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Is There a New Geek Anti-Intellectualism? 949

Posted by timothy
from the but-the-greeks-were-great-philosophers dept.
Larry Sanger writes "Geeks are supposed to be, if anything, intellectual. But it recently occurred to me that a lot of Internet geeks and digerati have sounded many puzzlingly anti-intellectual notes over the past decade, and especially lately. The Peter Thiel-inspired claim that college is a waste of time is just the latest example. I have encountered (and argued against) five common opinions, widely held by geeks, that seem headed down a slippery slope. J'accuse: 'At the bottom of the slippery slope, you seem to be opposed to knowledge wherever it occurs, in books, in experts, in institutions, even in your own mind.' So, am I right? Is there a new geek anti-intellectualism?"
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Is There a New Geek Anti-Intellectualism?

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  • False Premmise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AvitarX (172628) <me@brandywinehundre[ ]rg ['d.o' in gap]> on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @03:44PM (#36366450) Journal

    Geeks are supposed to be, if anything, intellectual

    I disagree, geeks should be doers. They should make things, be it overly detailed costumes, or new pieces of electronics. I don't think the hacker ethic is about intellectualism, it's about doing. The intellectual part is a side-effect, and a helper, but it is not a requirement. Maybe I'm wrong to refer to hot-rodders as car geeks though.

    • Agree completely. My graduate education was almost completely liberal arts, I only had a token EE class as an undergrad (CS major) and I still spend a ton of time with my soldering iron. I consider myself a geek, although I play city-league basketball and don't live in my parent's basement so maybe I'm a hybrid. I guess the point of my rambling is that the need to create is what defines me as a geek, not any pseudo-intellectual ivory tower nonsense.
      • Re:False Premmise (Score:4, Insightful)

        by StarvingSE (875139) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @04:27PM (#36367258)
        not any pseudo-intellectual ivory tower nonsense. I think this is the kind of anti-intellectual thinking the article is referring to...
        • by phlinn (819946)
          That's not anti-intellectual, it's anti academia. Intellectual != college educated.
          • I'd have to concede the point to the parent poster, "anti academia" *it's* intellectualism.

            Academia is the formal practice of generating and passing on knowledge, to be against formal education is to be against the scientific method that develop it and informs it.

            A point could be made that the institutions are filled with corrupted and/or clueless bureaucrats but you are arguing from the point of view that it is "pseudo-intellectual ivory tower nonsense".

            Your need to create makes you an artist or just creat

    • by 0racle (667029)
      Exactly, what makes you a geek is a single-minded passion, not any level of intelligence or intellectual capacity or drive. An Otaku for instance, doesn't have to be the brightest bulb in the bunch, but damn if they don't know that in episode X Bob did Y at time 3:24 and why it's important to the story.
    • by poetmatt (793785)

      geek as a term just shows a lack of understanding. The US education system in general is mostly a joke and ridiculously overpriced with standards beyond low. No child left behind etc just made it substantially worse.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Jeri Ellsworth: highschool dropout, race car builder, race car driver, FPGA designer, builder of transistors from scratch.

      School does not promote intellectualism, school is rote training. Anyone who loves learning does it in spite of school.

      • Re:False Premmise (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Hognoxious (631665) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @04:21PM (#36367154) Homepage Journal

        Isaac Newton, Cambridge graduate, member of the Royal Society (and later Prpresident thereof), mathematician, physicist, astronomer, philosopher, theologist.

        OK, he was also an alchemist. But he was probably a better statistician than you. I know I am.

        • by TeknoHog (164938)
          Died a virgin, a true geek.
        • Oh yes, Newton the theologist, Christians always bring that up, sad thing that they can't name any advances in theology or useful models or theories of Christianity he left behind.

      • The plural of "ancedote" is not "data".

        Successful dropouts are noteworthy because they are the exception.

        No one reacts with surprise and astonishment when they hear about how someone with an advanced degree achieves financial, technical, or creative success. Why do you suppose that is?

    • Re:False Premmise (Score:5, Interesting)

      by obarel (670863) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @04:03PM (#36366836)

      It didn't take long to start discussing the definition of a geek.

