In any bookstore or library you can find the subject area of “popular science”. No bookstore or library has a subject area of “popular intellectualism” or anything similar. That absence explains all I find dishonest and vacuous about the modern intelligentsia.
No human endeavor requires more insight, creativity and sheer mental horsepower than science. The greatest minds mankind ever produced struggle for decades to uncover tiny slivers of incomplete truth. The sheer detail involved in the smallest scientific endeavor startles the uninitiated. Grueling math dominates. Scientists invent detailed and novel jargons to label and communicate their work. Learning even the basic nomenclature often takes years.
Yet, more than anything, scientists prize those rare individuals who can take all those concepts of great complexity and precision and distill them down to simple explanations that a lay person can understand. Most scientists trace their love of science to such works. Popular science exists as a category of media because scientists seek to expand the circle of those who know. Science represents the antithesis of the occult, the hidden. Everyone must know.
The category of “popular intellectualism” does not exist because the subculture of the intelligentsia seeks to hide and confuse information. The intelligentsia draws its sense of self-worth from its self-perceived superiority to non-intelligentsia. That sense of superiority in turn relies on their belief that they possess knowledge that others do not. Sharing their knowledge destroys their claims to superiority.
The physicist Richard Feynman famously once said that if a person really understood a subject, they could explain it to anyone. The intelligentsia claims that the obtuse nature of their discourse arises from their superior intellects grappling with concepts lesser intellects simply cannot grasp. Yet, is it not odd that individuals like Feynman or Hawking can explain great matters of quantum physics and cosmology but no living person can provide an agreed upon definition of “postmodernism”? The sad truth is that the discourse of the modern intelligentsia looks like gibberish because it is gibberish.
The emperor has no clothes.
Although a few individuals rise above the herd, as a subculture, the intelligentsia represents a parasitic class of vacuous bullies. They use their skills at articulation and argumentation to confuse and dominate. If questioned too closely they claim that the inferiority of the questioner prevents him from understanding the intellectuals’ brilliance. Unlike scientists, they dare not distill the ether of their ideas into something concrete.
They deserve no respect.