Quotations about   anti-intellectualism

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To rebel against a powerful political, economic, religious, or social establishment is very dangerous and very few people do it, except, perhaps, as part of a mob. To rebel against the “scientific” establishment, however, is the easiest thing in the world, and anyone can do it and feel enormously brave, without risking as much as a hangnail. Thus, the vast majority, who believe in astrology and think that the planets have nothing better to do than form a code that will tell them whether tomorrow is a good day to close a business deal or not, become all the more excited and enthusiastic about the bilge when a group of astronomers denounces it.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
(Attributed)
Added on 19-Apr-16 | Last updated 19-Apr-16
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You know I’ve noticed a certain anti-intellectualism going around this country ever since around 1980, coincidentally enough. I was in Nashville, Tennessee last weekend and after the show I went to a Waffle House, and I’m sitting there and I’m eating and reading a book. I don’t know anybody, I’m alone, I’m eating and I’m reading a book. This waitress comes over to me (mocks chewing gum) “What you readin’ for?” Wow, I’ve never been asked that; not “What am I reading,” “What am I reading for?” Well, goddammit, you stumped me. I guess I read for a lot of reasons — the main one is so I don’t end up being a fuckin’ waffle waitress. Yeah, that would be pretty high on the list. Then this trucker in the booth next to me gets up, stands over me and says [mocks Southern drawl] “Well, looks like we got ourselves a readah.” What the fuck’s going on? It’s like I walked into a Klan rally in a Boy George costume or something. Am I stepping out of some intellectual closet here? I read, there I said it. I feel better.

Bill Hicks (1961-1994) American stand-up comedian, social critic, satirist, musician [William Melvin "Bill" Hicks]
Sane Man (1989)
Added on 20-Feb-15 | Last updated 20-Feb-15
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There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. 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.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
“A Cult of Ignorance,” Newsweek (21 Jan 1980)
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More on this quotation here and here.
Added on 31-Dec-12 | Last updated 18-Dec-19
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Beating up “intellectuals” is the last refuge of demagogues.

Anthony Lewis (1927-2013) American journalist, political critic, intellectual, writer
“The Czar’s New Clothes,” New York Times (14 Dec 1989)

After Johnson.
Added on 25-Jul-12 | Last updated 21-Jun-16
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Democracy is the theory that intelligence is dangerous. It assumes that no idea can be safe until those who can’t understand it have approved it. It defines truth as anything which at least fifty-one men in every hundred believe. Thus it is firmly committed to the doctrines that one bath a week is enough, that “I seen” is the past tense of “I see,” and that Friday is an unlucky day.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
“Pertinent and Impertinent,” Smart Set (Jun 1913) [as Owen Hatteras]
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Added on 7-Sep-11 | Last updated 2-May-16
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It saddens me that literacy has become suspect, and degraded, given how many millions of years of evolution spent developing the ability to create language. The quality of our thoughts is bordered on all sides by our facility with language. The less precise the usage, the less clear the process of language, the less you can achieve what you want to achieve when you open you mouth to say something. We have slowly bastardized and degraded and weakened the language, abetted and abided by a growing cultural disdain for literacy, a cyclical trend toward anti-intellectualism.

J. Michael (Joe) Straczynski (b. 1954) American screenwriter, producer, author [a/k/a "JMS"]
rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated, “ATTN JMS: Influences?” (27 Oct 1995)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Jul-20
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