      Any what is the definition? Are you saying that someone who spends all his time sitting in a library and reading every book about insects is not a geek? On the other hand, if you spend all your money and free time trying to build your own wind turbine then you're also a geek.

      What is the conclusion? Either there is no definition, or any definition is broad enough to be useless.
      One thing is clear: Chuck Norris is not a geek.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Chuck Norris is/was a karate geek.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by grcumb (781340)

        It didn't take long to start discussing the definition of a geek.

        And that is a pretty good place to start defining geek nature.

        Rather than being anti-intellectual, geek nature is unconventional, in the sense that a typical geek:

        • Prefers empirical evidence to hypothesis;
        • Questions whether the dictionary is right;
        • If necessary, writes his own damn encyclopedia;
        • Prefers reasoning to received wisdom;
        • Is not nearly as susceptible to appeals to authority as others;
        • And - the sometimes fatal flaw - prefers others to partake of his wisdom than to partake of theirs.
    • by hey! (33014)

      I think you need to develop an ontology of geekdom. The root class (the union of all kinds of geeks) are people whose interests are incomprehensible to most people. Beneath that overarching class that you have

      (a) geeks that do unusual things
      (b) geeks that know unusual things
      (c) geeks that create unusual things

      Membership in just one of these subclasses qualifies you as a geek, although naturally the subclasses overlap. To illustrate, let's take the Society for Creative Anachronism. Participating in SCA eve

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @03:44PM (#36366452)

    I went to big state school, and it didn't make me more intellectual. Most of my classmates were just ordinary people trying to get degrees so they could get good jobs. If any of them were intellectuals, they were that way before they went to school.

    • by uniquename72 (1169497) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @04:27PM (#36367252)

      I went to big state school, and it didn't make me more intellectual.

      Nothing will make an intellectually non-curious person into an intellectual. In a perfect world, intellectuals would go to college, and everyone else would just go to trade school, or learn on their own (or just be garbage men, which is fine).

      Instead, college is a business, and to maximize profits they need to attract everyone they can. Unfortunately, this means a lot of people who have no business going to college -- who will neither gain anything from their time there, nor contribute to the intellectual pool of the community (or the world in general) -- wind up drinking their way through an extra 4 years of high school.

      Rather than pushing everyone to go to college -- which leads us to the broken system we have -- I'd rather we encourage more people NOT to go to college. Leave that for the thinkers and those who want to better themselves. As someone who's worked at a public university for 10 years, I estimate that these people make up less than 20% of the student body.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        In a perfect world, intellectuals would go to college, and everyone else would just go to trade school, or learn on their own (or just be garbage men, which is fine)

        You don't need to be a career academic/intellectual to gain a lot from a college education.
        Besides, would you count lawyers, doctors, computer scientists or engineers as just "trades" and therefore not deserving of a college education?
        In fact, now I've had time to think about it, you're a fucking twat.

  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [hmryobemag]> on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @03:45PM (#36366462) Journal

    The "college is a waste of time" thing is purely economic advice, nothing anti-intellectual about it.

    Tagging article "troll."

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @03:47PM (#36366500) Journal
      Arguably, treating college as 'purely economic' is the anti-intellectual part(or a sign that you experienced a shitty school...)
      • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [hmryobemag]> on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @03:51PM (#36366564) Journal

        Oh jeez not the "go to college to become a better rounded person" argument. College costs as much as a mid-range to high-end sports car. Lower and middle-class people don't have the luxury of going to college for the pleasure of learning. There must be a return on such a significant investment. It's that simple, it has nothing to do with anti-intellectualism.

        • Oh, I'd be the first to agree that colleges are damned expensive, sufficiently so that most people's access to them is largely an economic question. That much is indisputable.

          However, the fact that "many people can afford to pay little or nothing for those aspects of college that don't make purely financial sense", which is unquestionably true, does not imply that those aspects don't exist, just that people can't afford them.
        • I would argue that this is only the case because of the rampant anti-intellectual sentiment in 'Merca these days. In Europe, learning for the sake of learning is still valued and is something that is feasible to the average person. By contrast, in America, where nobody gives a fuck about anything that does not have a dollar sign attached to it, this is not the case. Tuition goes up year after year and nobody does anything about it, because it is viewed as an investment rather than a tool to be used for pers
        • by rmstar (114746) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @04:42PM (#36367508)

          Oh jeez not the "go to college to become a better rounded person" argument. College costs as much as a mid-range to high-end sports car. Lower and middle-class people don't have the luxury of going to college for the pleasure of learning. There must be a return on such a significant investment. It's that simple, it has nothing to do with anti-intellectualism.

