Fact Versus Fiction Snobbery
This is a corollary to, or even an explanation of, my last post. Throughout my education, I was used to being in the top three of the class, and very often I was the best. So, as you can imagine, I loved school and I loved exams because I knew that I would always be amongst the winners, the ones praised.
Not that I realised that at the time. My school chose me to sit the entrance examination to the elite schools of the Atlantic College and Oxford – the only one out of hundreds of boys.
It was much later that I realised that the only reason that I was so successful in academia was because I could retain facts; and only later again, did it dawn on me, that these ‘facts’ were being thrust into my memory without any verification.
In a way, I was being used as a receptacle for the Establishment’s version of events, of reality. And I was a keen collaborator, because I enjoyed the praise, something that was not common in Welsh families of my day.
It was in university that my eyes started to open, and I began to see university lecturers as people just like me, people who had been filled up with the official account of the world, and they were filling me up with it too, so that I could take over from them later.
I saw intellectual snobbery everywhere.
‘Oh, you read that?!’
‘Oh, you have never seen this film?!’
‘How quaint, but I don’t suppose you get much opportunity in South Wales?’
One day, I saw something that I should have seen fifteen years before: none of my teachers of Religious Instruction had ever known anything about the Spiritualism that my family had practised for generations.
It made me think about about the other facets of my education and little of it came off well. My beloved languages, and maths fared best.
I lost a lot of respect for intellectuals very soon and then I went to work for my Dad.
He had a profound suspicion of anyone calling themselves an expert. That gelled with me and has stuck.
I have no respect for authority or experts until I deem they are worthy now, and intellectual snobbery gets right up my nose, as does any form of prejudice.
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Podcast: Fact Versus Fiction Snobbery