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The new religion of modern mythology

"The Truth Will Set You Free"


Distinctions Between Intellectuals And Pseudo-Intellectuals
By Sydney Harris, Detroit Free Press, (11/20/81)

*The intellectual is looking for the right questions to ask; the pseudo is giving what he claims to be the right answers.

*The intellectual is evidently motivated by a disinterested love of truth; the pseudo is interested in being right, or being thought to be right, whether he is or not.

*The intellectual is willing to admit that what he does not know is far greater than what he knows; the pseudo claims to know as much as can be known about the subject under consideration.

*The intellectual states as good a case for his adversary as can be made out; the pseudo sets up a straw man and beats it to death for the sake of seeming superior.

*The intellectual is deeply and constantly aware of the limitations of human reason; the pseudo makes a deity of reason and tries to force it into realms it cannot penetrate.

*The intellectual seeks light from whatever source, realizing that ideas are no respecters of persons and turn up in the most unexpected places from the most improbable people; the pseudo accepts ideas, when he does, only from experts and specialists and certified authorities.

*The intellectual advances an hypothesis that he hopes may be true; the pseudo propounds a dogma that he insists is true.

*The intellectual recognizes that opposites are not always contradictory, and may indeed reinforce each other; the pseudo paints a picture in black and white, right or wrong, leaving no room for a contrary viewpoint.

*The intellectual knows there are no final answers to human questions; the pseudo makes each tentative and provisional answer sound like a finality.

*The intellectual is courageous in opposing majority opinion, even when it jeopardizes his position; the pseudo slavishly follows "the most reliable authorities" in his field sneering at heresies.

*The intellectual never talks down to his audience, but tries to be as clear as possible; the pseudo talks above his audience to mystify and impress them."


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