          Your position is deeply anti-intellectual, apart of being factually wrong. The "become a better rounded argument" wasn't being made. An intellectual derives from his knowledge and thoughts, from his creations and his intellectual environment much more pleasure and fullfillment than most people get out of owning a sports car.

          That was the anti-intellectualism in your post. The factually wrong part comes from many lower and middle-class people going to college for the pleasure of learning. They really do. It's called having a life. It might not be the best in terms of money, but it is not that bad either.

          You see, not doing the things you want to do in life for purely economic reasons is also irrational behaviour.

        • by Antisyzygy (1495469) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @04:47PM (#36367586)
          With a bachelors degree you make about 1.9 times as much as someone with a high school diploma. The average salary is about 64,000 vs. 37,000. So if you figure you have 150k in debt after getting a BA or BS, you can live off the 37,000 and pay 27,000 a year to your loan. You pay it off between 7-10 years. Then over the rest of your life you will make between 837,000 - 918,000 more than a person with a high school diploma. Now, most people aren't stupid enough to spend 150k on only a Bachelors. It cost me about 40k to get my BS in Applied Math but I spent two years at a community college. You still have to factor in the recession and unemployment rate being the highest among the younger generation, but it still seems like it pays off to me.
        • by mcmonkey (96054) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @04:49PM (#36367604) Homepage

          Oh jeez not the "go to college to become a better rounded person" argument. College costs as much as a mid-range to high-end sports car. Lower and middle-class people don't have the luxury of going to college for the pleasure of learning. There must be a return on such a significant investment. It's that simple, it has nothing to do with anti-intellectualism.

          Why can't the pleasure of learning be the significant return?

        • by eepok (545733)

          "Lower and middle-class people don't have the luxury of going to college for the pleasure of learning."

          Who said anything about "luxury"? You're the one that brought in the comparison to the luxury item. Education isn't about anything but better understanding the world around you (through the lens of one of many specializations in higher education).

          If you can't see the value of understanding, then you shouldn't be talking about education.

      • by vlm (69642)

        Arguably, treating college as 'purely economic' is the anti-intellectual part(or a sign that you experienced a shitty school...)

        Probably in his lower 20s, due to the educational bubble... Youngsters now a days need to take a lifetime vow of poverty if they go to college, very much like the only way to get an education in the middle ages was to take a vow of poverty and enter the monastery. Not much has changed in CS since then, not the money or the dating life. I think back on how much I learned post-college, which in part required me to spend money the youngsters will never have, due to $200K student loans...

      • Well, you can be an intellectual who believes that one can develop their intellect without school and that college doesn't do a lot to help you. I happen to belong to this school of thought. I know plenty of college graduates who have not mastered formal logic, abstract thinking, written expression, nor have they come out of college knowing much about anything really.

        Just as I've met many liberal arts grads who possess less liberal arts knowledge than myself. I know many people with technical degrees t

    • by JeffSh (71237) <[gro.0m0m] [ta] [todhsalsffej]> on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @03:48PM (#36366516)

      In order for the statement "college is a waste of time" to be anti-intellectual, one has to presume there is intellectual knowledge to be obtained exclusively from college and nowhere else.

      I find a vast majority of students (these days or perhaps any other) treat college more as an extension of high school and a social/networking opportunity more than raw pursuit of exposure to academics.

      I do not like the way the question is posed. It seems to make assumptions that are not necessarily true in order to posit that "geeks are becoming anti-intellectual".

      • by hedwards (940851)

        The intellectual value of college is hardly the classes, it's spending time with similarly interested people outside of class time debating and discussing various things. Outside of the academic world it's nigh impossible to find that kind of density of intellectually astute individuals.

