Monday, October 13, 2008

There is no "I" in "Intellectual";
There are Four.

PRINCETON, NJ - OCTOBER 13:  Princeton Profess...Image by Getty Images via DaylifeThere is an anti-intellectual streak in the United States. It is not new, but it is perhaps most visible during election season. Barack Obama has been called an elitist for having attended Ivy league schools. So, he uses code language, saying he was lucky enough to live the American promise and go to the "best schools." Anything but the "H-word": Harvard.


Portrayal Of Obama As Elitist Hailed As Step Forward For African Americans

George Bush, Al Gore and John Kerry all have Ivy League degrees and all have tried to downplay their connection to these schools because they are afraid of being tarred with the reputation of elitist. The further implication is that well-educated people are utterly disconnected from the "real world" (whatever that is) and that the academic elite should be quarantined inside their ivory towers! Sarah Palin (who attended 5 colleges, culminating in a degree from the University of Idaho) proudly compared herself to Harry Truman, the last president without a college degree.

What's going on here -- especially from candidates who argue for a meritocracy (rule by the best qualified) on issues related to affirmative action?

That's why I was so excited to hear that Paul Krugman won the Nobel Prize in Economics yesterday. It was a sort of Revenge of the Nerds. Krugman is not only a widely admired Princeton scholar, he is also a columnist for the New York Times. In other words, he is a public intellectual. He is not only a world-class thinker, but also a man of enormous common sense. As a small example, click on the title of this post. Krugman is blunt here as always -- and check the date of his piece. He warned of a housing collapse long before it happened.

Do you agree in the existence of what historian Richard Hofstadter has termed the Anti-Intellectualism in American Life? Extra credit if you can explain what the title of this post means!

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15 comments:

Leslie Co said...

I've always found it so odd that anyone would want a president who didn't have a good education! They are in fact trying to control the country (in simple terms) so I really hope that the candidate has some knowledge of what to do! In fact, this is one of the reasons why I am against Sara Palin. Yes, she is intelligent, you do not have to go to an Ivy league school in order to be intelligent, I just feel that someone who did go to an Ivy League is, well, a bit more qualified and it shows great intelligence.

The Anti-Intellectualism in American Life goes on not only in the elections but I feel like I'd have to be an idiot in order to be popular. For some reason, it is "cool" to be stupid. And it pretty much has always been that way. I personally wish I knew more than I do and I strive to learn more, so call me a geek because to some people, that's just not "cool".

Matt H said...

In the modern U.S., a bachelors degree is becoming the new high school diploma. If Sarah Palin prides herself on not going to college. Do we really want a president or vice-president that hasn't had a college education? Are our standards as a country gotten to be that low? Honestly, if you're smart enough to get into an Ivy League school, you shouldn't be afraid of what people will think of you. It wasn't your fault that you're that smart.

I believe that a capital "I" looks like a lower-case "l" and so there look to be 4 I's (3 l's and 1 I) in Intellectual. Also, they mention 4 people who went to an Ivy League school and so there are 4 people there who can say "I."

Miles said...

Personally, a college education of any sort is extremely important and if anyone plans on becoming president they should be well schooled. When I turn of voting age next year I certainly do not plan on voting for someone who hasn't graduated college nor someone who never attended school. One doesn't have to attend Princeton or Yale but it would definitely help. I want someone who is smart in many different ways to be president, because frankly if one hasn't had the proper education, how at all are they eligible to face the current problems we have now? Just because you’re a "plain folk" doesn't make you qualified. I don't want a farmer from Topeka running the country. The whole idea of trying to shy away from ones prestigious education seems absurd to me. If I make it into Harvard I'm gonna paint the town Crimson! The message that the Parties are trying to convey is that their candidate can relate to the people, but I don't think its necessary to be ignorant in order to relate to the population. In this day and age it is necessary to have an above average education and yet be knowledgeable when it comes to putting ones self in another's shoes. Overall the downplay of an excellent education is really disappointing because people should be rewarded for their efforts and achievements rather than made fun of and mocked.

As far as the title goes, I find it to be a satirical message saying that the capital "I" looks like the lower case "l" thus saying there are four "I's" in intellectual and showing that in itself it is unintelligent.

