In his article, “The ‘Intellectual Frogleg’ Is a Dangerous Label,” The New York Times’ Jonathan Chait argues that labeling intellectuals “intellectual frogs” is a bad idea because it “ignores the reality of their existence.”
He says the term “intellect” implies “an intellectual bent” and “a deep and profound understanding of the world.”
In his piece, Chait writes: … intellectual frogs are not only a danger to the very existence of the scientific community, they are also an embarrassment to the public, which is supposed to be a place where truth and the common good are shared.
And yet the term is used to silence the voices of those who dare to challenge the orthodoxy of the academy, the elite of the sciences, or those who are openly skeptical about it.
That the term has become so widespread is unsurprising given that it’s a reference to the highly-regarded intellectual elite, whose members are supposed to know what they’re talking about.
That it has become such a common, widely used, and widely misunderstood term is especially galling given that academic scientists and their colleagues are among the best in the world at articulating scientific truth.
Chait’s piece is worth reading for its frank admission of intellectual froglege.
But the most troubling part of Chaits piece is his claim that labeling people “intelligentsia” is somehow “dangerous” because “it ignores the reality that these people exist.”
In short, he says, labeling people as “intelligent” and thus “intensifying” their concerns, “will not help anyone, no matter how much they think it helps them.”
But if the goal of intellectualizing science is to advance the truth, then intellectualizing those who disagree with you, whether or not they are correct, is clearly not the best way to achieve that goal.
To put it another way, if you want to improve science, you need to understand its sources, how it works, and how to improve its applications.
That’s what Chait and the rest of the intellectual elite are all too willing to do in their efforts to advance their ideological agenda.
For example, Chashait has a long history of claiming that “most people” believe the climate change hoax.
But, as we’ve seen, his “facts” about climate change have never been backed up by any empirical research.
Similarly, Chatham House’s “Intellectuals” section contains numerous articles and books about the intellectual establishment and its elite, such as Charles Darwin, Charles Darwin’s grandson, the late Robert McNaughton, and the late British philosopher Sir Charles Lyell.
But in many cases, the people who write those books or articles about intellectual elites have no scientific training whatsoever.
These people, Chace explains, “have no scientific expertise.”
And Chait says, “If you’re a writer, you know that no matter what the profession, the school, the university, the organization, the government, or the president of a country, the vast majority of people are ignorant of the basic science of physics.”
So when you’re writing an article about how “intelligence” is used in the scientific elite’s intellectual world, you are implicitly acknowledging that your audience, readers, and listeners are ignorant as well.
But there’s one other thing you might not have considered, and that is that intellectual froglings are just as much a threat to the truth as the people they are ostensibly trying to convince.
The intellectual frogling myth is not just about people being ignorant about scientific truth, it’s also about people’s beliefs being based on the lie of a man-made climate change myth that is, in the words of the late sociologist Christopher Lasch, “misconstrued and misrepresented.”
But Chait seems to have forgotten this.
If Chait thinks intellectual frogglings are the only problem with intellectualizing, then he needs to go back and read a bit of historical perspective on intellectualizing.
When the historian and political philosopher David Hume wrote about the rise of the idea of the “intrinsic intellectual” in the 17th century, he did so in the context of a society that was already experiencing a great deal of intellectual decline.
But he also noted that “the idea of a single individual as the sole and ultimate judge of truth and value was not new in the period of its rise, and, to a considerable extent, it had become a staple of the discourse of the Enlightenment.”
Chait is so eager to assert that intellectualizing the “truth” is dangerous that he is even willing to take on the mantle of intellectual frogs, as if that is a threat he doesn’t recognize.
So what is the problem?
What is the truth about the “hidden truths” of science and the world?
Well, as Chait tells it, it is that “intractable and fundamental question of what is truth and what is not.”
In other words,