        Personally, I learned far more from my classmates than I ever did from the lectures. And that's not surprising, the banking model of education [wikipedia.org] was never particularly well suited to learning. People generally don't retain fa

        • by sjames (1099)

          However, is it absolutely necessary to intellectualism and unique to college?

          If not, it is not anti-intellectual to suggest that there may be other things that provide a better value.

      • I do not like the way the question is posed. It seems to make assumptions that are not necessarily true in order to posit that "geeks are becoming anti-intellectual".

        That's called "Begging the question".

        I agree with you in general. My college experience was very little intellectual experience, mostly practical work training and well-rounding busywork. I feel like I came out of it far smarter, but not more "intellectual" (depending on how you define such a thing). I think I've learned more intellectual thinking from books than college.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Seumas (6865)

          Others, much smarter than myself, have often repeated that "College is where boys go to drink, girls go to find husbands, and everyone goes to prolong their childhood another four years".

        • Like so much in life, you'll get out of college what you put into it. If you expect your professors to push intellectual rigor upon you, you'll be disappointed.

          But if you demand intellectual rigor from yourself, you'll experience the fruits of it.

          Yes, that means that you can do the same thing outside of school. But it's easier to surround yourself with like-minded people and expert thinkers in a university setting.
      • by metlin (258108) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @04:57PM (#36367722) Journal

        In order for the statement "college is a waste of time" to be anti-intellectual, one has to presume there is intellectual knowledge to be obtained exclusively from college and nowhere else.

        Yes, there is intellectual knowledge to be obtained exclusively from college and nowhere else.

        I cannot speak for others, but I can certainly speak for myself. I almost did a PhD in Quantum Computing and opted out. I did not realize it then (but I realize now) that the reason I decided not to pursue the program is because I was less interested in the physics aspect of it and more interested in the math aspect of it.

        So, I quit to do my startup, ended up in consulting, and now I'm trying my hand at another startup, thinking that I could find a substitute for my obsession. But I could not. And somewhere amidst all this, after much soul searching, I decided that what I really wanted to do was pursue math (and not really PhD).

        I figured, I'd study something different and and use my free time to do math, because, hey, you can always learn and do stuff on your own. Even in a field like math, where the community is pretty small and you can pretty much email anyone (except, of course, Grisha Perelman) and expect a response, it is impossible to do anything worthwhile outside of a university environment.

        Part of what school offers is a support system, and one where when you have questions, you've peers and experts to answer them. Where you don't have long periods of waiting between periods when encountering obstacles. In grad school, if I had a question, I'd ask my advisor and he'd put me in touch with the right people, and they'd respond quickly. Outside of it, you're pretty much on your own. Nobody will be willing to explain a paper (and trust me, math papers, especially the good ones, are pretty fucking obscure).

        The other part is the contacts and networking aspect, which you readily dismiss without a second thought. The ones who've done good work outside of academia have only been able to do so because they've had the necessary background, training, and *contacts* within the academia to help them out.

        By supporting the premise that college is a waste of time because *some* students are not taking advantage of it is speaking for all students. Even so, the things that I learned in completely unrelated classes are useful outside of it.

        I learned Fourier Analysis in high-school, which had no meaning outside or applicability (ironically, it was considered "pure math" back in the day). Come college, and I started using Fourier Analysis in DSP. And having studied Fourier Analysis in high-school made it easy for me to do very well because I had the basics licked, even when I thought it was quite pointless. My latest startup uses yield management, and I am fortunate that I paid attention to my economics classes to speak halfway intelligently to investors. That's the value of education, even when you don't realize it.

        So, yes. If you're planning on doing something worthwhile and making genuine contributions to the human society and civilization, it's mighty fucking hard to do it outside a college environment/lacking a college background. And a handful of examples and exceptions don't make the rule. This is especially important when you consider the fact that the vast majority in fact need school, and the minority would have done well independent of a collegiate education.

        And for the record, I believe the OP is referring to exactly the kind of anti-intellectual sentiment that you're spewing forth.

