A few weeks ago I discovered Miley Cyrus’s new album. It is shitty pop music, but it is raw and emotional. And, to be honest, it reminded me of the music of the late 90s. The nostalgia of the sound of Miley’s album immediately brought me back to my emotionally-stunted home-schooled youth. It is a terrible album, terrible but terrible in a great way.

If something hits me emotionally, I usually  take it straight to Facebook. So I took a screenshot of the album cover and posted it with the comment “this surprisingly does not suck.” This led to my editors at the Typescript getting into a bit of a tiff in the comments section over what qualifies as music or art. Ten minutes and 3,000 posts later. I was on the phone telling a friend “God, I hate pretentious people.”

Those of us who live in the ivory tower of academia, and who are trained to think critically about everything from politics to music can often come off as pretentious. Especially to people who are just enjoying the superficial aspects of entertainment. This has a tendency to turn-off some of our less critically-inclined friends, but it is not all together dangerous.

However, in America at the moment we are facing not only the pandemic of the novel coronavirus, but an epidemic of anti-intellectualism. It isn’t just that a lot of people don’t want to listen to a more nuanced opinion on music or politics, they regard nuanced arguments and the people who makes them as enemies of America, the people, and freedom.

Essentially, we in Academia have become boogeymen to people who are either incapable of critical thinking or are afraid of the conclusions that it might lead to. On the podcast Behind the Bastards Robert Evans said it best: “The reason that conspiracy theories are so popular is because they offer solutions to problems that allow people to address everything but the uncomfortable truth.”

Right now we are facing increasing unemployment, COVID-19 related deaths, and increased income inequality. The reason that we are facing all of these problems is because we, both politicians and the white middle- and working-class voting bloc, mindlessly serve the corporate class.

American’s don’t want to admit that they are the cause of those problems right now. So they turned to the treasure-trove of misinformation and conspiracy that is the World Wide Web. There, any number of conspiracy theorists will explain how – and produce ‘evidence’ of how – “global elites” are subverting the will of the white-working class, and driving it closer and closer to slavery. In other words, the conspiracies that are turning the American public against intellectuals are growing in popularity because Americans don’t want to admit they are the problem.

We know that much of what the Internet has to offer is bullshit. We know that all the conspiracies about the Rockefellers, Bill Gates, the Federal Reserve, and the N.W.O are nothing more than antisemitic lies. We have actual evidence to back that up. But that evidence is ignored, and it will continue to be ignored.

We need to think about two things. First, in our discussions with ‘conspiracy theory curious’ people we should be neither matter-of-fact nor condescending. This may only act to strengthen their curiosity and build a sense of paranoia about intellectuals. In other words, we should do what we can to not push them over the edge.

Secondly, when people have gone full ‘Q’ and believe in their heart of hearts that there is a secret elite, (i.e. Jewish Cabal) that is out to destroy America and freedom. do not engage. We should change the subject if we can, and if they go to far down the rabbit hole, cut them off. Every argument and discussion of the subject only breathes life into their delusions.

Anti-intellectualism and paranoia are the biggest threats to America right now. We have to do our part to destroy it. Sometimes the best thing to do is… nothing.

The evidence of the ‘truth’ will continue to be ignored because these conspiracy theories are so stupid and frustrating that we often treat their adherents as idiots rather than as normal people who just got duped. Who is to blame? Perhaps mostly late-stage capitalism and social structures that have created a pandemic of paranoia.