“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”
I think that’s a great quote, and it definitely rings true in our current state. Trump has encouraged the lack of knowledge and understanding and has instead cultivated a culture of fear-based ignorance that rejects any new information that challenges one’s current beliefs.
I’m definitely not saying that we shouldn’t listen to other people’s opinions or beliefs because we think we’re smarter than them, but I think it’s important to differentiate between an opinion based on facts and science and an opinion based on feelings, emotions and fear.
I’m also not advocating for voter suppression or counting votes differently, everyone still gets to vote and vote how they want. I’m just saying that people should be encouraged to actually research and resist emotional manipulation when forming an opinion. So many people just want to be told what to believe, and will take politicians and leaders at their word, even if it turns out to be wrong. That’s not a helpful mentality to have for a good democracy to work.
I think that the Information Age has a lot to do with it as well. Anti-intellectualism isn’t new, but with the internet and a world of knowledge at our fingertips, it has taken on a new form. People can research as much or as little about a subject as they want and form their own hard stances on issues. It’s good and it’s bad, people can find freedom and liberty from oppression and suppression of knowledge, but they can also choose to reject what experts say because they’ve read conspiracy theory blogs and believe that they know better. Everyone can have a voice now, which again, is good and bad. It lets people freely share their opinions and views, but also allows world-views that are hurtful and hateful, such as Neo-Nazism and white supremacy, to be equally represented. Now the line between free-speech and hate-speech is a qualm for a different article, so I won’t get into that right now!
It also discourages people from researching and learning more about a topic, giving them the false notion that once they’ve made their mind up because of a headline or meme on Facebook, they no longer need to dive deeper into a subject or topic because they already know everything that needs to be known!
Anyway, it’s frustrating that people refuse to accept or even consider new information that challenges their worldview. It’s a little bit off-topic, but how do you have an open-minded debate with someone who’s been told that they and they only know the truth about everything? It’s not possible to convince someone that they’re wrong if they believe that they’re always right because of their religion. I think that it needs to be made known that tradition and culture can change even if you don’t believe that the Bible can. I mean, Christians used to justify slavery by using the Bible, so obviously it can be twisted and misused. If everyone were open to the possibility that they could be wrong, the world would be a better place!