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Is There a New Geek Anti-Intellectualism?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the but-the-greeks-were-great-philosophers dept.

Books 949

Larry Sanger writes "Geeks are supposed to be, if anything, intellectual. But it recently occurred to me that a lot of Internet geeks and digerati have sounded many puzzlingly anti-intellectual notes over the past decade, and especially lately. The Peter Thiel-inspired claim that college is a waste of time is just the latest example. I have encountered (and argued against) five common opinions, widely held by geeks, that seem headed down a slippery slope. J'accuse: 'At the bottom of the slippery slope, you seem to be opposed to knowledge wherever it occurs, in books, in experts, in institutions, even in your own mind.' So, am I right? Is there a new geek anti-intellectualism?"

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Frist Psot (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366430)

Frosty piss y'all!

There is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366438)

but it ain't new...

False Premmise (5, Insightful)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366450)

Geeks are supposed to be, if anything, intellectual

I disagree, geeks should be doers. They should make things, be it overly detailed costumes, or new pieces of electronics. I don't think the hacker ethic is about intellectualism, it's about doing. The intellectual part is a side-effect, and a helper, but it is not a requirement. Maybe I'm wrong to refer to hot-rodders as car geeks though.

Re:False Premmise (2)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366602)

Agree completely. My graduate education was almost completely liberal arts, I only had a token EE class as an undergrad (CS major) and I still spend a ton of time with my soldering iron. I consider myself a geek, although I play city-league basketball and don't live in my parent's basement so maybe I'm a hybrid. I guess the point of my rambling is that the need to create is what defines me as a geek, not any pseudo-intellectual ivory tower nonsense.

Re:False Premmise (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366604)

You are confusing geeks with hackers. Hackers yes, are doers.

Re:False Premmise (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366624)

Exactly, what makes you a geek is a single-minded passion, not any level of intelligence or intellectual capacity or drive. An Otaku for instance, doesn't have to be the brightest bulb in the bunch, but damn if they don't know that in episode X Bob did Y at time 3:24 and why it's important to the story.

Re:False Premmise (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366648)

geek as a term just shows a lack of understanding. The US education system in general is mostly a joke and ridiculously overpriced with standards beyond low. No child left behind etc just made it substantially worse.

Re:False Premmise (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366710)

Jeri Ellsworth: highschool dropout, race car builder, race car driver, FPGA designer, builder of transistors from scratch.

School does not promote intellectualism, school is rote training. Anyone who loves learning does it in spite of school.

Re:False Premmise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366740)

As my personal definition of geek, I've always considered geeks to be like those that you describe...they have some hobby or puzzle or game that they obsess over, not necessarily with understanding or in depth knowledge, just passion (most "makers" I've meet). My definition of nerd is more of an intellectual geek. They also have their obsessions, but it almost always involves more understanding and almost always consists of some complex system(s). All of the people I considered nerds ended up being engineers, or at least paid a lot more.

college != intellectual (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366452)

I went to big state school, and it didn't make me more intellectual. Most of my classmates were just ordinary people trying to get degrees so they could get good jobs. If any of them were intellectuals, they were that way before they went to school.

Okay (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366454)

I dunno? Is there a new geek anti-intellectualism? You tell me Larry.

Oh on your blog? Okay. Here I go then.


Fuck you Larry.

First post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366456)

Cause I didn't go to college and so got here 4 years before everyone else.

Re:First post (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366588)

Cause I didn't go to college and so got here 4 years before everyone else.

Well, maybe if you had been to college you would have learned how to really get first post. :-)

Silent Majority (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366458)

It isn't new, you just started paying attention.

Not anti-intellectualism (3, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366462)

The "college is a waste of time" thing is purely economic advice, nothing anti-intellectual about it.

Tagging article "troll."

Re:Not anti-intellectualism (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366500)

Arguably, treating college as 'purely economic' is the anti-intellectual part(or a sign that you experienced a shitty school...)

Re:Not anti-intellectualism (5, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366564)

Oh jeez not the "go to college to become a better rounded person" argument. College costs as much as a mid-range to high-end sports car. Lower and middle-class people don't have the luxury of going to college for the pleasure of learning. There must be a return on such a significant investment. It's that simple, it has nothing to do with anti-intellectualism.

Re:Not anti-intellectualism (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366772)

The pleasure of learning is the return on investment. Knowledge is its own reward, not just a tool for prosperity.

Re:Not anti-intellectualism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366798)

Indeed. I was shocked to learn recently that a bachelors degree at a high end university (such as NYU or Columbia) can cost around 150k these days. Yes, your chances of getting a better paying job afterwards are better---but 150k is still quite a bit.

Re:Not anti-intellectualism (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366608)

Arguably, treating college as 'purely economic' is the anti-intellectual part(or a sign that you experienced a shitty school...)