    • by Marillion (33728) <ericbardesNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @03:56PM (#36366664)
      "College as a waste of time" is also an indicator of what's wrong with modern university education. They're turning into glorified trade schools. I've had recently graduates tell me, "We studied .NET at school." I'm sorry, .NET is a trade not Computer Science. In my book, you're not a real computer graduate unless you believe that Computer Science is language agnostic.
  • Question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @03:47PM (#36366498)

    Is an intellectual somebody who has memorized a lot of information, or is it somebody who is adept at learning?

    I ask because I don't see a case of 'cool to be stupid', instead I see an evolution of how we function in a society where we've stored our knowledge in a manner that is dirt-simple to get at.

    • Or, is an intellectual someone who is removed from the real world by dwelling in the pillared halls of academia? Is an intellectual someone who condescendingly looks down on the unwashed masses? There are a lot of uses of intellectualism - some are positive and some are not. It depends on the person. We have to define intellectual (like you were implying) before we can have a more meaningful discussion about whether or not post-modern-neo-lib-con-uber geeks are pro- or anti-intellectualism.
  • That was quick!

  • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @03:49PM (#36366524)

    None of the people in that article are geeks. All liberal-arts majors, book authors, marketing personnel, PR, spokemodels, management, etc. If I remember my HHGttG correctly, they're all from the "B Ark". As a group, they've always been anti-intellectual, its just they've recently had a thin veneer of geekiness smoothed over them.

    It may be that I'm out of touch and being a geek now means you're a "tech journalist / blogger".

  • Bull... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shadowfaxcrx (1736978) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @03:49PM (#36366534)

    Seems to me that "college is a waste of time" is an economic, not an anti-learning argument. Economically college can be a waste of time. How many English majors are out there making huge bucks vs how many of them are working at Home Depot? How many people got a degree in "web design" or some such fluffery in the 90's only to discover that, gee, there's not a huge market out there for such services.

    If I'm going to end up working at McDonalds after I get my 4-year degree, then I might as well skip the degree and work at McDonalds 4 years early.

    As for learning, dunno about the rest of you guys but my college education was largely an exercise in bullshit. Repeat what the professor said if you want an A. Disagree with his premises if you want an F. That's not learning. It's regurgitation. Parrots can do that too, and they don't attend college to do it.

    And of course there's the student attitude side of "education" as well. A good number of my "getting educated" classmates liked to say stupid crap like "well I paid for the class and so the professor owes me an A." Those guys aren't there to learn. They're there to get a piece of paper that says they went to college. That piece of paper is worthless in and of itself. The value comes from either having learned something (and these guys pretty much limited their learning to the fluid dynamics of beer bongs) or from getting a job that you could not otherwise have gotten.

    Well, you probably can't get that job in this economy anyway, and meanwhile manufacturing jobs are starting to open up, and remain open because companies can't find qualified welders etc. Economically speaking, currently anyway, it makes more sense for a lot of people to go to a trade school and learn how to weld than it does to go to a college and learn how to do something that they won't be able to do once they graduate.

    That's not anti-intellectualism. It's anti-impracticality.

     

    • Pretty valid points. College is essentially intellectual exercise and not necessarily a practical (i.e. - monetary investment) exercise. I was an English major and wound up being an IT Manager the past 15+ years. A degree shows you can learn, regurgitate facts, and comform to professors' requirements. All of those years and experiences could've been replaced with a bottom rung IT A+ type of job and taking some technical certification classes...

  • The reason geeks look down on college is because the vast majority of colleges/universities set their bar too low. College professors and students are insulated from market forces and over time this has eroded the system.

    BTW, I worked 40 hours a week as a video game developer in college, and still pulled out an A- average at my crappy school (USF) for a Biology degree, even though I skipped most of the classes to go to work.

    I think I learned about 10x from my job, where we had to deliver a marketable produc

    • by toppavak (943659) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @04:00PM (#36366754)

      College professors and students are insulated from market forces and over time this has eroded the system.

      On the contrary, I think the exact opposite is the problem. Colleges are increasingly under pressure to teach skills that will get students jobs, recruit more students to get more funding and twist every metric possible in order to move up in rankings. Take admissions and graduation statistics, for example, the more students that get rejected from a university the more "prestigious and exclusive" it becomes, on the flip side the more students that fail out of the university, the more inept it appears. It is thus in every university's best interest to encourage the widespread ideas that everybody can and should go to college and then relax graduation standards for accepted students.

