18 Jun 2018

The Arrogance of the Ill-Educated Elite

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Joseph Pearce responds with understandable frustration to the chief problem of our time: the combination of arrogance with lack of real education.

Recently, sitting in traffic, I saw this .. bumper sticker on the car in front of me… which declared the following: “What you call the Liberal Elite, we call being well-educated.” …

Clearly designed to offend other motorists, it is supremely supercilious and extremely arrogant. We, the average Joe, whoever we may be, are not as “well-educated” as the royal “we” driving the car in front of us. This pompous “we,” who is presumably a she, presumes that anyone who disagrees with her is poorly educated, whereas she, of course, is well-educated. If we were as well-educated as she, we would agree with her.

To be fair to her, she is basing her presumption on data that shows that those who are “well-educated” tend to vote for the Democrats whereas those who are less “educated” tend to vote Republican. She votes Democrat because she is well-educated. We, who are presumed to be Republicans (because we are presumed to be stupid), complain that those who are better educated than us (and are therefore better than us) are part of an elite.

The problem is that her education is not as good as she thinks it is. …

If she was educated in our secular system, she will know nothing of philosophy, or, if she does, she will believe that there was no philosophy worth taking seriously before René Descartes. She will know nothing of the philosophy of the Greeks, of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and still less of the great Christian philosophers, such as Augustine or Aquinas. Insofar as she’s even heard of these people, she will presume that they did not know what they were talking about: “What the ancient philosophers call error, we call being well-educated.”

If she was educated in our secular system, she will know nothing of history, or, if she does, she will know it only from her own twenty-first century perspective, or from the twenty-first century perspective of those who taught it to her. History is not about learning from the people of the past, their triumphs and their mistakes, but is about sitting in judgment on the stupidity of our ancestors, who are presumed to be unenlightened, or at least not as enlightened as she is or her teachers are. “What the people of the past believed to be immoral, we call being well-educated.”

If she was educated in our secular system, she will know nothing of great literature, or, if she does, she will have misread it from the perspective of her own twenty-first century pride and prejudice, or from the proud and prejudiced twenty-first century perspective of those who taught her. She would not think of trying to read the great authors of the past through their own eyes because, living in the past, such authors lack the sense and sensibility which she has.


The usual argument over free enterprise versus the regulatory administrative state economy erupted over the weekend on my Yale class list. The usual three classmates who’d operated businesses defended freedom against the larger group of lefties who’d spent careers in academia.

The left-wing arguments were, as usual, actually embarrassing expressions of relativism combined with glib attempts to deflect substantive points by simple word-play. Reading the leftists’ efforts at debate, it is impossible to avoid noticing that what they really believe in is the absolute reliability of the consensus opinion of the community of fashion. The common culture of the establishment elite cannot possibly be wrong.

They fail to recognize at all just how dramatically that consensus has changed, even within their own adult lifetimes, because the accepted narrative is everything, History and Reality are nothing.

Their Cliff-Notes-based education has merely trained these people in the skillful manipulation of numbers, symbols, and ideas. Each of them is, of course, competent, even excellent, in some professional specialty, but if the gods of fashionable opinion decreed that college professors should go around barking like dogs, our universities would sound exactly like hunt kennels. They could be persuaded to accept anything, and they view with bitter hatred and disdainful contempt anyone daring to dissent.

4 Feedbacks on "The Arrogance of the Ill-Educated Elite"

A. Squaretail

For several years, I have been making the point that many who are considered intelligent because of the academic success are, in fact, well-trained rather than well-educated. President Obama is just one example. To me, the educated are able to adjust to changing circumstances, able to adjust as their premises are proven wrong or inapplicable. I’m not saying that they have to agree with me, just that their analysis and actions should change when they experience failure. Too many of today’s elite have learned their beliefs by rote in order to satisfy their professors. Therefore, the can’t think for themselves when their memorized ideology fails or, worse, isn’t applicable to the realities they face. Even if they have high IQ’s, they are the equivalent of American muscle cars – they can’t handle the curves. If you are a politician or other leader who can’t handle the curves, you are of no use to anyone.

Seattle Sam

Liberals truly believe that because they are smarter than the average person, the decisions they make are likely to be better than the judgment of millions of lesser individuals acting independently. Besides being arrogant, this is simply false. No matter how wise the group of Wise Men are, they will be unable to consistently outperform the “market”. It is why, for instance, investment managers (arguably extremely smart people) can seldom outperform passive indexed investments. It is why when the Wise Men decide that low skilled labor is worth $15/hour, that fewer of those people are employed. It is why Wise Men who decided that more people should own homes with mortgages they couldn’t afford precipitated a colossal level of defaults. It is why the two industries that are most controlled by the Wise Men of government (health care and education) have the highest rates of price increases.

JK Brown

Well-credentialed maybe, but education is not dependent upon the number of magic parchment written upon in Latin on the wall. Education cannot be given or provided. Educated is a state you achieve. Schooling can give one a glimpse of the path to becoming educated, but the journey is one that must be taken without shortcuts or being dragged along.

The passage below likens the university to an intellectual hothouse where minds are forced to bloom early and grow stronger before facing the cruel world. Sadly, today the universities seem to be producing hothouse flowers that collapse when outside the glass.

“The idea is, of course, that men are successful because they have gone to college. No idea was ever more absurd. No man is successful because he has managed to pass a certain number of courses and has received a sheepskin which tells the world in Latin, that neither the world nor the graduate can read, that he has successfully completed the work required. If the man is successful, it is because he has the qualities for success in him; the college “education” has merely, speaking in terms’ of horticulture, forced those qualities and given him certain intellectual tools with which to work—tools which he could have got without going to college, but not nearly so quickly. So far as anything practical is concerned, a college is simply an intellectual hothouse. For four years the mind of the undergraduate is put “under glass,” and a very warm and constant sunshine is poured down upon it. The result is, of course, that his mind blooms earlier than it would in the much cooler intellectual atmosphere of the business world.”

Marks, Percy, “Under Glass”, Scribner’s Magazine Vol 73, 1923, p 47



I don’t even consider Obama to be well trained. Have you ever heard him speak without a teleprompter?

What is missing in this discussion is:
Education and intelligence is not the same and either one can at times be a huge asset or a liability. As JFK once said “why are the experts always wrong?”

But more importantly, I believe, is that much in human life is intuitive and built into us. A baby can sense danger or a change in an adults mood. A toddler can read your face and your body language. This natural ability grows/improves with experience while simultaneously getting stale with lack of interest. That is in a safe world where 100% of your needs are provided and the biggest risk in life is mitigated by seat belts we start to ignore our innate abilities. But we have them and so it is a mistake to judge a person or their statements based solely on education or perceived intelligence. Very intelligent people often are wrong and apparently common people can be 100% right. Look past the social labels and diplomas and shed your biases.


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