Sunday, October 10, 2021

Educated Idiots, Critical Race Theory, and Other Bad Ideas: A Recipe for Civilizational Corruption and Decline

“Educated idiots” is how my old man described college-educated people who were completely devoid of common sense and moral intelligence, or what Aristotle called “practical wisdom.” But what made them especially annoying was their arrogance, their assumption that because they were professionally credentialed in one area, they were equally knowledgeable about everything else.
This perennial character flaw was recognized by the ancients. Socrates in his defense speech noted this presumptuous claim among the Athenians he questioned during his search for someone wiser than he. The poets and artisans, for example, because they had many useful skills and technical knowledge, “thought that they also knew all sorts of high matters, and this defect in them overshadowed their wisdom.” Nor were the highly educated immune: “There is nothing so absurd,” the Roman orator Cicero wrote, “that hasn’t been said by some philosopher.” Humans by nature are vain and crave recognition for being superior to their fellows, which make us vulnerable to this willful error of thought and character.
But over the last 150 years, the broadening of formal education to include the masses, the increase and hyper-specialization in university disciplines, and the prestige of the natural sciences from the technologies that improved material existence, have made this bad habit ubiquitous. Worse yet, the aggressive promotion during the last fifty years of “college for everyone”–– which necessarily required lower standards and a decline in foundational skills––multiplied the numbers of people with this affliction, even as the quality of their degrees was degraded.
Those trained in the humanities and soft “sciences,” that is, disciplines that lack the rigor and real-world accountability of real sciences, are particularly prone to this intellectual disease. This phenomenon explains why we see so many preposterous, unsubstantiated, politically biased, and just plain whacky ideas like Critical Race Theory or “white fragility” promulgated by self-styled “brights” with such arrogant certainty, and passed off as “science.”
The result of these changes is manifested in several ways. Human nature and human experience, once the province of religion, philosophy, and traditional wisdom, became the objects of “scientism,” new disciplines like sociology and psychology that adopted the quantification and jargon of real science to disguise as “science” dubious philosophical claims about human and social reality. These disciplines proliferated in the universities, and their conclusions and “knowledge” trickled down into K-12 teacher-training and school curricula. The big leap in the numbers of those attending college distributed this false knowledge more widely throughout the culture, from movies and television shows, to newspapers, magazines, and web sites.
The story of “scientific racism” and eugenics during the first half of the 20th century is a notorious example. The theories of Charles Darwin, particularly the “survival of the fittest,” and the false analogy with the cross-breeding of farm animals, were crudely applied to humans.
Read more from Bruce Thornton HERE

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