      Even academic research is slowly but surely moving away from high-risk, publicly funded fundamental work to applied technology development (itself not necessarily a bad thing) which has gone hand-in-hand with the rise of the university Technology Transfer Office and a drive to squeeze every drop of money out of that academic research rather than focusing on the core university mission to produce and disseminate knowledge as widely as possible. While the dissemination of many technologies may benefit from patenting and exclusive licensing (particularly tech that requires significant private investment to develop and bring to market), the promise of commercial success has motivated patenting in many fields which do not fit this model.

  • .. I didn't go and I didn't get a degree. Now I make a very comfortable living working three days a week instructing those that DID go to college, how exactly they should be doing their jobs. Ironically enough, one of the markets I specialize in is - wait for it - education.
  • Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moogied (1175879) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @03:50PM (#36366548)
    College is a waste of time for anyone looking to go into the IT field. Programming? Its iffy honestly. Most places would hire someone with 5 years XP over some college kid with 1 year. So my choices are I could either just work in IT.. spend maybe 100k over my entire life on certs and renewals and make the same as a college kid... or I could go to college, leave with 200k in debt, still need the 100k for certs and renewals, and start 4-7 years after my competition... so.. uh... ya. College? Waste of money sometimes.
    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      try and get a job at Google with out a degree then
    • by vlm (69642)

      College is a waste of time for anyone looking to go into the IT field. Programming? Its iffy honestly. Most places would hire someone with 5 years XP over some college kid with 1 year. So my choices are I could either just work in IT.. spend maybe 100k over my entire life on certs and renewals and make the same as a college kid... or I could go to college, leave with 200k in debt, still need the 100k for certs and renewals, and start 4-7 years after my competition...

      Before the educational / tuition bubble really took off, my strategy was to use the then omni-present tuition reimbursement scheme at my employer(s) to pay for college.. Worked out well, except for being so far ahead of my class that I was bored silly. Graduated with basically no debt, in fact brokerage acct fulla money, new car, new house, etc. I don't think that's possible with current hyper-inflated tuition. And this was just a decade ago, not in the 50s or whatever.

      And that's with a real job ... to g

    • by theNAM666 (179776)

      >College is a waste of time for anyone looking to go into the IT field.

      Seriously?

      Why don't you walk over to Harvard, Stanford or MIT CS, and try that?

      If you're a dunce who will never rise above working for the Geek Squad, then College may be a bad idea because the college opportunities open to you are small-- and you'd do better working on your communications skills. But the reason you're stuck, is probably that you're a dunce, and think that the Geek Squad is "IT."

      The age of programmers who can

  • The rest of us are still expanding our skills, finding jobs, studying in school, and generally doing our thing. It's just really easy for it to look like the loudest represent us all. (This applies to more than just geekdom.)

  • Ignorance is bliss, they say...

  • Among the ignorant, of course there is anti-intellectualism: this is by nature. I think among the intelligent, however, there is a sentiment of antiestablishmentarianism.

    The two sentiments maybe coincide and so have a combined effect to erode the public faith in institutional education, but amoung geeks, the intelligent and the educated it's not anti-intellectualism.

    I am not unintelligent. Throughout school, however, I did terribly. This is not a new story.

    There is perhaps a growing feeling or perception that current education is mostly about memorization at the great expense of imagination. Imagination is creation. Memorization is indoctrination.
    • Did poorly, too, from junior high through college. Usually knew the material as well as the top two or three in the class though, at all levels. For some reason I have a huge amount of trouble motivating myself to do school work. No problem with work ethic in any other area. Very strange.

      My best guess is that I subconsciously categorize it as play, and since it's really boring and crappy play (not even any good for learning, as it's so slow), I don't want to do it. Can't figure out any other explanatio

  • Paradigm shift (Score:5, Interesting)

    by peacefinder (469349) <alan...dewitt@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @03:56PM (#36366660) Journal

    Don't confuse anti-academicism with anti-intellectualism. People are just as interested in learning as they ever were, but the monopoly on higher education held by the university system for the last couple centuries is crumbling in the face of the freer exchange of ideas offered by the internet.