Probably in his lower 20s, due to the educational bubble... Youngsters now a days need to take a lifetime vow of poverty if they go to college, very much like the only way to get an education in the middle ages was to take a vow of poverty and enter the monastery. Not much has changed in CS since then, not the money or the dating life. I think back on how much I learned post-college, which in part required me to spend money the youngsters will never have, due to $200K student loans...

Re:Not anti-intellectualism (1)

hsjserver (1826682) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366756)

It's more like you have a guarantee to be impoverished if you don't go, and are less likely to be impoverished if you do go. Speaking as someone who doesn't quite have their degree yet, and can't even get an interview for a job, I shudder to think what life would be like for those that are content to deal with the job market with a High School diploma. Not that you can't be successful, just it's incredibly unlikely. At least that stupid bachelors degree gives me a leg up over them, or ought to when it's done.

Re:Not anti-intellectualism (4, Insightful)

JeffSh (71237) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366516)

In order for the statement "college is a waste of time" to be anti-intellectual, one has to presume there is intellectual knowledge to be obtained exclusively from college and nowhere else.

I find a vast majority of students (these days or perhaps any other) treat college more as an extension of high school and a social/networking opportunity more than raw pursuit of exposure to academics.

I do not like the way the question is posed. It seems to make assumptions that are not necessarily true in order to posit that "geeks are becoming anti-intellectual".

Re:Not anti-intellectualism (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366650)

The intellectual value of college is hardly the classes, it's spending time with similarly interested people outside of class time debating and discussing various things. Outside of the academic world it's nigh impossible to find that kind of density of intellectually astute individuals.

Personally, I learned far more from my classmates than I ever did from the lectures. And that's not surprising, the banking model of education [wikipedia.org] was never particularly well suited to learning. People generally don't retain facts in isolation, there's a lot more information that needs to be learned in order for the knowledge to be integrated, and that's where the classmates come into things.

Re:Not anti-intellectualism (2)

DanTheStone (1212500) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366716)

I do not like the way the question is posed. It seems to make assumptions that are not necessarily true in order to posit that "geeks are becoming anti-intellectual".

That's called "Begging the question".

I agree with you in general. My college experience was very little intellectual experience, mostly practical work training and well-rounding busywork. I feel like I came out of it far smarter, but not more "intellectual" (depending on how you define such a thing). I think I've learned more intellectual thinking from books than college.

Re:Not anti-intellectualism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366596)

When college is "high school v2.0" and your most interesting classes are in a herd of 100+ students, then yes college is a waste of time. What's not a waste is skipping class and hanging out in the library for independent research. You can learn far more than they're saying in some of those classes if you just crack open a few of those resources. A college library at a good 4+ year institution will have 10x more depth in your field of study than a typical state library.

Re:Not anti-intellectualism (5, Insightful)

Marillion (33728) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366664)

"College as a waste of time" is also an indicator of what's wrong with modern university education. They're turning into glorified trade schools. I've had recently graduates tell me, "We studied .NET at school." I'm sorry, .NET is a trade not Computer Science. In my book, you're not a real computer graduate unless you believe that Computer Science is language agnostic.

Re:Not anti-intellectualism (1)

stanjo74 (922718) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366704)

Education is virtually free (the library, the web, used books). A diploma costs money.

Re:Not anti-intellectualism (1)

Larry Sanger (936381) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366718)

Well, there's more to the post than the "college is a waste of time" thing. Scan down for the points (numbered 1-5) that I'm calling anti-intellectual. "College is a waste of time" is one only of them. And besides, if you'll look at Dale Stephens' CNN article [cnn.com] , you'll see plenty of anti-intellectual notes [larrysanger.org] .

Re:Not anti-intellectualism (1)

dotagamer69 (2242370) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366748)

Well I went to college and graduated in 2008. First year out of university I was making over $100,000 [BS Chemical Engineering]. Seems like a good deal to me.

Re:Not anti-intellectualism (1)

econolog (2081738) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366802)

Well you are also wrong again (your groupon sig) Whether people like it or not it matters what you get your degree in and where you go. So say you plan on going to that community college for a degree in literature... that might not benefit you financially. http://www.payscale.com/best-colleges/degrees.asp [payscale.com] There is also a website that calculates the annual difference in average salary depending on the university, major, and grades. I don't have time to find it right now but you can probably find it on Google. **All** show that it's significantly beneficial to go to university and that which school you go to matters.

College is what you make of it. (1)

jhantin (252660) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366806)

For me, college coursework -- especially computer science coursework -- was mostly a breeze, an overview and introduction to the material. What made it worthwhile was the time spent digging deeper than the classes -- independent study in the truest sense of the word. College creates the environment where that kind of self-directed, self-motivated learning is possible. The Internet facilitates the flowering of a new Invisible College [wikipedia.org] beyond the conventional campus.

