and I must allocate my time accordingly.  The phenomenon of anti-intellectualism involves something more:  dislike of analysis of a topic one has made one’s own.  If I were to write a book about the claim that aliens built the pyramids, it would be my job to give arguments for this view a careful hearing.  If instead I maintained my aloofness to the topic–now my own topic–but instead made my book entirely ad hominem, say seeking out embarrassing personal facts about those who espouse the alien construction hypothesis or accusing them of being pawns of the oil industry, then I would be practicing anti-intellectualism.  I would be engaging in a fundamentally dishonest practice, an abuse of the life of the mind, regardless of who built the pyramids.

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The Conundrum of a Democratic Snob

Steve Sailer fisks an article by associate professor of history that purports to explain that ancient Phoenicia did not exist, and is only thought to exist because, many centuries later, some grubby nationalists invented the idea of Phoenicia to further their grubby nationalism. What the grubby nationalists called Phoenicia, Dr. Josephine Quinn describes as “a disparate set of neighboring and often warring city-states, cut off from each other for the most part by deep river valleys.”

If we change the “river valleys” to “arms of the wine dark sea,” this would seem to sound a lot like ancient Greece, and everyone nowadays knows the Hellenes never existed. The Hellenes were invented by grubby nationalists inflamed by ouzo and irrational hatred for the Sultan. Continue reading