America has an odd way of making smart people stupid.
I went to a college full of people who were bright on paper. I was friends with people who were at the top of their classes, in classes chock full of smart people. Yet if you talked to these people about anything beyond their narrow field of expertise, they knew nothing. And not only did they know nothing, they had no desire to know more than nothing; even a subject of wide appeal like human nature wouldn’t get their interest. They were philistines in every area of human thought, except their own – and that too bored them. Political science majors would squint in confusion when you asked them about political philosophy, as if you had asked them how to refine uranium into fissile plutonium.
I came to college hoping to be engaged intellectually, among fellow students. I didn’t find that. People who did fancy themselves as intellectuals were awkward, weird, boring – and their conversations were about the nerdy trivia of Star Wars and video games. Screwing around with girls was far more mentally engaging – at least that drew laughs and satisfied my penis. Being curious didn’t get you any closer to an internship with Goldman Sachs or a spot at Johns Hopkins’ medical school, so it went ignored among the students.
In an intellectual sense, they were effeminate – they would only want to know something when society would reward them for it – which is the same reason why so few women opt for the thankless job of editing Wikipedia. There was no intellectual interest independent of professional gain. There was none of that masculine desire to know for knowing’s sake, like a medieval monk might have. At most, people would spout their personal feelings about something, ignore what everyone else said, and pat themselves on the back for ‘being so expressive.’
Among the intelligent in America, the chief object of study is learning to conform
You would try to figure out what other people were thinking, and parrot it accordingly. Thankfully, Orwellian campus newspapers made it easy to conform. It was hard to even find the words to dissent. When someone did dissent, you were sure to hear about it, in harsh scolding tones, with shock and anger.