Elitism is the attitude or belief that some individuals, by virtue of wealth, intellect, or training are superior to others
Elitism or Arrogance
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Lately it seems as if conservatives have been barraged by insults. Think that climate change may be natural, you are labeled a denier. Concerned about the record-breaking deficit, you are a tea bagger or a statist. Don’t want a mosque built near the site Islamic terrorists killed over 3000 Americans, you are a racist. Think that the current administration is taking the country too far to the left, there’s that racist charge again.
As opposed to focusing on what is being said, let’s look at who are saying these things. These comments come from a select group of climate scientists, or mainstream media commentators and politicians. What each of these groups have in common is that they seem to think of themselves as elite.
Elitism is the attitude or belief that some individuals, by virtue of wealth, intellect, or training are superior to others. Elitists can be found everywhere but are most commonly seen in upper management, Hollywood, academia, the media, and the halls of government. The principal difference between an elitist and an expert is that experts are recognized by others for their skill or training whereas elitists see themselves as superior.
Elitists are typically agenda driven; they see themselves as fighting for a noble cause. As such, elitists tend to view themselves as individuals who are benevolently working for the good of mankind (or for some elitist groups, womankind).
This self-recognition and nobility of cause gives elitists a smug self assurance in their ideas. So much so that they believe that their opinions and ideas carry as much or more significance than hard evidence. This is best illustrated by how the elitists of climate science advanced the idea of anthropogenic global warming (for a thorough history and understanding of the global warming movement, see the many excellent articles by climatologist and environmental scientist Dr. Tim Ball). These climate elitists hold a belief that human activity caused a warming of the climate. As elitists, their belief is more significant than the large amount of data that conflicted with that belief. So, they ignored, or altered the data as needed to fit their belief.
Once the considerable intellect of the elitist has rendered an opinion or an interpretation, that opinion or interpretation must be right. As such, elitists tend to remain inflexible to new information or data. They are afraid that should they change their opinion, then they would have revealed that they are not infallible, which in turn would put their status as an elite at risk. For an elitist it is better to be always right than possibly wrong.
Cerebral narcissism and smug self assurance
The cerebral narcissism and smug self assurance that are the hallmarks of elitism causes elitists to look upon those not considered elite with disdain. This isolates elitists into small groups of like-thinking members. This self-imposed isolation, results in a loss of diversity in their thinking. Just as a lack of diversity in isolated gene pools results in genetic deformities, the lack of diversity of thought in isolated intellectual thought pools results in deformed ideas. This form of group think is nothing more than intellectual inbreeding.
The sense of nobility that elitists feel for themselves combined with the disdain they have for the intellectually inferior leads those individuals or groups that consider themselves to be elite to grant themselves extra privileges. Like nobility of old, they are above their proclamations. So when government elites tell you that paying taxes is patriotic, they exclude themselves from that obligation. When environmental elitists tell you to change your lifestyle, they do not need to do so themselves. Their do as I say not as I do mentality is one of the privileges that they see themselves as entitled to. In reality, it makes them hypocrites.
Elitists see themselves as intellectual nobility looking out for the welfare of the peasant class. However, unlike the peasant class of old, today’s ‘peasants’ are generally well-educated. Moreover, the ascendancy of the internet has allowed the masses to avail themselves of enough information to form their own opinions. If the masses are able to make well informed and intelligent decisions themselves, the elitists are no longer needed.
As the elitists find themselves teetering on the precipice of irrelevancy, they have become defensive. Interestingly, the nature of that defense is similar for all elitist groups, whether they are climate scientists, journoListers, politicians, or mosqueteers.
Since elitist positions are generally not based on analysis and interpretation of data, elitists cannot rely on logic or science to argue their point.. They rely instead in a progressive pattern when confronting challenges. Each step of the progression moves elitists farther and farther away from the professionalism that they believe they adhere to.
The first line of defense that elitists use when the masses do not accept their opinions or positions is to assume that we were simply not smart enough to understand them. Therefore, they hope to win us over by explaining their position or opinion better. In other words, they patronize us.
The second line of defense for elitists is to appeal to you to accept their brilliance. As part of that defense, elitists typically call on consensus. We, a group of really smart people have agreed on this opinion. Since you are not smart enough to grasp the issue, you should trust us. After all, we are looking out for you.
ad hominem attacks
The third line of defense is to engage in ad hominem attacks. Those who challenge elitists are stupid, or racist, or deniers. Interestingly, these ad hominem attacks are not necessarily intended to be mean spirited. They simply reflect the disdain that elitists have for others. Since you failed to accept their viewpoint after they patiently tried to explain it and pointed out that there is a consensus, then it is your thinking that must be flawed. Since they will not inter-mix with the “peasant class”, it is inconceivable to the elitist that you may actually have a valid and informed opinion.
That said, by attacking the character or reputation of those individuals who dare to pose a challenge, elitists do two things. First they weaken the credibility of their challengers, implying that their challengers are not worthy of your trust. Secondly, by posing a threat to peoples credibility, they hope to silence those who would challenge them, no matter how valid the challenge. The latest bizarre twist in ad hominem attacks is to accuse your challengers of being elitist.
If appeals to our reason and ad hominem attacks fail to dissuade those who challenge elitists, then the next line of defense is to threaten the challengers. These threats can be include firing, boycotts, calls for investigations (Here and here) and death threats. Unfortunately these threatening actions are often effective in suppressing challenges. They also show how incredibly weak and insecure elitists really are.
The final line of defense is to call for civil disobedience. The most infamous example of elitists calling for civil disobedience is that of Al Gore and Dr. James Hansen. Both have called on people to engage in civil disobedience in their fight against global warming . At a number of Townhall meetings and Tea Party rallies, participants have been assaulted by thugs. Although these thugs are not elitists, they are tools used by elitists to discourage these groups. So in addition to being weak and insecure, most elitists, when unable to stand up to challengers, resort to bullying by proxy.
We can see that elitists are not experts, they are simply individuals or groups of individuals who see themselves as superior. That superiority breeds disdain for those not a member of the elite group. That in turn results in intellectual inbreeding; a process that leads to defects in logic and rationale. When that superiority is challenged, they respond in a generally well defined pattern of progressively less professional steps. This behavior betrays them for what they actually are, weak and insecure. A fact they hide not with intelligence or intellectual prowess but by arrogance. “The only thing more dangerous than ignorance is arrogance” (Albert Einstein).
So here is the good news. This barrage of insults and ad hominem attacks has revealed these elitists to be nothing more than empty suits; legends in their own mind, and arrogant legends at that. Since their viewpoints cannot stand the test of logic, then their viewpoints need not be respected. Nor do we need to fear their ad hominem attacks. When a climate scientist calls me a denier, or a columnist from the New York Times or the Washington Post calls me a racist, I can wear the terms with pride. Not because I am a denier or a racist, but because I know that for those individuals, calling me a name is a sign of how desperate they are. It is a sign that they are one step closer to becoming irrelevant.