Us vs. Them and the paradox of education – The Boston Globe

by | Aug 4, 2022 | Education

AdvertisementIn fact, scholars have found that highly educated Americans are central to the political polarization that is fracturing our country. They are less likely than the average American to communicate with people who don’t share their views and more likely to view their political adversaries with hostility. Their views are often inaccurate and their political reasoning is often poor — precisely the characteristics that education is supposed to counteract.Get Weekend Reads from IdeasA weekly newsletter from the Boston Globe Ideas section, forged at the intersection of ‘what if’ and ‘why not.’What is going on? And what can we do about it?Sorting ourselves into silosThanks to increased mobility and the revolution wrought by electronic communication, Americans have increasingly sorted ourselves into geographic and online communities of people who share our lifestyles, values, and political beliefs. The highly educated have done so with particular vigor, clustering tightly around just a few urban centers, like Boston and San Francisco. One result is that highly educated Americans are less likely than others to communicate with people who disagree with them.In addition, scholars have long known that ideological thinking increases with education: The highly educated are more likely than others to hold consistently liberal or consistently conservative views across a wide range of issues. Even in the middle of the 20th century, when few Americans held an ideologically consistent set of political beliefs, the highly educated often did.AdvertisementHowever, there were fewer of them then. Less than 10 percent of Americans held a college degree in the early 1960s. More than a third do today. So it is not surprising that there are more ideological Americans than there were a half a century ago. What is surprising is that the college educated have become more ideological over time. Between the 1980s and the early 2000s, ideological thinking barely rose among Americans …

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