I suspect that anybody who reads my entries regularly can guess that I like to poke around in places of intellectual high-hattery. Sites or publications with "New York", "Journal of", "Review of", and other telltale hoity-toitiness in their title are where I go to find something stimulating to wake me up in the morning.
The problem is that intellectuals can be complete idiots. :-`
My pet theory is that they've spent their whole lives being told, and telling themselves, that they're so smart because they can take tests well and have a pentasyllabic vocabulary , that they just sort of take it as read that any idea they have must be a good one, because how could such a smartypants come up with a stupid idea?
This is particularly bad in the realm of politics. My experience suggests that, politically speaking, the more one fits in with the intellectual set, the more likely their politics are to be an irrational collection of unchallenged assumptions, half-baked ideas, and inherited prejudices -- all held up as being not only correct, but enlightened and superior to the kind of stuff believed by everyday bumpkins.
Anyway, what's got me rambling on this particular subject this morning is that over the past few weeks, I keep coming upon more and more articles, usually of a political bent, that start with the phrase "As everyone knows..."
Such as, "As everyone knows, global warming will kill us all in less than a year," or "As everyone knows, more baby ducks have been killed in Iraq than have ever lived," or "As everyone knows, the Republicans are going to be swept out of power in the next election and dissipate forever shortly thereafter."
This irks the heck out of me. First of all, it's intellectually dishonest at best. When someone says to me, "as everyone knows," my immediate reaction is "O RLY? I bet that without breaking much of a sweat I could find you at least five people who 'know' the exact opposite, smart guy!" "As everyone knows" --as far as I can tell, anyhow-- is shorthand for "only Undesirable Nonpersons would dare question this assumption, and you don't want to be one of those do you?" Evidence? Who needs it? "Everyone knows" the assertion is true, after all. What are you, a bumpkin?
This is not a phenomenon unique to the left by any stretch, but because of my own particular interests and haunts it's lefties that I usually encounter doing it. That also irks me to no end, because by their own assertion of intellectual rigor and general not-bumpkinitude, they should know better. They should recognize "As everyone knows" for the rhetorical sneer it is and spurn it like you'd spurn a painful skin disease.
But, as I have commented before, politics make people stoopid. Find something generally considered beyond the pale (nun-beating or hamster-tossing, let's say) -- and those who practice it will be given a complete pass by half the population based on whether they have (R) or (D) after their name. Take the exact same behavior, flip the (R) or (D), and they'll be given a pass by the other half instead. It's crazy!