Anti-intellectual sentiment is so prevalent in the zeitgeist of much of America, the Middle East and central Asia, it's no surprise some geeks are picking it up. Anti-college sentiment specifically, on the other hand, likely arises from the large number of graduates -- even those with master-level degrees -- that are unable to "hit the ground running" in a work environment, or even require refresher courses on basic algorithms and data structures such as breadth-first search with associated queues.

What if you're the one that's wrong? (1)

truetorment (919200) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366464)

What were the five common opinions, widely held by geeks? Without that information, it could actually be YOU that was wrong in the argument, and not the other geek. :)

College? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366470)

Saying "college is a waste of time" is not anti-intellectual, any more than saying "religion is a waste of time" is anti-moral.

Institutionalized education is NOT the same thing as education.

"Education is a system of imposed ignorance"
-- Noam Chomsky

Re:College? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366750)

Noam Chomsky? You mean the same one that said that somewhere in the brain is a Language Acquisition Device, but I won't propose where it is or what specifically it encompasses, that Chomsky?

College is what you make of it, if you don't take advantage of the environment to question authority and find the answers that are bugging you, then you're not going to be educated, ever. College just tends to speed the process up a great deal by requiring study in areas outside your major and providing the catalysts for further study. If you can't continue on your own after graduation then the college has failed miserably at it's job.

Re:College? (1)

Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366814)

I went to college, was there for 4 years (that was the way the course was set up).
After 3 years I almost dropped out. I felt I had learned all I was going to learn at that place. I was talked into remaining there another year.
That last year was totally finals-orientated. "Finals" turned out to be totally rote-knowledge based, something which rather surprised me.

Yes, the last year was pretty much a waste of time. Nothing I picked up during that time actually turned out to be of any use, apart maybe from the degree itself - something which I have never needed since. The preceding (third) year - *that* was loaded with useful information.

Intentional? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366476)

I guess this makes sense, but I'm not sure it's an intentional thing. Words tend to change meaning over time, and the word 'geek' is starting to be associated with 'cool' kids who dress a certain way.

I'm okay with this, as long as a new word eventually surfaces that lets me distinguish myself from the new 'geeks'.

Re:Intentional? (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366546)


No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366482)

Anyone who is anti-intellectualism is not a geek.

Less long words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366514)

Moar apple slashvertisments!

It's libertarianism (1)

sseaman (931799) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366494)

Libertarianism seems to be married to a distrust of authority, including academic or otherwise intellectual authority whose power isn't based on some sort of commercially-viable aesthetic appeal (for example, libertarians will acknowledge the authority of bestsellers widely read in their circles, or directors, video game designers, programmers, or musicians).

Re:It's libertarianism (1)

medcalf (68293) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366654)

Yes, Victor Davis Hanson is a noted anti-intellectual.

Sarcasm, for those who can't tell.

Re:It's libertarianism (2)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366672)

To be fair, there are numerous failures of central planners and "smart people" who try to control our lives and make decisions for us. 5-year plans, Vietnam, etc.

You can take this distrust to the extreme. Or you can follow the American Constitutional model. Keep decisions like this as local as problem and limit the scope of the failure if something really stupid is done.

Re:It's libertarianism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366698)

As a Libertarian, the only sensible answer I can form regarding your comments is: Huh?

I guess an over-generalization of 'the other' is something that all people share in common at least, intellectually founded or not. I suspect that many distrust the bestsellers widely read in Libertarian circles, etc. is for the very reason they aren't Libertarian. Of course all parties will simply claim the other is wrong.

Re:It's libertarianism (1)

Jaborandy (96182) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366796)

Please don't malign libertarianism with a connection to anti-intellectualism. Libertarianism is a distrust of ABUSE OF POWER, not of AUTHORITY. When authority is earned on its merits, as it is with the value of classic literature in a free market of ideas,then any power it has is legitimate. But if a college accreditation board decides that all students must learn that classic book to graduate with a meaningful degree, and there is no alternative choice available, then they are abusing their power no matter how honorable their intentions

Question (4, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366498)

Is an intellectual somebody who has memorized a lot of information, or is it somebody who is adept at learning?

I ask because I don't see a case of 'cool to be stupid', instead I see an evolution of how we function in a society where we've stored our knowledge in a manner that is dirt-simple to get at.

Re:Question (1)

Larry Sanger (936381) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366766)

I don't see a case of "cool to be stupid," either. Geek anti-intellectualism is not like jock anti-intellectualism. As TFA says...well, I'll just let you read it.

Re:Question (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366816)

I think an intellectual is a person who asks questions and attempts to answer them. A knowledge seeker. They don't ask the same questions over and over - and they share their results openly.

slashdoted all ready (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366506)

That was quick!

