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North American Observation丨U.S. differentiation: anti-intellectual phenomenon is surging, breaking the bottom line of academic

On October 25, White House Chief of Staff Meadows said in an interview with CNN that the United States “will not control” the Coronavirus Pandemic because “the Coronavirus is like a flu virus.” Previously, Vice President Pence’s staff were diagnosed with the Coronavirus.

The virus, but, as the head of the White House’s response to the epidemic, Pence not only did not intend to self-isolate, but ignored the CDC’s epidemic prevention guidelines to continue his campaign. The words and deeds of high-ranking officials once again verified the non-scientific attitude of the U.S. government, and also highlighted a significant division of American society: the contradiction between science and anti-science is becoming more and more intense.

Why does the United States oppose science and knowledge to have a market, and “anti-intellectualism” can be a stately voice against scientific thought?

Some Americans’ “anti-scientific” attitude towards the epidemic arouses vigilance

“Anti-intellectualism” usually refers to opposition or suspicion of intelligence and knowledge, and suspicion and contempt for intellectuals. After this year’s Coronavirus, anti-intellectual and anti-scientific phenomena in the United States broke out, and it coincided with the political division in the United States. The latest poll from the Pew Center shows that 63% of Republican supporters believe that the Coronavirus is exaggerated, while only 14% of Democratic supporters believe that the epidemic is exaggerated (above). Even if Trump was diagnosed with Coronavirus Pandemic and the White House had an outbreak, he still failed to shake the views of most Republicans.

Among Trump’s supporters, the view that the epidemic is just a “large flu” is very common, and it is not uncommon to even regard the epidemic as a “scam.” The reason is inseparable from the words and deeds of politicians. As early as February, Trump claimed that “one day, the virus will miraculously disappear.” Conservative commentators echoed Trump’s statement, downplaying the impact of the virus and mocking epidemic prevention measures. The right-wing website “Red State” called Fauci, an infectious disease expert, a “mask Nazi.” Fauci suffered death threats and even hired personal bodyguards to protect himself and his family.

Ordinary people are “paced” by politicians, leading to endless ridiculous things. “Virus parties” have appeared from time to time across the United States, leading to concentrated infections many times. From mid-August to the end of September, the number of users who joined Facebook’s “anti-mask” group increased by 1,800%. Some people also believe that the iron wire in the mask is a 5G antenna, which is a conspiracy of the government.

The anti-intellectual phenomenon is so turbulent that it has broken through the bottom line of American academic circles. Many authoritative institutions have broken the tradition of not getting involved in politics and publicly criticized the American government.

On October 8, the New England Journal of Medicine expressed its views on American politics for the first time in 208 years since its inception, criticizing the US government for “incompetence in danger” and causing thousands of Americans to die from Coronavirus. In its editorial, Nature criticized the Trump administration for ignoring science, facts, and truth. The top academic institutions, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine, issued a statement on September 24, stating: “There are constant reports and incidents about the politicization of science, especially public health officials who ignore facts and expert advice, and laugh at the behavior of government scientists. It’s shocking.” 81 American Nobel Prize winners signed an open letter in support of Biden, stating: “Our country needs leaders to value the value of science in formulating public policies as never before.”

81 American Nobel Prize winners declared their support for Biden

The New York Times commented that looking back on the process of fighting the epidemic, the Trump administration has done almost everything wrong. “Trump’s mistake is partly because he led the deep anti-intellectual trend in the United States.”

The American Tradition of “Anti-intellectualism”

The United States has traditionally had “anti-intellectualism” soil, and the Coronavirus Pandemic has provided it with new impetus. In particular, the opposition between conservative and liberal public opinion has exacerbated the divergence of understanding between science and experts. A study by the University of Chicago found that watching Fox News host Sean Hannity’s show is associated with reducing social distancing. Therefore, watching the Fox News channel is likely to have a “fatal” impact on some fans.

One of the reasons why the force against science is so strong in this epidemic is that the US government “politicized” the epidemic, and “anti-intellectualism” objectively provided the soil for this force.

The American academic community believes that anti-science is not all the current problems.

An editorial in Nature pointed out that populism is on the rise. Populists divide the world into “popular” and “elite” categories. Researchers are also classified as “elite”, their knowledge and work are not trusted and despised. Not only that, “people such as Supreme Court justices, public officials, and journalists have also suffered similar attacks.”

The “intervention” of American academia in politics shows the urgency of breaking the cycle of “anti-intellectualism”. However, in the current US, the polarization between the rich and the poor is intensifying, the racial contradictions are sharp, and the political polarization has become a hotbed for the growth of “anti-intellectualism.” As David Niose, the former chairman of the American Humanist Association, commented: Economic insecurity and inequality in the United States are becoming more and more common, which breeds more fear and anxiety, and leads to the depreciation of critical thinking and rationality. The result is that “anti-intellectualism” has become a feature of society, and this has nothing to do with the individual’s intelligence level

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