By understanding the motivations behind objections to teaching evolution, science educators can teach evolution more effectively. The foes of evolution would eventually begin to strategically and systematically portray their opposition to evolution as itself intellectual in nature. He also observes that textbooks and teachers of the day were guarded on the subject of evolution. And a contemporary survey found that two out of three high school science teachers believed that a teacher could teach biology effectively without teaching evolution Behnke, Although Hofstadter might not have been surprised to learn that anti-evolutionism continued in the 50 years after his death, he appears not to have anticipated that it would increasingly disguise its anti-intellectual underpinnings. Tennessee repealed the Butler Act in , the Supreme Court ruled a similar statute in Arkansas to be unconstitutional in , and the Mississippi Supreme Court struck down the last remaining ban in
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Twenty-two people voluntarily signed up to explore a year-old work of intellectual history. And even the waitlist is eleven-deep. But the excitement comes at a time when my relationship with the book has never been more complicated.
All historians have complex views of historical works they esteem. We have been taught too much about the intricacies of context, causation, narrative, etc. First, there is a definite sense, evidenced by the course, that Anti-Intellectualism deserves renewed attention.
The events of the past year created an imperative, apparently widely shared, to think through all of the subsidiary topics contained under the umbrella term of anti-intellectualism: ignorance willful, constructed, and accidental , refusal to engage complexity, unreason, anti-elitism, deception, etc.
Second, several themes in the book deserve deep reflection. The residue of the latter affected late twentieth-century Evangelical circles. Thirdly, the book and its approach deserve renewed and heightened criticism. It should be noted that criticism existed right from the start.
This was primarily through the impulse to avoid elitism. It must be noted that elitism by Hofstadter and in his work is a fine angle through which to criticize Anti-Intellectualism. Fourth, I developed a critique of Anti-Intellectualism over the past year that began, to be honest, as a performative act. The goal was to find a valid and cogent pathway into how Hofstadter should be revised or reworked.
It was much easier than I thought to find criticisms, not ever having deeply explored the immediate reception of the book. The Pulitzer had always signaled to me that enthusiasm outran criticisms. So much for that. The reviewers were harsh. But I was surprised at how engaged I became in a more serious and deeper critique—one that I believe indirectly informed those myriad criticisms, but could not be articulated or spoken at the time.
The larger goal aside, my findings most definitely undermined a great deal of my original enthusiasm for the book. What does all of this mean? These relationships may begin in enthusiasm, or even ardor, but are always contingent on new readings and new perspectives.
Finally, we bring those relationships into the classroom. We never rest on relevance, or the enthusiasm, or lack thereof, of our fellow inquirers—even when the politics seem to demonstrate a superficial alignment.
No historian I know ever slavishly presents the work of another historian or intellectual. There is always an attempt at remove—to foster critical distance. We ask that those who participate in the discussions generated in the Comments section do so with the same decorum as they would in any other academic setting or context.
Since the USIH bloggers write under our real names, we would prefer that our commenters also identify themselves by their real name. We welcome suggestions for corrections to any of our posts. As the official blog of the Society of US Intellectual History, we hope to foster a diverse community of scholars and readers who engage with one another in discussions of US intellectual history, broadly understood.
I grant that all of us today will find many faults with these books, and they owe a large dose of their original impact to the backdrop of the consensus school. But, serious criticisms notwithstanding, I wonder if our current hypersensitivity against elitism inhibits authors from applying sound if not undisputable judgments regarding social or political trends.
I once wrote a personal-reflections essay on intellectual history Reviews in American History, December that Paul Murphy brought to the attention of this blog where it received substantial criticism, but the good news was that the incident introduced me to S-USIH! The piece contained the following statement, with which I still concur: which is not the same as claiming that we should accept the same consensus premises today:. Both books traced endemic sociological pathologies: a scientistic defense of laissez-faire competition in the first instance; a crude, insular, resistance to sophistication and complexity in the second.
Although they focused on aberrant slices of society, both studies described patterns of thought that could be logically supposed to affect indirectly the majority of Americans. I think one could believe books to fade in and out of relevance without being an adherent to cyclical history theories. He read his cases and themes with an extremely rationalist lens, missing—in my opinion—the deeper sources of events.
He wrote an intellectual history of anti-intellectualism. In other words, he read his chosen historical failings like any liberal would—as a lack of practice or trust in rationality on the part of the offender. He found failures in discourse, but stopped before getting to the root causes of the irrationality, or clinging to bad ideas, or emotions, etc.
Intellectual History Blog. Tim Lacy March 2, 2. My complications arise from four areas. Thanks for being this important matter up! Drew: Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. Related Posts Tim Lacy January 26, Sara Georgini January 18, Andrew Hartman September 25,
The Myth of Anti-Intellectualism
I find it hard to believe Ms. Kagan really needed all that coaching. Had she raised so much money for Harvard Law School by talking down to prospective donors and impressing them with her scholarship? What most people want in a judge, or legislator, is not necessarily the most brilliant or learned person, but the one who will support their values most effectively. Otherwise the higher the intellect, the greater the danger. In an extreme case, the legal theorist Carl Schmitt , and countless other stellar German academics, used their gifts in the Nazi cause.
Anti-Intellectualism in American Life
Look Inside. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Nonfiction Anti-Intellectualism in American Life is a book which throws light on many features of the American character. Its concern is not merely to portray the scorners of intellect in American life, but to say something about what the intellectual is, and can be, as a force in a democratic society. Hofstadter unfolds the fascinating story, it is no crude battle of eggheads and fatheads.
The Tea Party is timeless
The most interesting parts were in the historical observations. The fifth part on anti-intellectualism in education, particularly concerning the state of secondary education seemed irrelevant; at A classic work on the dismissal of intellectual practices in America, differentiated from similar but less prominent movements in other parts of the world. The work was written during the Kennedy
Anti-intellectualism and anti-evolutionism: Lessons from Hofstadter
Twenty-two people voluntarily signed up to explore a year-old work of intellectual history. And even the waitlist is eleven-deep. But the excitement comes at a time when my relationship with the book has never been more complicated. All historians have complex views of historical works they esteem. We have been taught too much about the intricacies of context, causation, narrative, etc. First, there is a definite sense, evidenced by the course, that Anti-Intellectualism deserves renewed attention.