Public Opinion of Academics


Xykademiqz (fucken ridiculous blogge name, I know, but don’t blame the messenger) is wondering what we academics need to do to make the average American understand how awesome we are and that they should support us in our academic pursuits and not hate our guts with a burning passion:

I don’t know what it is that we can do to convince the public that we do an important job, that most of us would make considerably more in industry and that tenure is a way to attract talent, and that research at the US universities is an important economic engine [because we can’t speak of broadening people’s horizons (bad! blasphemy!) or instilling critical thinking skills]. We can’t say “Whatever, let people believe what they want,” because this public opinion is a base for squashing research funding. So we can’t stop trying to get through to the people around us about what we do and why it’s important. I just don’t know how to do it in a way that actually matters.

The big mistake here is thinking that the average American just needs more information, and if they understood what academics do and how “important” it is, they’d love us and want their kids to become academics. Sorry, but this is delusional. Americans are on the whole a hateful spiteful people, and they basically just hate everyone, because they hate themselves and their own lives, which mostly suck. The reason they hate academics isn’t because they give a fucke how much money we make or how hard we work or whether we are lazt or what we do is “important” versus “useless”. They hate academics because we mostly come across as not miserable and as enjoying our lives.

The average American hates anyone whom they perceive as less miserable as they are. This is why the Republican electoral strategy of (1) enact legislative policies that make the vast majority of people’s lives more miserable, (2) highlight convenient spite targets whose lives (at least supposedly) aren’t as miserable: Hollywood elites, welfare bucks eating steaks while driving cadillacs, academics, jews, gays, foreigners, etc, (3) run candidates who promise to fucke over those spite targets, and hard. The reason that gay pride parades are (well, at least used to be) so perfect for right-wingers is that LOOK HOW MUCH FUCKEN FUN EVERYONE IS HAVING.

(h/t to commenter “Andy Groves” at my blogge for pointing me to this excellent article, which explains in a lot more detail where this comes from. Interesting corollary to all of this is that if Democrats want to win elections both national and state-wide, they need to give Americans someone to hate. No one gives a shit about whether Democrats are going to “help” them. They need someone they perceive as less miserable than they are to hate and whom the Democrats will promise to fucke over. The most obvious target is the super-wealthy, of course. But the problem is they have all the fucken money to buy teevee ads, etc. Republicans have it easy, because they can promise to fucke over people who have no money.)

Comments

  1. paleodoc1782 says

    Wow. What a screwed up, misanthropic point of view. You need help, fella.

  2. OldLadyRocker says

    Sorry, but I totally agree with PhysioProffe’s take on this one. It’s the reason there are still people who make minimum wage who are against raising the minimum wage or policies protecting workers from being cheated from benefits through hours reduction even though they are currently working multiple part time jobs at near or minimum wage to survive.

  3. danielwilliams says

    That’s… an extremely bitter way to look at it. For one, WHO says all the working class hates academics? That’s a bloody big brush you’re painting with.

    All the poor folks I know (which is just about everyone I know, including myself) if they ever get pissed off at academics it because we feeling like we’re being talked down to, told we’re trying doing it right and trying hard enough when making it to the end of the month still living under a roof is damned hard enough.. just like what you did just now Commradde.

    Let’s blame the fuckers pitting us against each other instead, yeah?

  4. danielwilliams says

    Ack, stupid phone. That’s supposed to be “we feel like we’re being talked down to, told we’re not doing it right and not trying hard enough when making it to the end…”

  5. birgerjohansson says

    I think Physioproffe is writing about the Americans he sees at Fox News…

  6. TheIntronertPhD says

    The ‘omg, you see something negative in the USA, you must be a bitter misanthropist and need happiness (aka exceptionalism) correction’ are also very American.

  7. quixote says

    I second those who feel our Comradde got it right.

    “The big mistake here is thinking that the average American just needs more information, and if they understood what academics do and how “important” it is, they’d love us and want their kids to become academics. Sorry, but this is delusional. Americans … hate academics because we mostly come across as not miserable and as enjoying our lives.”

    That squares with everything I’ve seen since forever, both in terms of the delusional academics and the people who resent them.

  8. willym says

    I disagree, Proffe. I taught in a public high school for 34 years and in general was respected by most of my students and their parents (and the administration, for the most part). Now, you might not consider me an academic: I didn’t publish any papers or do any specialized research. But I certainly attempted to instill critical thinking in my students. I wrote several grants to access federal money for our program (not all of which were successful), and over the years I participated with colleagues in several conferences which sought to improve both the overall skills of teaching and of the subjects we taught.
    And I joined my fellow teachers in attempting to convince the administration and the community that we should be valued with a decent paycheck for our efforts.
    After an eight year struggle we convinced the community to replace our aging high school building with a new school. We did so by convincing the town that their kids would benefit from a modern facility.
    Ours was largely a rural community at the time, and we who worked for the schools generally had bigger paychecks than most of our student’s parents. Yet we didn’t lose the town’s support with the building campaign and managed to overcome most of the objections (which seemed to come from those who could afford to support a new building with school bonds and higher taxes).
    I don’t find your cynicism about Americans being hateful and spiteful to be universal. I do agree that we are far more divided politically now, however. But the ascendency of the conservative mind which seems to prevail now is waning. Americans seem slow to react to abuse, it is true. Nevertheless, people are waking to the fact that money and the enormous influence of the people who have it are able to abuse our country. So yes, we can use the super rich as targets for our need for change – but free of the need to hate them; they’re only doing what they’ve been allowed to do.

  9. narya says

    and they hate the wimmens, especially the ones who utilize their own ladyparts however the fuck they want, including For FunFunSexyTime with people who aren’t Republicans.

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