Anti-intellectualism to Anti-rationalism to Post-truth Era: The Challenges for Higher Education argues that emergence of the post-truth world is evidence that anti-intellectualism, long recognized as a characteristic of American culture, has morphed into anti-rationalism as a surging force in American society that threatens our collective commitment to rationality. A post-truth world, however, is not an immutable condition and cannot be accepted as the new norm. The author argues that American higher education take responsibility for combating anti-rationalism by promoting the development of student's personal attributes that constitute a rational mind-set and rationalist identity, such that they hold themselves accountable for commitments to seeking truth and the value of critical thought and reasoned discourse as defining element of their way of being in the world. Scholarship exists across many disciplines regarding anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism in American society and the personal attributes that together constitute a rational mind-set, including an evaluativist personal epistemology, open-mindedness and conscientiousness, and a rationalist identity. The author brings the perspective of a psychologist to the analysis and synthesis of this scholarship and the implications for educational practices that are effective in promoting the development of student's rational mind-set and rationalist identity necessary to combat anti-rationalism and the post-truth world.
Robert J. Thompson Jr. is professor emeritus of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University.
Part I: Anti-Intellectualism: Contributing Factors and Societal Effects
Chapter 1: Introduction: Intellect and the Paradox of American Attitudes
Chapter 2: Hofstadter: Anti-Intellectualism in American Life
Chapter 3: Hofstadter Reexamined and the Resurgence of Anti-Intellectualism
Chapter 4: The Types and Characteristics of Intellectuals and their Work
Chapter 5: Standard Critique, Loss of Authority, and the New Public Intellectual
Part II: Post-Truth, Rationality, and False Beliefs
Chapter 6: A Post-truth World and Valuing Truth
Chapter 7: Rational Thinking
Chapter 8: The Formation and Correction of False Beliefs
Part III: Personal Attributes Constituting a Rational Mind-Set
Chapter 9: Personal Epistemology
Chapter 10: Personality Traits and Epistemic Dispositions and Virtues
Chapter 11: Identity Formation and the Narrative Process of Self-Authorship
Part IV: The Challenges and Opportunities for Higher Education
Chapter 12: Restoring our Shared Commitment to Rationalism
Chapter 13: Promoting the Development of a Rational Mind-Set and a Rationalist Identity
Thompson outlines how American culture has abandoned reason, evidence, and critical thought and instead embraced emotion and personal belief as the source of knowledge. In a text that points to questions such as "Is truth irrelevant? If so, how did we get to this point?" the author successfully details the dynamics underlying that vague and complex construct called truth…. Recommended. Graduate students and faculty.