Re:slashdoted all ready (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366724)

Slashdot. Providing camouflaged DDoS attacks for over a decade.

None of them are geeks (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366524)

None of the people in that article are geeks. All liberal-arts majors, book authors, marketing personnel, PR, spokemodels, management, etc. If I remember my HHGttG correctly, they're all from the "B Ark". As a group, they've always been anti-intellectual, its just they've recently had a thin veneer of geekiness smoothed over them.

It may be that I'm out of touch and being a geek now means you're a "tech journalist / blogger".

Re:None of them are geeks (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366746)

yep need a proper geek test like

which end of the soldering iron gets hot
what is the eighth layer of OSI and the 5th layer of TCP/IP
what layer Does MIDI fit into in the OSI stack (and no its not what CISCO tells you)
which Computer game has "two chease burgers and a big mac to go" as an easter egg
bonus point what hardware did it run on
extra bonus point did you succeed in the game


whoops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366530)

I saw the headline and assumed that this was going to be an article about Apple.

Bull... (5, Insightful)

shadowfaxcrx (1736978) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366534)

Seems to me that "college is a waste of time" is an economic, not an anti-learning argument. Economically college can be a waste of time. How many English majors are out there making huge bucks vs how many of them are working at Home Depot? How many people got a degree in "web design" or some such fluffery in the 90's only to discover that, gee, there's not a huge market out there for such services.

If I'm going to end up working at McDonalds after I get my 4-year degree, then I might as well skip the degree and work at McDonalds 4 years early.

As for learning, dunno about the rest of you guys but my college education was largely an exercise in bullshit. Repeat what the professor said if you want an A. Disagree with his premises if you want an F. That's not learning. It's regurgitation. Parrots can do that too, and they don't attend college to do it.

And of course there's the student attitude side of "education" as well. A good number of my "getting educated" classmates liked to say stupid crap like "well I paid for the class and so the professor owes me an A." Those guys aren't there to learn. They're there to get a piece of paper that says they went to college. That piece of paper is worthless in and of itself. The value comes from either having learned something (and these guys pretty much limited their learning to the fluid dynamics of beer bongs) or from getting a job that you could not otherwise have gotten.

Well, you probably can't get that job in this economy anyway, and meanwhile manufacturing jobs are starting to open up, and remain open because companies can't find qualified welders etc. Economically speaking, currently anyway, it makes more sense for a lot of people to go to a trade school and learn how to weld than it does to go to a college and learn how to do something that they won't be able to do once they graduate.

That's not anti-intellectualism. It's anti-impracticality.


Re:Bull... (1)

gregarican (694358) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366652)

Pretty valid points. College is essentially intellectual exercise and not necessarily a practical (i.e. - monetary investment) exercise. I was an English major and wound up being an IT Manager the past 15+ years. A degree shows you can learn, regurgitate facts, and comform to professors' requirements. All of those years and experiences could've been replaced with a bottom rung IT A+ type of job and taking some technical certification classes...

Re:Bull... (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366764)

Skipping the degree to get a McDonald's job is not the same as skipping the degree to get a job as a welder.

College isn't Intellectual Enough (1)

smug_lisp_weenie (824771) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366538)

The reason geeks look down on college is because the vast majority of colleges/universities set their bar too low. College professors and students are insulated from market forces and over time this has eroded the system.

BTW, I worked 40 hours a week as a video game developer in college, and still pulled out an A- average at my crappy school (USF) for a Biology degree, even though I skipped most of the classes to go to work.

I think I learned about 10x from my job, where we had to deliver a marketable product on a tight deadline, than I ever learned at my college. Wish I would have skipped that colossal waste of time.

Re:College isn't Intellectual Enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366712)

congratulations. Try that with a real major, like math, physics, engineering.

Re:College isn't Intellectual Enough (1)

smug_lisp_weenie (824771) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366792)

I think my mistake was the school I went to, not the major.

Re:College isn't Intellectual Enough (3, Interesting)

toppavak (943659) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366754)

College professors and students are insulated from market forces and over time this has eroded the system.

On the contrary, I think the exact opposite is the problem. Colleges are increasingly under pressure to teach skills that will get students jobs, recruit more students to get more funding and twist every metric possible in order to move up in rankings. Take admissions and graduation statistics, for example, the more students that get rejected from a university the more "prestigious and exclusive" it becomes, on the flip side the more students that fail out of the university, the more inept it appears. It is thus in every university's best interest to encourage the widespread ideas that everybody can and should go to college and then relax graduation standards for accepted students.

