Friday, 5 December 2008

Education does produce elitism

The book "The Big Sort" is getting a reasonable amount of media attention. In the last week, I have listened to two good (and old) podcasts about it on Shire Network News, and another on Counterpoint. I'm thinking of adding it to my Amazon wish list. Even The Economist has run a story on it. It must be reasonably well known now, given that it is around 9,500 on the Amazon sales rank.

There is one thing that none of the print articles mention, but it popped out in one of the interviews on the podcasts (I forget which) - the more education you have, the less likely you are to associate with people that have differing views.

I guess this explains perfectly why academics can have such ridiculously lofty and out of touch ideas - you'd think that a University would be a melting pot of ideas, but it seems that academics might have sought out the type of university that suits their world view, and then used that institution to block out any unwanted thoughts. The walls around our sandstone universities are not there to keep the students in - they are there to keep the conservative barbarians and their nasty ideas out.

It is not so easy for blue collar workers to live and work in a world where they can block out all contrary thoughts. I guess this is why Howard was able to swing the "battlers" behind him over several elections, but was never able to convert a single leftie academic to his side. Leftie academics exist in a self-perpetuatings, self-reinforcing sound reflecting thought bubble. They have the power to exclude what they don't like.

Blue collar workers don't have that luxury. They have to take work where they can get it, which exposes them to a huge range of influences. Take this example...

We got our carpet steam cleaned this week (having three boys does nasty things to floor coverings). Two rough looking bods turned up to do the job - they had the look of someone that found an occasional spell in gaol to be a normal hazard of life. But they did a marvelous job, and spent some time chatting about our custom built lounge suite - they thought it must be an antique, as no one is getting them made like that any more.

I figured afterwards that if they do 2 or 3 houses per day, they must see an incredible variety of furnishings, living standards, family arrangements, decore and so on, and if they get a chance to chat with the residents, then they'd be exposed to a huge range of views, experiences, thoughts and ravings.

Kind of like taxi drivers. Except that these guys didn't smell, weren't lost and they spoke excellent English. And they didn't try and drive their shampoo machine from one room to the other via Bondi.

I found the whole talk of the Big Sort to be interesting, because although I am a conservative, I like living in areas that are bohemian (because the coffee and bookstores are better) and I have no problems associating with lefties. Please don't fall off your chair at this point, but if I ever get back to Cairns, I am going to look Bryla up and have a beer with him. He sounds like a really interesting bloke, and I like the cut of his jib.

That aside, I am starting to think that the Khmer Rouge had the right idea when they took all the intellectuals out of the cities and put them to work in the rice fields, either as slaves or fertiliser. The commies have long known who the most blinkered and dangerously single-minded idiots are, and they always make sure they are the first against the wall when the revolution comes. It fascinates me that so many intellectuals are in love with the same leftist ideology that would result in them all being shot if people of that ilk actually got into power.

Education - it produces elitism, and stupidity. Possibly in equal measures.


1735099 said...

"Education - it produces elitism, and stupidity. Possibly in equal measures."

After being involved in it for the last 40 years, I think you've over generalized somewhat. If you're correct, I've obviously wasted a lot of time and energy.

What's your definition of "education"?

Boy on a bike said...

Dad and I are the least educated in our family, with basic Bachelor's degree from a "proper" pre-Dawkins university (I am a University snob). Brother and Mum have Masters degrees. Masters are reasonably common amongst my associates. I only know of one PhD in my wider circle, and only one contemporary has become a professor. Sorry, two. And a pro-vice chancellor at that.

That said, only one of those degrees is an Arts degree. The rest are in the "hard" subjects. None reside in ivory towers, and although many of them are conservative, none swims solely in a sea of fellow conservatives.

One of the professors, who came from quite a conservative background, ended up teaching in San Francisco, and living in Haight Ashbury of all places! The opposite of what you would expect from the Big Sort.

I would suggest that if you are reading my blog, you have not isolated yourself in an echo chamber!