Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Anti-Intellectualism is Stupid

Anti-Intellectualism quote of the day (in response to my question, "Do you think all experience is equal: That the mailman who walks through a poor neighborhood and the social worker who has researched and studied poverty and worked as a case manager directly with the poor are equally informed as to the causes and effects of poverty in the lives of the poor? Or do you make room for the notion that people who actually work for years in a field might possibly be better-informed on the topic?...")

Social workers are trained to give people the benefit of the doubt and in my experience do so to the point of overlooking the obvious. They tend to make excuses for people because they’re trying to help. So no, I don’t generally trust social workers’ experiences. Look at all the kids they leave with negligent parents, yet try to remove kids from homes where parents let them walk to school for a block or two in safe neighborhoods. 

[Courtesy of John at the ironically named, Sifting Reality blog, although the attitude is not unique to him, so I'm talking about the comment, not the person...]

There is such an arrogance and wholly uninformed presumption and ignorance in that statement, that one hardly knows how to respond. Why are people like this? Have they been burned by, in this case, what the feel is a bad social worker so they project that hurt feeling out on to all social workers? And does this  person feel the same way about other professionals? Water quality experts? Car mechanics? Psychologists? Where does this ignorant hostility end?

Lord help us.


Dan Trabue said...

Another of the friends weighed in with this comment...

"I have had too much experience with Trabue’s so-called “professionals” They all adhere to secular psychological methods and, as John pointed out, do much more harm than good."

And there you go.

You wonder what sort of hurt and confusion led to this sort of bitterness and arrogance. Or is it just the presumption of them truly just believing they know best in all things?

Marshall Art said...

One needn't be a professional one's self in order to perceive failure on the part of those professionals in question. I don't need the skill of a physician in order to see that a given physician's record of success is poor. I don't need to be a pro-football coach to see a team running plays that don't make sense. If I see a business fail, I don't need to know how to run a business to know that THAT guy doesn't, either.

The idea that someone rendering an opinion from the sidelines is merely "anti-intellectual" without addressing his actual argument suggests more of a problem on your end. Your support for the social worker is biased, to say the least. Just as one can research successes of social workers, one can do so with regards to failures.

And biased you are given your own involvement and that of your wife's. Such is quite understandable, as one always prefers to believe one is succeeding or competent in one's endeavors. And I doubt any of your blogging adversaries would not commend your efforts. But whether or not your efforts are doing much good is indeed worthy of scrutiny and given your comments, justifiably doubtful.

As I mentioned at that post, you recently, in another post, listed a variety of reasons for being impoverished. I went down point by point, and with one, maybe two exceptions, showed how each was truly a consequence of the choices made by the "victim" of poverty. You didn't even respond to that. As you can't seem to consider the true cause of how one might fall into economic hardship, it is not to far a stretch to suppose your notion of the value of social work is unrealistic. Then to write it off as "anti-intellectualism" is rank defensiveness at best.

Craig said...

Just for grins, I decided to look up intellectualism. To see of if was stupid in reality or not. Here's what I found

1.devotion to intellectual pursuits.
2.the exercise of the intellect.

So far so good seems reasonable. I'm not really sure I know anyone who is against either of the above.

3.excessive emphasis on abstract or intellectual matters, especially with a lack of proper consideration for emotions.

Now, this one get's a little more dicey for me, I'd suggest that anything to excess could be classified as stupid. I'd definitely say that it is stupid to give proper consideration for emotions.

4.Philosophy. The doctrine that knowledge is wholly or chiefly derived from pure reason. The belief that reason is the final principle of reality.

As a Christian, this one really does strike me as stupid. It seems to show a worldview that is completely centered around human experience and reason. Seems stupid to me to put all your faith in human reason.

So, I guess I'd kind of agree that intellectualism is kind of stupid.

Dan Trabue said...


The idea that someone rendering an opinion from the sidelines is merely "anti-intellectual" without addressing his actual argument suggests more of a problem on your end.

John was not taking issue with the opinion of one professional. He offered a WHOLLY unsupported claim that social workers, as a rule, "tend to make excuses" and that he "generally does not trust social workers' experiences..."

Based on what?

He has not said other than just his random opinion based on swamp gas and little else. Bring me some research data that has scientifically looked into the class "social workers" and THEN we can talk. In the meantime, making a sweeping generalization about people who are trained and experienced is just stupid, baseless, irrational anti-intellectualism.

Craig, look at what I'm speaking specifically about. DO you think it's rational to make sweeping generalizations about a whole class of professionals with ZERO support?

Do you think Glenn's continued denial of the whole genre of "mental health" professionals is rational?

Of course it's not.

Dan Trabue said...


Just as one can research successes of social workers, one can do so with regards to failures.

Never once have I suggested that all professionals - whether it is social workers, plumbers, therapists, or electricians - are perfect or that any individual is above question. I'm saying that those who claim that "mental health" does not exist and thus, all mental health workers are bogus, or that nearly all social workers are generally untrustworthy, or that NASA scientists conspired to fake a moon landing... that those people are behaving irrationally.

John and Glenn are not saying "Some minority of these professional groups - therapists, psychologists, social workers, etc - are bad apples..." They are making sweeping claims - WHOLLY unsupported - about the whole class of professionals.

Craig, Marshall:

DO you or do you not agree that this is irrational?

This question is the price to continue conversation here. Saying, 'No, it's not irrational' exposes your own irrationality and there is no point in my talking further with you.

Craig said...

"DO you think it's rational to make sweeping generalizations about a whole class of professionals with ZERO support?"

I guess I'd want to actually look at what was said in context before agreeing to a sweeping generalization.

"Do you think Glenn's continued denial of the whole genre of "mental health" professionals is rational?"

I'm not going to make judgements about whether someone is rational or not based on a blog comment thread, you can feel free to, but I'd rather not.

While I don't agree with Glenn's attitude, he's cited several sources who might provide some more credibility. Since this is your issue not mine, I'd suggest that you take a look at the sources he cites and rebut them if necessary. I did read a few comments on this and I'm pretty sure that he didn't deny the whole genre of "mental health" professionals. Again, I'm not an expert, I really don;t care that much, but I'd be wary of making sweeping generalizations.

Marshall Art said...

"This question is the price to continue conversation here."

Perhaps this is why I haven't seen you at my blog recently? You don't want to pay the price? You certainly don't pay it in full anywhere I've seen.

"Saying, 'No, it's not irrational' exposes your own irrationality..."

No, it doesn't. It proves yours, as you insist on a response pleasing to you rather than dealing with the response on its merits.

So I will answer your question in full and wait for you to reject it as insufficient regardless of what I say.

In Glenn's case, he most certainly provided support for his contention that psychotherapy was a questionable field of practice. He clearly differentiated between studies of the brain and studies of the mind. His point that the mind is not a tangible thing that can be sick and thus healed is not irrational in the least. In that thread, he cited at least one source for his opinion and that author was from within the field. Somehow, you do not give that author any consideration despite his qualifying by your criteria of being trained and experienced.

In John's case, you have a bit more of an argument, with this caveat: you are still pitting your experiences against his as if your anecdotes have more value simply because they are yours. Your personal immersion does not truly give you more validity, as you are thus biased. It is no different than the "gay" parenting studies that relied on the testimonies of "gay" parents. One is not likely to hear bad reports about a field of endeavor from those who favor that field. In that regard, I consider Glenn's source as more likely to be accurate, as it is self-critical. At least John speaks from the position of a total observer and not a participant.

Sweeping judgements about ANYTHING is not the most rational, pro or con. But I don't know that saying so matters, as I don't think either one makes those types of statements completely without qualification.