Even academic research is slowly but surely moving away from high-risk, publicly funded fundamental work to applied technology development (itself not necessarily a bad thing) which has gone hand-in-hand with the rise of the university Technology Transfer Office and a drive to squeeze every drop of money out of that academic research rather than focusing on the core university mission to produce and disseminate knowledge as widely as possible. While the dissemination of many technologies may benefit from patenting and exclusive licensing (particularly tech that requires significant private investment to develop and bring to market), the promise of commercial success has motivated patenting in many fields which do not fit this model.

Depends on your definition of geek (1)

dingo_kinznerhook (1544443) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366540)

Is a person a geek because he/she is antisocial, is an expert in something obscure, or for some other reason?

Re:Depends on your definition of geek (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366730)

Is a person a geek because he/she is antisocial, is an expert in something obscure, or for some other reason?

According to the article, it's because they're a journalist / marketing dude / manager who tries to influence public opinion by writing about tech. Not really my definition of geek, but if it works for him...

College worked out great for me.... (1)

kaizendojo (956951) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366542)

.. I didn't go and I didn't get a degree. Now I make a very comfortable living working three days a week instructing those that DID go to college, how exactly they should be doing their jobs. Ironically enough, one of the markets I specialize in is - wait for it - education.

Re:College worked out great for me.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366708)

Clearly. You missed the lecture about generalizing from an instance or testimonials. Your point is neither here nor there, though you wear it as a badge.

This all becomes a question of what should be expected from universities, and why are many not delivering. Once that question has been asked the discussion becomes a whole lot more messy, or perhaps complicated.

Lol (4, Insightful)

moogied (1175879) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366548)

College is a waste of time for anyone looking to go into the IT field. Programming? Its iffy honestly. Most places would hire someone with 5 years XP over some college kid with 1 year. So my choices are I could either just work in IT.. spend maybe 100k over my entire life on certs and renewals and make the same as a college kid... or I could go to college, leave with 200k in debt, still need the 100k for certs and renewals, and start 4-7 years after my competition... so.. uh... ya. College? Waste of money sometimes.

Re:Lol (2)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366770)

try and get a job at Google with out a degree then

Maybe? But not because Larry Sanger says so. (1)

Shortgeek (971350) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366550)

TFA is a load of strawmanning - he discusses an interesting point, which I won't go into because I haven't thought/read enough about it, but his discussion is oh-so-exaggerated. To quote:

"The classics, being books, are also outmoded. They are outmoded because they are often long and hard to read, so those of us raised around the distractions of technology can’t be bothered to follow them; and besides, they concern foreign worlds, dominated by dead white guys with totally antiquated ideas and attitudes. In short, they are boring and irrelevant."

It would be rather hard to find any person, geek or no, who would say something like that. I think that definitely, there are some geeks who are decidedly anti-intellectual. (Just like there are some geeks who are decidedly intellectual.) And if Larry Sanger wants to copy a couple of their statements and distill them down to a J'accuse - well, congratulations. He's done what every political pundit does every day.

Um... college is a waste of time. (1)

thesh0ck (1983948) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366572)

Saying college is a waste of time isnt anti-intelectual. most intelectuals do not have college to thank for thier minds.

Re:Um... college is a waste of time. (1)

gearsmithy (1869466) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366636)

I think the more appropriate statement is that college is a waste of time, for some people.

Fad, Will Pass. (1)

Medevilae (1456015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366578)

Similar to the current hipster movement, it's not cool enough, almost too "mainstream" to be an intellectual right now. Some geeks try to hide their intellectual side- not necessarily abandoning it, for the sake of being different and special. This is amplified by the sheep who follow those other geeks, thinking that the underlying motivations for their kinds' exodus was something other than self definition/separation/what have you. Reddit is a good example. They're obviously still geeks, but they try to hide it by putting stress on life and (usually) lies about their social life, something unheard of and in fact rather unnecessary on the internet when you're not in a setting with people you know in real life usually, however the behavior persists for the aforementioned reason. Whenever the balances of the great hipster scales are tipped, you'll see the converse of this. Also I can't have linebreaks? I am not happy.

Only among the loud. (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366580)

The rest of us are still expanding our skills, finding jobs, studying in school, and generally doing our thing. It's just really easy for it to look like the loudest represent us all. (This applies to more than just geekdom.)

What? (1)

oic0 (1864384) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366582)

Seems a bit trollish. If anything geeks are more likely to flame you for not knowing some obscure bit of information. Perhaps the "hipness" of being a geek has drawn in a few mindless idiots though. In my opinion geeks fall in to one of two categories. The "hip" crowd that is also usually very liberal, also because it is hip. These people are usually borderline retarded. At the other end of the spectrum are the real geeks who can't help but be a geek. These people typically don't buy in to any political propaganda and lean towards general distrust and dislike of the government regardless of party,

it's just computer geeks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366586)

It's not all geeks, it's just computer geeks. 200 years ago they would have been clerks scratching entries in ledgers in the basements of banks, feeling superior to people with outdoor jobs. They have no taste for learning anything they can't immediately use.

