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Topic: America’s Smug Elite Is Harming Our Kids

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America’s Smug Elite Is Harming Our Kids
« on: April 23, 2021, 04:06:25 AM »

America’s Smug Elite Is Harming Our Kids

This disdain for healthy skepticism, a normal part of functioning science and democracy, is corrosive to public trust and impedes the accumulation of knowledge. A climate of overconfidence makes it both more likely that we will adopt bad policy and harder to fix our missteps. Reversals of conventional wisdom are, for better or worse, inevitable in science. We have had many reversals of official positions on COVID-19—from the usefulness of masks to which medications work to guidance about school openings—and will likely see more as evidence continues to come in. The problem is that our current climate locks us into polarized mindsets, which makes it harder to recategorize “misinformation” that winds up being correct.

We’re frequently asked—especially by fellow elites—why we use the term “elite.” The moniker refers to university-credentialed experts in high-paying, usually urban-centric jobs, alongside the politicians and members of the media who enable them. Although the term has a long pedigree, it was repopularized by Christopher Lasch in his bestselling 1996 book The Revolt of the Elites, which criticized the belief system of America’s professional and managerial class. Many commentators increasingly link pathologies in our public sphere, including the populist backlash, to elites’ disconnection from the real experience of others. As philosopher Michael Sandel has argued in his recent takedown of meritocracy, elites exhibit relentless credentialism, embrace the argot of “smart versus dumb,” and have little time for the uninformed opinions of their fellow citizens. Sandel notes that elites misunderstand debates over facts and mischaracterize such arguments as a novel misinformation epidemic, as opposed to a longstanding feature of democratic debate. Increasingly, elites believe that all problems have technocratic solutions, and that they are uniquely qualified to identify them.

Worse, our patchwork of closures has not been tied to the local prevalence of the pandemic. These closures reflect polarized politics, not public health. Studies have repeatedly concluded that there was no relationship between reopening decisions and COVID-19 case counts. Instead, it appeared to be based on whether the locals were pro- or anti-Trump; schools in Democratic-leaning locations were more likely to close. Partly as a result, school closures also demonstrate a strong racial gap, with white students more likely to have the option of in-person schooling than Black or brown students. Meanwhile, nearly all private schools—95%, by one count—stayed open for in-person learning, compared with 40% for public schools in the fall. As others have noted, many of the most vocal advocates for school closures have in fact had their own children in private school all along, just one of the many ways elites bought their way out of pandemic restrictions.

Many opponents of reopening questioned the motives of those advocating it, rather than their actual arguments. Supporters of reopening were labeled “conservative,” or more commonly, “Trumpian,” an ad hominem attack that has a corrosive impact within the liberal orthodoxy of academia. Those who paid the price for this kind of self-righteous name-calling and politically driven accusation were children.

Some may reassure themselves that this is a temporary phenomenon, the result either of the high stakes drama of the pandemic, or a unique result of Trump’s presidency. Unfortunately, we think this is rooted in a much deeper syndrome: technocratic elites who disdain the public, and who believe their access to greater expertise entitles them to decide important issues themselves.

« Last Edit: April 23, 2021, 04:12:44 AM by HK_Vol »


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