Intellectual Bullies - They're Not Smarter Than You

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Intellectual Bullies – They’re Not Smarter Than You

            There is a law professor at Georgetown University who has actually been promoting the idea that we should do away with at least parts of the U.S. constitution.  (Does anyone else sense the irony of a law professor suggesting that we abandon the constitution?)  He has a whole list of reasons and historical examples to support his claim, but it’s still a stupid idea.  It’s got to have some merit, doesn’t it?  After all, the man is a professor, so he has to be intelligent.  Right?  He may be, but if intelligence is horsepower, common sense is traction. Every racer knows that all the horsepower in the world is useless, unless you can put that power to the ground, and this guy – he doesn’t appear to have the traction of a set of drag slicks in a snowstorm.
It’s bad enough when someone from the “Occupy Wherever” crowd spouts off such nonsense, but when someone that is supposed to have some credibility proposes something like this, at least two bad things happen:  1) People with big mouths and small brains latch on to the idea and repeat it.  2) People who know better are intimidated because an “expert” promoted the idea.
             Originally, I set out to debunk the professor’s idea, and refute each of his reasons, one by one.  It would be very easy to do.  I have chosen not to because other people have already done that, and the idea is so bad it will probably fade away into obscurity on its own.  Bad as it is, CBS still thought it was worthy of airtime.  I still think it’s worth mentioning, as an example of how bad ideas can become mainstream media stories.  If they get too much attention and not enough criticism, they can become planks in a campaign platform, and then, even worse, our government can enact them.  We’re watching that happen with health care right now.
 Many people, who instinctively know that the professor has a terrible idea, would have a hard time refuting others who parrot his claim. It’s not because they’re stupid.  Sometimes, things we take for granted can be hard to defend simply because you never dreamed that anyone would ever challenge them.  Sure, you could do some research and come up with a perfectly logical, factual argument to support your position, but at the spur of the moment, there’s not time for that.  Sometimes, people know exactly how to rebut a claim, but they fear confrontation and say nothing.  When either of these two things happens, the people making such outrageous statements can end up going unchallenged and winning arguments.
There’s a lot of talk about bullies these days.  Mention the word “bully”, and the classic playground bully usually comes to mind.  He’s the kid who has the reputation for being tough, whether he deserves it or not.  He usually will continue to torment his victims until someone stands up to him.  About the only good news for victims of bullies is, you don’t have to defeat them, you need only stand up to them.  The bully might win the fight, but he will have to fight, and since bullies like to pick the easiest target, he will usually move on to someone else.  Playground bullies in general, do not have a reputation for intelligence, so the process mentioned above, usually must be repeated many times before he learns not to treat others so poorly.
There are different types of bullies, but they all want to impose their will on other people through intimidation.  There are people out there that I refer to as “Intellectual Bullies”.  I’m sure you’re familiar with them.  They will often point out to you, their level of education.  You know, so just in case you didn’t already know that they are superior to you, that graduate’s degree they have will prove it, kind of like how a middle schooler might treat a sixth grader.  The only opinions that matter to them belong to people on their side, with the same level of formal education or higher, and these opinions are to be regarded as facts.  They always have plenty of these “facts” and figures to support their arguments, but don’t question any of it, or you will make them angry.  They feel entitled to win an argument by virtue of their extensive education, and one way or another, they will try to intimidate people who disagree with them.  Never mind if any of it makes any sense, they’re “more educated” than you. 
At this point, I’d like to remind everyone that intelligence, knowledge, and formal education are not interchangeable terms with identical meanings.  There are few things more offensive to me than someone who thinks that they are smarter than anyone who has less formal education than they do.  It implies that school is the only place anyone can learn anything.  This is ridiculous because at some point, everyone eventually finishes school, and what then?  Are you done learning for the rest of your life?  Of course not!  We continue to learn through out our entire lives. You never realize how dumb you were in your twenties until you reach your forties. 
I’m not disparaging education here.  Obviously our colleges and universities play an important role, especially in this high tech age we live in, but for the most part they provide educations related to specific fields.  A brain surgeon does not necessarily have any more expertise in economics for example, than a fireman. Even if someone has a degree in a certain subject, that doesn’t always mean that your opinion has no value compared to his or hers.  You may have relevant experience dealing with the subject. 
In college, you can write a paper presenting a theory that would never work in practice and still get an “A”.  In the real world, if you try something that can’t work, you get burned.  In which case do you think someone might learn a lesson with the most value?
OK, we all know that intellectual bullies aren’t smarter than us, but they’re still out there.  How do we deal with them?  Stand up to them!  Don’t let them get away with it!  Come to the defense of anyone being verbally assaulted by these a-holes!  If you’re not confident about your position on a particular issue, do a little research and get yourself prepared.  It’s not hard to do and doesn’t take long.  And remember, you don’t even have to win the argument, all you need to do is show these clowns a little resistance, they’re not used to that.
We’re never going to rid the world of intellectual bullies.  Many of them eventually figure out that education doesn’t end with college, and they finally learn to treat others with some respect, but a new crop of graduates always replaces them.  We just have to let them know that they’re not going to get away with any of their crap on our playground.

5 comments:

  1. How about supporting your thesis with some facts, instead of premising your argument with the claim that some professor somewhere says something about the "Constitution". I have a high school education with a further year at a community college and I find your reasoning peurile. Go ahead, intellectually bully me.

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    1. Do you realize that you are a perfect specimen that supports his hypothesis?

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  2. You have an excellent point. This was one of the first posts and I'll be the first one to admit that I was inexperienced and still have a lot to learn. There are however, plenty of articles to support what I said. Here's one
    http://www.policymic.com/articles/21779/louis-michael-seidman-georgetown-law-professor-give-up-on-the-constitution
    Had I written that post more recently, I would have had a link in my story. Even so, as you can see by reading my post, I was just mentioned it as an example to show what my theme was and went on to say that I was not going to concentrate on what he said in particular. The rest of what I said was drawn from my own life experiences.

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  3. Never think that you're wilier than a fox you see from your car.
    Education is your way to become a wilier monkey.
    Life is your way to learn to be an artist.

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