Poor Example (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366600)

It is a very poor example to use college. For many people, it is a waste of time. For many others, even if you do receive a good education, you get a ton of debt.

What the parent post seems to be saying is that if you disagree with a position that you hold or that a majority of educated folk hold, that is anti-intellectual. That isn't anti-intellectual. That is a minority viewpoint. There is a difference.

dumbing down languages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366612)

There has also been a trend to dumb down programming languages.

If you mention any vaguely advanced language concepts (independent of any actual language), many "geeks" and IT people just stare blankly. This leads to the creation of languages that, in the process of holding your hand, force you to create inferior code that is larger and harder to maintain.

Id have to disagree (1)

umask077 (122989) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366614)

I see some of what you are saying. Yes it was stated that college is a waste of time. This can be true. Depends on the field. Undergrad level of school is more about if you can do homework and take a test then actual knowledge gaining it seems. I disagree that geeks abandon knowledge because they abandon traditional concepts. Geeks are the forefront of change. The geek is the one who is smart and is likely to be successful or so we were taught in high school. When I worked in IT i skipped college and part of high school. Knowledge and my ability to research beyond traditional means moved me well into the 6 figure salary range. Do to numerous circumstances I find myself reexamining my life and needing a change from the stress of IT work. I've reentered college but I don't feel its a waste as my knowledge of my new field, psychology is limited from a professional standpoint. I have no doubt I could have another job in IT without those degrees but in person growth I am forced this time to get a degree. Is it a waste? No, its about if you learn from it. Sitting through a class in say "Unix shell scripting" would be pointless for me but If I wanted that IT degree odds are I would need it. It doesn't mean I can't do the job. College is about training people so they can do a job. If you can do a job without it then there is no reason why you need that degree, but if you can't its time for training. Its pretty simple. As to rejecting paper media if its on the screen are you going to learn any less from it? Geeks want innovation and paper books are an antiquated relic of times past. Technology is an enabler and it should be used as such. As to opposing knowledge that seems absurd. If someone truly opposes knowledge its probably time to remove them from the gene pool.

A telling sign of geek anti-intellectualism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366630)

are the comments here equating financial and career success with intellectualism.

Overly Skeptical (1)

hsjserver (1826682) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366632)

I'm not sure that's exactly the phrasing I would use for it. I think I'd call it unhealthy skepticism, where we've become so cynical to what we've been told that we automatically discount it and fall back on how we tend to see things. I suppose they're pretty similar but I don't think that's really how those types of people see themselves, and they probably deserve the benefit of the doubt. I notice it most when anything political or economic comes up and we hear about how we're going to turn into Zimbabwe because PRINTING MONEY, but I think it has more to do with the difficulty to find and digest real information when 90% of claims made are on their face bullshit, and another 7% seem legit but are actually bullshit.

So I guess, sure, some are anti-intellectual, but I think most of us just have a hard time sifting through the noise.

Geek Reactionism (1)

oldrepublic (2242356) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366634)

There is a new level of geek culture that seems to be less like the island of calm spirit that I used to love in my childhood and more a loudmouth beer swilling defensive stance that will argue and ram opinions down any and everybodies throat that disagrees. You see much of this online winging on about how youd be 'fun at parties' and other comments that quite frankly aren't what made the culture strong. bb

Happiness through the lack of thought? (1)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366642)

Ignorance is bliss, they say...

I don't think it's (only) Anti-Intellectualism. (2)

deathcloset (626704) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366646)

Among the ignorant, of course there is anti-intellectualism: this is by nature. I think among the intelligent, however, there is a sentiment of antiestablishmentarianism.

The two sentiments maybe coincide and so have a combined effect to erode the public faith in institutional education, but amoung geeks, the intelligent and the educated it's not anti-intellectualism.

I am not unintelligent. Throughout school, however, I did terribly. This is not a new story.

There is perhaps a growing feeling or perception that current education is mostly about memorization at the great expense of imagination. Imagination is creation. Memorization is indoctrination.

No (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366658)

No, you're wrong.

STFU and go away.

Paradigm shift (4, Interesting)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366660)

Don't confuse anti-academicism with anti-intellectualism. People are just as interested in learning as they ever were, but the monopoly on higher education held by the university system for the last couple centuries is crumbling in the face of the freer exchange of ideas offered by the internet.

Universities are in the content delivery and certification business. They're suffering the same internet-related issues as other content delivery systems as other options become viable. (Khan Academy, anyone?) But worse for them, they've allowed their certification standards to steadily be weakened, while at the same time raising their prices far faster than inflation. Faced with paying ridiculous prices for weak degrees when free options abound, it's hardy surprising that many choose to opt out.

