Intellectual arrogance divides

Intellectual arrogance divides

Riley Garland

During the 2016 election cycle, Trump made a habit of posing himself as the common man’s champion against what is commonly referred to as “the elite.” This group is seen as being composed of the rich, politicians, the media and academia. His election to office should make anyone concerned with societal cohesion realize the dangerous growing divide between these two classes of people.

One of the greatest contributors to this deep partition is academic arrogance. To offer definition, it is the self-perceived superiority many professors and other academics indulge. Universities are replete with these people, who are blinded by illusions of grandeur and sense of moral superiority.

This attitude is usually evident immediately to those they speak with, who usually end up captive to long monologues, while the arrogant enjoys the sound of his or her own voice. To be clear, most professors and academics do not suffer from this delusion. My own experience at Northern specifically has been overwhelmingly positive, with most professors very open-minded, genuine and down-to-earth. Only a select few fit the bill, which tend to be the most outspoken, as their confidence in their superiority is left unshaken.

It may be convenient for these intellectuals, looking at a world they believe has gone astray, to think average people are stupid or beneath them. They detest the masses, thinking themselves gifted with the intelligence to think in a capacity unknown to the common man. It’s true, in universities reside some of the most intelligent people on this planet. However, being intelligent is simply a trait, just like being artistic or creative or strong. It doesn’t offer superiority, or even innate usefulness.

The Simpsons’ comic book guy is a perfect portrayal of that which I’m describing. He’s completely useless with an IQ of about 200. Being intelligent does not make someone by default an attribute to society, and it certainly doesn’t make them superior to the average person. So quickly, these people forget that it is upon the labor of the masses that they are afforded the luxury of living a life brooding. They make their living thinking, while others strike iron. One produces ideas, the other produces steel. From one we get a book, from another a skyscraper. You tell me, who is superior? The one who can tell you where food comes from and describe our relationship to it, or the one who puts it on the table?

Lastly, intellectual capability and wisdom have no correlation. Those academics that believe they ought to dictate what is and isn’t, enjoy a moral superiority that is fictitious. Intelligent people have been responsible for both the best and worst of humanity. Several Nazi leaders possessed genius-level IQs, as psychological testing during the Nuremberg Trials proved. That very obviously didn’t correlate with a good moral compass by any standard.

My intent is not to put down academia, but instead propose a vision of the world where they do not enjoy the superiority some envision them in. If society is a car, politicians are the drivers, academics are the navigators and the masses are the engine. It’s only through unified belief in shared value that we drive the car forward. Until we recognize that our fate as a nation is bound together, we will continue to live in a world divided.