let truth be thy aim, not victory, or an unjust interest
The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." - Joseph Joubert Sometimes, people talk a lot about popular subjects to assure 'victory' in conversation or understanding, and leave behind topics of less popularity, but great personal or intellectual importance. What do you think is important but underdiscussed? - Anonymous Suggestion
One of the biggest issues I see breeding in America is the rise of anti intellectualism sentiments among a huge swath of the population. World history has always seen a back and forth between science and reasoning, and ignorance and anti intellectualism, the most famous examples of both being the enlightenment and the dark ages, respectively. But while this cycle has always been fairly balanced and normal, there are serious consequences to the shift this time around because the world has become has so modernized.
Despite the fact that that 97% of climate scientists agree that global warming is real and the fault of human activity, there is a considerable section of the population that believes that climate change either isn't real or that it's a natural process. Even the president of America has said that climate change is a hoax created by China. This is not a problem that can be ignored, as global warm is already having drastic effects on our world, with grand scale coral bleaching, ice sheet melting, and rising sea levels. This mass ignorance of facts known to science is actually affecting the legislation that gets passed, and has made America one of the weakest proponents of stopping global warming, if it can even be called that.
A generous group of people know as anti-vaxxers have emerged that are refusing to vaccinate either themselves or their children. They believe that vaccines can cause autism, or that all the chemicals they put in vaccines can be dangerous for whoever gets the vaccine. Again, this isn't something that can be ignored, because not only are young children getting completely preventable diseases such as polio, which will leave them crippled for life, but these diseases are gaining a foothold in modernized countries. Once they have that foothold, they can much more easily spread to those who can't get vaccines, such as the very young or elderly. In the year 2000, scientists declared that measles had been medically eliminated from the united states. But in 2015, there was a relatively big outbreak of this disease because of declining vaccination rates. People who refuse to vaccinate because their ignorance are literally endangering their own and other people's lives.
Probably the most dramatic and depressing change is the drop in college enrollment. According to the Hechinger Report, nationwide college enrolment is down 2.4 million compared to rates in 2011. Higher education is one of the greatest institutions that modern society has to offer, and the fact that it is not being utilized is an affront to the centuries of progress that have resulted in the greatest universities the world has ever seen. Colleges have making cuts to the budgets to the budgets of humanities programs, and there has been a push recently to limit personal freedom and speech. This is the antithesis of everything a university stands for. As Richard Hofstadter once said, "A university's essential character is that of being a center of free inquiry and criticism - a thing not to be sacrificed for anything else". If this trend continues, the general public will become more uneducated than it already is. In a world where machines are able to automate unskilled labour more and more, having an education is incredibly important.
Anti intellectualism is almost never debated by itself. Instead, people see groups that believe outlandish things such as a flat earth and think that it is an isolated event. What goes unrealized is that there is a growing movement that distrusts academics, and is the obverse of what modern society stands for. America's most revered pillars of society are being undermined by the growth of this movement and it has gone practically unchallenged.
Anti intellectualism is one the most important changes in American society that has happened in the past two decades. Whenever someone brings up these issues, the "debate" always boils down to the two sides yelling at each other about how stupid the other is. People who don't believe in climate change and don't vaccinate aren't having their minds changed by facts. In fact, their numbers are growing. When a debate happens, both sides walk away muttering about how "they just can't understand what i'm saying", and no progress is made. The shift towards anti intellectualism is the single most important topic of intellectual importance that exists in this moment, and no progress is being made in the debate over it.
Anti intellectualism is something that needs to be addressed right away. It has flown under the radar for too long, and is having drastic effects on our everyday lives. The small amount of debate has not been productive at all. It has broken down into name calling and tempers. If we can move past the goal of victory and focus on truth, then real progress can come out of debate. But this can only be done when, as William Penn once said, society knows that "In all debates, let truth be thy aim, not victory, or an unjust interest."
Thank you for your help.
Holt Educational Consultant - / 10,696 3501
Cole, if the issue at hand is the rise of anti-intellectualism, then do not open the essay with discussions about global warming and anti-vaccination beliefs. Rather, stick to the debate topic and insert anti global warming and anti vaccination into the discussion as supporting examples at proper points within the debate. If you present your supporting evidences up front and then discuss the debate topic at the end, you will end up losing the debate because you concentrated too much on discussing your evidence, which deviated from the actual discussion. So work those evidences into the argument. Expect the arguments from the other side and counter argue within your essay using those discussions that you presented. Don't show all of your cards upfront, make the reader wonder how you plan to counter move on certain debate points. I don't see you doing that in this written debate. Try to expect the illogical arguments from the other side. Ask others to read your paper. Consider their questions and work those into your essay as "expected" opposition arguments that you will be "countering" in your statements. That will make this presentation much stronger than the version you have now.