Where is the anti-intellectualism? (4, Interesting)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366666)

The Peter Thiel-inspired claim that college is a waste of time is just the latest example.

I think you should be concerning yourself about whether college may be showing signs of anti-intellectualism. I think you could make some strong arguments that it is, and that its importance and utility has diminished.

Anti-Institutionalism (1)

SageinaRage (966293) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366668)

There's a difference between anti-intellectualism and anti-institutionalism.

College HAS become a waste of time (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366674)

colleges, universities come from scholastic roots from their roots in 13th century church universities. even the word scholar, scholastic has church roots. over the centuries, universities have served good use by liberating themselves from their religious aspect and adopting positive sciences, but, they have more or less maintained the general hierarchical and monolithic structure of the scholastic roots. curriculums et al remain almost same for centuries in system and mechanics. this worked well for centuries. but ....

times have changed. we have the information revolution now, the internet, intellectual and processing power of the crowds, new methods, new approaches, new techniques. it moves fast now. colleges and universities cant keep up with internet. you can see it at the minimum in the difficulty of i.t. related departments of colleges for keeping up with the fast tech.

we need something new in our times. and i guess it will be something having to do with internet.

PhD... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366676)

You've mistaken a geek's innate distrust of unquestioned thought with... some kind of required conformity, I suppose. Geeks will often respect a cool idea, but never some nameless institution. Certainly not some authority that claims to offer something unprovable like, I don't know, intellectualism.

PhD = Piled higher and Deeper. This probably even predates Heinlein. No, geeks seem to still be on the same path. Not to say there aren't geek posers that will muddy the purity of the aesthetic.

Quotes (3, Insightful)

Synn (6288) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366690)

A few quotes by a few people doesn't make for a culture of Anti-Intellectualism. The change in how knowledge is acquired over the last 20 years has been beyond drastic. 20 years ago when I wanted to do a paper on super novas and pulsars I spent days in the library sorting through books. Today all that information, and more, is available to me in seconds.

It's completely valid that this sort of change will shake up how humans deal with education and the transfer of knowledge. It's also good to be questioning the impact such systems have on us as a whole(such as how the super organic impacts knowledge when it's completely free flowing and popular opinions percolate to the top). Questioning old guard institutions and methods isn't Anti-Intellectualism, it's quite the opposite.

Yes. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366692)

A coder is not a computer scientist or even really a programer. They have the same relationship to a programer as draftsperson has to an engineer or architect. Some coders can become programmers but they are the ones that read Knuth and take classes and so on. It is going down hill fast folks, I deal with support techs that don't understand what an ascii file is. They have no idea what Unicode is. And they really don't even know what binary is. Most don't even know that it takes 1024 bytes to make a kilobyte and 1024 kilobytes to make a megabyte much less why.
Sure they can tell me which GPU is the fastest but they will also things like AMD video cards suck because their drivers are crap. Or better yet that Macs suck! They have never used one or a Linux box but they know that it sucks....
I gave them a link to some free computer science texts I have found including one my Wirth. Not one of them bothered to read them.
I fear that as more people adopt the label "geeks" the more the rift raft creeps in. Hell they are showing wrestling on the Science Fiction channel!
That is how bad we have fallen!

Not anti-intellectual; skeptical of an institution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366702)

The economics of university are certainly the driving force, but "geeks" are naturally skeptical of ossified, centralized institutions that exist for the sake of existing more than anything else.

I think most of us agree that from the time of the ancient Greeks to now, the western university has had a great run, and that there's a great deal of it worth preserving. There really is a lot to learn from what should rank as one of humanity's greatest achievements.

But it's offensive to our sense of liberty to make people suffer through years of poverty to prop up a collapsing institution out of a sense of nostalgia.

Yup, he's just trolling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366706)

But I did read the entire article to find that out, so I guess I'm guilty of feeding him.

No there isn't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366714)

With geek sheik being the new zer cool many nongeeks have taken to claiming to be geeks. This does not mean they are any more than the male figure skater in high school claiming to be a jock.

As for college being a waste of time.. Yep, for a lot of degrees it is a waste of time and money. A "do you want fries with that?" degree like philosophy or art appreciation is just a way to rack up a pile of debt and waste 5 income earning years (3 you you voteched to an IT job in 2 years). Saying it is a waste of time is not anti-intellectual, it is sitting down and actually figuring out if degrees are worth as much as colleges say they are.