    Universities are in the content delivery and certification business. They're suffering the same internet-related issues as other content delivery systems as other options become viable. (Khan Academy, anyone?) But worse for them, they've allowed their certification standards to steadily be weakened, while at the same time raising their prices far faster than inflation. Faced with paying ridiculous prices for weak degrees when free options abound, it's hardy surprising that many choose to opt out.

  • by Toonol (1057698) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @03:56PM (#36366666)
    The Peter Thiel-inspired claim that college is a waste of time is just the latest example.

    I think you should be concerning yourself about whether college may be showing signs of anti-intellectualism. I think you could make some strong arguments that it is, and that its importance and utility has diminished.
  • There's a difference between anti-intellectualism and anti-institutionalism.
  • Quotes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Synn (6288) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @03:57PM (#36366690)

    A few quotes by a few people doesn't make for a culture of Anti-Intellectualism. The change in how knowledge is acquired over the last 20 years has been beyond drastic. 20 years ago when I wanted to do a paper on super novas and pulsars I spent days in the library sorting through books. Today all that information, and more, is available to me in seconds.

    It's completely valid that this sort of change will shake up how humans deal with education and the transfer of knowledge. It's also good to be questioning the impact such systems have on us as a whole(such as how the super organic impacts knowledge when it's completely free flowing and popular opinions percolate to the top). Questioning old guard institutions and methods isn't Anti-Intellectualism, it's quite the opposite.

  • FTFY (Score:5, Informative)

    by TimHunter (174406) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @04:01PM (#36366768)

    'At the bottom of the slippery slope, you seem to be opposed to everything.'

    /. commenters, lacking knowledge substitute cynicism, lacking experience substitute pessimism, lacking wit substitute sarcasm, and lacking passion substitute indignation.

    • by Anthony (4077) *
      I heartily agree. Many Slashdot commenters are indistinguishable from Youtubers.
  • by northernfrights (1653323) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @04:28PM (#36367278)
    to manage to /. your own blog.
  • by starfishsystems (834319) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @05:36PM (#36368254) Homepage
    Oh yes, the "Internet geek" community. Is there a "new anti-intellectualism" amongst them?

    Considering that both of these terms are undefined and contentious, it should be no surprise to see a diverse, noisy spectrum of responses to the question. After all, who gets to say what sort of person qualifies as an "Internet geek"? At that rate, I suppose we might as well all have a crack at the definition. Is it anyone with a Facebook account? Or do you have to be a protocol designer? If the former, then we're really talking about a massive sampling of the whole human population, and there's no particular discussion to be had. If the latter, then I'd argue, as someone working in the profession, that it's the same highly-skilled elite as always, and that - of necessity - nothing has changed.

    Something has changed. It's more crowded now. When I got started in this profession, computer science was a new term for the sorts of inquiries being made by mathematicians and electrical engineers. To be a computer scientist was much like being a rocket scientist. Everything was exotic. A lot of the work was, perforce, purely an exercise of intellect. Anyone who had free access to computer time lived in a rare state of privilege. Today networked computing is absolutely prosaic, and comparisons with the old profession are essentially meaningless under any but, as noted above, a fairly elite definition of "Internet geek".

    That's what has changed. The once-exclusive hot tub has become infinitely more crowded. Well, but what does this tell us about a "new anti-intellectualism"? It tells us absolutely nothing that we didn't know before. In the limit, the average IQ of a population still converges, by definition, to 100. Such a population places no particular emphasis on intellect, since intellect is not its particular asset. That population of Internet practitioners is our reward for all the hard work of building the Internet. Most people don't appreciate what it means simply because they can't. It's not a question of hostility to intellectualism, it's just that it's no longer necessary for everyone to be an expert.

    Does this threaten the intellectual elite which brought the Internet into being? I can't see how. Of course, it can be frustrating at times to deal with ignorance disguised as superiority, but that's nothing new [dilbert.com]. We can go back further, to Aristotle and beyond, and find the very same thing.

Organic chemistry is the chemistry of carbon compounds. Biochemistry is the study of carbon compounds that crawl. -- Mike Adams

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