Gordie C said...

Mr. Doc Oc,
in regards to your extra credit question i believe i have an answer. Since people are trying to hide their intellectual achievements or "dumb down" for some odd reason. The blog post is spelled Intellectual, by saying there isn't only 1 "I" but 4 because the "L"s which are lower-case look like "I"s. An intellectual person would pick up the difference of the "I"s and the "L"s. Now that politicians are hiding their college degrees so they can be a "normal" person and not an elitist would say there were 4 "I"s when actually there was only 1

Maddie M said...

Mr. O,
I think the answer to the extra credit is that the capital "i" looks like the other three lower case "L"s. I think its supposed to be a joke about people being uneducated and believing that the L's are actually i's, which causes them to say there are four i's instead of one i.

Jillian F said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gutty The Great said...

I feel like canidates try an hide their inteliigence in order to attract more middle class and blue collar people. Especially Barack Obama. Barack looks like a very intelligent, serious, and well educated man. I'm not complaining about his attributes, but I can see how some view him as elite. I think that it helps to appear more "plain folk" and less educated to appeal to the blue collar folk. Look at George BUsh, he looks like the kind of guy who you would want to sit down and have a beer with. Maybe go to a ball game or shoot some polar bears. He doesn't come off as elite and extremely intelligent. Though that may actually be because he is not in fact very intelligent. Reguardless, he did go to Yale so he did attend and elite institution. In response to the extra credit, five other people have already answered it. Their answers are visible as I write this comment so there is really no point. Though I do go to New Trier so you should be able to assume that I am smart enough to answer it anyways.
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Matt B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt B said...

There is no 'I' in intellectual means that intellectual people are not egotistical, that they don't always credit everything to themselves. They do not refer to themselvevs always with 'I', like the saying there is no 'I' in teamwork. The second part of the phrase, there are four Is in intellectual is a play one the word eyes an intellectual person has glasses, and with the glasses the person has four eyes, stereotypically so.

Jerbear said...

There is no 'I' in intellectual means that intellectual people are not egotistical, that they don't always credit everything to themselves. They do not refer to themselvevs always with 'I', like the saying there is no 'I' in teamwork. The second part of the phrase, there are four Is in intellectual is a play one the word eyes an intellectual person has glasses, and with the glasses the person has four eyes, stereotypically so.

also written by matt berusch

Boris P said...

The four I's is a play on "eyes". Intellectual are stereotyped to have glasses so they have 4 eyes.

S. Bolos said...

Nice job, Matt, Jeremy and Boris! That was the answer we intended!

Miles said...

matt b and jeremy have the exact same response!

Kimber said...

For years people have denied their own intellect. Students in high school often deny that they have studied or done well on exams. Somehow, having good grades has a stigma. You must not be well-rounded or fun if you’re a straight “A” student. This same denial of intelligence is seen throughout the world and in our own politics. Governor Palin is a prime example. It seems she was chosen for being an ordinary “Joes-6-pack, hockey mom with lipstick.” They are attempting to bring the Republican Party back to the ordinary mainstream public. Fortunately, I believe that the ordinary American public can see past this ploy. In a different arena, education, there appears to be a shift toward technology and practical skills and away from education designed for intellectual pursuits alone. This may stem from the thought that the common folk work herded than the cushy intellectuals that sit back and ponder and read. There is some friction between the intellectuals and the common working folk. Now, our candidates are following this trend by downplaying their intellect to reach the common middle and lower class.

Kelly said...

I truly don't understand why anyone would want to dumb themselves down. Many different types of people do this. I think that the president should be the last person doing this. Who wouldn't want the president to be well educated? Although they want to be an ordinary American, not be educated would be the exact opposite in my opinion. It always seems that people that want to seem as if they aren’t intellectual are striving attention. I also see this with girls trying to get boys attention and sometimes it works. I don’t understand because I think that being smart would draw just as much or more attention. The president obviously wants attention, but pretending to be less smart than they really are, isn’t positive attention. It does seem as if it is a double sided thing for presidency though. They want to share that they graduated from elite colleges and are “qualified” but they want to seem “ordinary” and not “elitists” so they try share that at the beginning then put it at the back burner.