Not anti-intellectualism... (1)

dyingtolive (1393037) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366720)

...but more like a focus away from what I can only call "traditional intellectualism". It's the "I'm smart enough to drop out of school at 16 and get my GED so that I can start on real life rather than high school bullshit" mentality. I know a guy who did that. Started working at a mom & pop ISP back in the 90s, and then went on to be a successful network engineer. Also, college IS overrated. Sure, the piece of paper looks nice, might get you another $AMOUNT of money on your paycheck, but at the end of the day, it's still sophistry to the highest degree, and you spend that additional $AMOUNT of money paying it back for years to come. For anyone actually genuinely interested in learning, and not just looking for a job, we have Internet resources like Khan academy, tutorial sites, and Wikipedia (love it or hate it, it is informative enough to be a starting point). Honestly, I trust Wikipedia more than I trust most of the "professors" I had in college, but perhaps I'm just bitter, and/or perhaps I just picked a shit school.

On the other side of the coin, I could also see Mr. Sanger having a legitimate point. I refuse to accept any research on 'controversial' issues with large amounts of political or corporate interest behind them. I refuse to believe in or against global warming, for example. For some reason, people are too polarized on the topic, and I can't find any information I trust on the subject, so I willfully ignore anything I encounter concerning the topic, and do not take a stand as I do not feel well informed enough to feel justified. Most 'studies' I read that aren't paywalled in a journal somewhere always have that 'corporate slime' feel to them, and so I hear about the new medical breakthrough or recent scientific finding, and I can't help but think to myself, "Is that real? How are they going to market that?"

Is it right, wrong, good, bad, or otherwise? I wish I knew. I'm not informed enough to be able to make a decision.

The whole premise is wrong (1)

thomp (56629) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366722)

Not knowing that the Battle of Hastings was in 1066 is not anti-intellectual. Knowing trivial facts about that event does not necessarily mean you understand the significance of that event.

Anti Real intellectualism? Or anti pretensions? (1)

Mike Van Pelt (32582) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366732)

TFA has been melted into slag by slashdotting, so maybe the author covered this, but I wonder what, exactly, is meant by "intellectual"? A lot of what passes for it has less to do with rational works of the intellect than with currently trendy fashions among those who pat themselves on the back for being "intellectuals."

Geeks tend to not go along with that sort of crowd. (They have their own sorts of crowds.)

False dichotomies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366758)

He's drawing a very false dichotomy between the notion that some geeks are expressly anti-intellectual, and the more legitimate idea that perhaps we should redefine what is intellectual. I am tempted to say that knowledge as the memorization as facts/dates is somewhat outdated in a world of Google, whereas knowledge as the synthesis of opinions/theories is now considerably more valuable as a search engine can't provide that (yet). Hence the modern emphasis on crowdsourcing. But he's just linking that shift in focus with a complete denial of knowledge, and defending it with empty strawmen. Which is just lame.

FTFY (4, Informative)

TimHunter (174406) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366768)

'At the bottom of the slippery slope, you seem to be opposed to everything.'

/. commenters, lacking knowledge substitute cynicism, lacking experience substitute pessimism, lacking wit substitute sarcasm, and lacking passion substitute indignation.

More Specific (1)

xclr8r (658786) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366788)

Anti-Intellectual? No

Anti-Institution? Probably Yes.

A large portion of geeks today are self taught and have confidence in their own ability to figure things out. The institution is worthless to them. I just watched Jaws recently and I relate the owner of the boat an old Sea Hand who kept making fun of the college researcher. Near the end of the movie he runs out of ideas and finally starts listening to the college kid. (Maybe I'm just buying into Hollywood stereotypes).

As they pass on do they want their knowledge to be lost so other geeks can re-invent the wheel and get to the same point they did .. or do they want to build upon the existing knowledge base - this is where the institution comes in. Unfortunately a lot of institutions have been slow on the uptake for IT.

I'll take my Karma hit now.

Geeks are intelectuals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36366794)

Seriously? You think an intellectual is somebody who plays video war games but doesn't know the first thing about history is an intellectual? You think somebody who can write Java code but doesn't fundamentally understand the inner workings of a computer is an intellectual? When I started my career the people I worked with had degrees in maths, philosophy, greek history, biology, and so on. Many played musical instruments and you could engage in deep lunch time discussion about anything from the rise of socialism to the defeat of German militarism to Chmosky's 'Manufacturing Consent'. Those are intellectuals.
Pissant clowns who know how to make the latest gadget work are not intellectuals. And they won't have much luck getting a job 10 years from now when their superficial knowledge is obsolete. Remember this phrase: "Welcome to Wal-mart"

Blame (1)

bi$hop (878253) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366800)

It's all Geek Squad's fault. The very definition of geek was tainted the moment they started bundling their services at Best Buy.

anti-intellectuals, not anti-intellectualism (1)

t2t10 (1909766) | more than 3 years ago | (#36366804)

As an intellectual, I'm anti-intellectual, in the sense that I take nobody's word for granted, even if they are supposed to be a "recognized expert". Either explain your reasoning or go away.

Nullius in verba.

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