1. Science skepticism and denialism have been carefully engineered by large corporations and the think tanks and media that they fund in order to protect corporate profits. This has been going on for a very long time in the U.S.A., and you can read about it here: Neoliberal Science Skepticism
2. Mistrust of education is, in part, a necessary “Us vs. Them” tribalistic groupthink that rejects what is perceived to be a threat to traditional values, traditional gender roles, traditional religious knowledge, traditional support of capitalism, traditional views of “American exceptionalism,” and other sacred cows of conservative American culture. When an educational process presents information or insights that contradict, revise, or evolve these cultural assumptions in any way, that is considered heretical and worthy of being burned at the stake. But this is only part of the formula. The other part is the creation of a “socialist bogeyman” that embodies all of these “un-American” tendencies to question the status quo — conservatives will sometimes refer to this imaginary bogeyman as “cultural Marxism.” The bogeyman is mainly used to frighten conservative rank-and-file into lockstep conformance (in voting, campaign contributions, consuming the right news media, etc.) in order to constrain “the godless socialist threat.”
3. The anti-expert revolution is mainly a result of the first two influences converging with the consequences of the Internet — and social media in particular. The Internet notoriously leveled the playing field of knowledge sourcing, so that an unemployed, uneducated, emotionally stunted nerd living in his mother’s basement could achieve the same “authority” with his armchair pedantry as a degreed expert with decades of experience in that field. Add to this the many deliberate distortions of fact by trolls and professional disinformation campaigns that the Internet and especially social media afforded, and the initially obvious divide between verifiable truth and absurd conspiracy has become increasingly muddied. What at first was a noble democratization of knowledge has become a free-for-all of “alternative facts.”
4. Lastly we have the issue of American gullibility. The spectacle of U.S. commercialistic culture has conditioned many Americans to believe things they are told in advertisements, on talk shows, or by religious authorities and ideological zealots. This is how scientology came into being, how Ayn Rand came to be considered a “philosopher” which she clearly is not, how Milton Friedman hoodwinked folks into thinking crony capitalism was “libertarian,” and how utter lackwits like Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump became POTUS. Some 50% of the U.S. is addicted to being conned — being gullible rubes is just part of their cultural identity. So when a charismatic celebrity tells conservatives that climate change is a hoax, or that cigarettes don’t cause cancer, or that “freedom” means letting corporations completely control our lives, many of those Americans just desperately want to believe…to uncritically consume falsehood rather than accept responsibility for being well-informed.
My 2 cents.
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