American Elephants

Intellectuals and Their Theories and The Problems They Cause: by The Elephant's Child

In  his new book, America Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture and Ushered in the Obamacrats), David Gelernter, professor of computer science at Yale, takes on the intellectuals in academia who have fallen in love with theory, and nearly destroyed, as a result, our colleges and universities, and the minds of our young people.

The opaque, smooth, soft, silken cobweb of theory spun by intellectuals reflects a deliberate choice.  The intelligentsia has repeatedly chosen not to know mere, concrete gritty facts.  It has chosen to be ignorant of what is actually happening in the world by picking its facts and news sources to avoid the slightest upset by picking its facts and news sources to avoid the slightest upset to elegant finished theories or tender and perhaps under developed intellectual organs.  Silken shrouds that hide messy details and sharp edges, and make big pictures invisible, are valuable to intellectuals and (so they believe) to their students.  An intellectual who teaches at a top college will have students who land fancy, influential jobs, and the ed school that is part of the university learns to teach masked history too, so it will be passed on faithfully.

Intellectuals invent theories and teach them to Airheads.  Airheads learn them and believe them.  In an intellectual’s classroom, some students become disciples —intellectuals in their own right. Some reject the whole nonsense and become realists. The vast middle group. Airheads-to-be, simply sunbathe and without making any special effort, absorb a great deal of radiant theoretical wisdom.

Intellectuals don’t think; they have already thought.  They have figured things out once and for all, and see the world through the delicate pink cotton candy of the theories they have spun. Airheads, on the other hand, never need to think at all.  Theories and doctrines are laid out for them, like clothing for a young child by a thoughtful mother.  They slip right into their nice neat clothes every morning and head forth to romp.  See how happy the president looks in his!

Just a little food for thought.  I’m really enjoying the book. If you wondered why you send your kids off to college, go broke in the process, and get back young people that you don’t recognize, here’s the answer.


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