According to Wiktionary, a pseudo-intellectual is:
- A person who affects proficiency in scholarly and artistic pursuits whilst lacking any in-depth knowledge or critical understanding of such topics.
- A person who pretends to be of greater intelligence than he or she in fact is.
Usage is fraught, and pseudointellectual may be used as a general term of abuse for intellectuals one dislikes or disagrees with. Nevertheless, in more careful use a rather clear distinction is drawn: A pseudointellectual is someone dishonestly or insincerely using the language, style, or topics of an intellectual, but who lacks the goals, morals, or ability of a “genuine” intellectual. It is someone who acts pretentiously and wishes to win an argument or impress, rather than modestly trying to find the truth – a focus on surface and rhetoric over content. These often involve a superficial understanding of a subject and condescension to the audience, as well as possible self-delusion (not being consciously dishonest, but rather sincerely thinking oneself to be behaving as a genuine intellectual despite one’s incompetence).
According to my own definition, a pseudo-intellectual is:
- A person who thinks s/he is intelligent only because s/he managed to graduate from college and obtain a degree. This makes them feel superior to others even when they are naturally dumb.
Generally, these types tend to be either somewhat educated or overly so, but typically they aren’t. They may have a college degree even but college degrees do not equal intelligence particularly since many colleges will let you in with a low SAT or ACT score – this is especially true of the HBCUs. I have dealt with people who have BA and BS degrees (what I call Bum Ass and Bull Shit), as well as Master’s degrees, and they are no smarter than those with an Associate’s or High School diploma, they just pretend they are, or think they are, simply because they graduated from college.
Many people need to prove something to others because they lack either self-esteem, clear-cut goals, or natural intelligence. It is a pitiful fact of life that African Americans are not a naturally intelligent group of people and their behavior sheds light on that, especially since they regularly engage in violent actions such as drug dealing, drive by shootings, and have elevated hip hop to the status of jazz and blues, which it is not and never will, in my opinion. I hate that disgusting, ignorant culture.
We Blacks are very confrontational, impolite, lazy, prone to arguments and fighting, and most of all, divided as a people. I am grateful that I am not a typical Angry Black Woman with a low IQ to do with the temperament, and I am happy to confess that I don’t speak Ebonics – I don’t really sound Black and am glad I don’t. In fact, a lot of Blacks have told me that I sound ‘country’ or ‘Yankee’, depending, That just means I do not sound Black.
But I digress – a little.
I have a relative who served in the Air Force – but he never became a pilot nor saw combat – and attended an HBCU, where he had to retake a few courses because he had not received a passing grade. He almost made it through police academy yet a month or so before he was to graduate, he was caught driving with an open container of alcohol and given a DUI, for which he was convicted despite paying a lawyer around $1500 to defend him (the lawyer had his own DUI). He had been warned by his instructors in police academy that if any of the students would be caught drinking and driving, it would mean an automatic expulsion so he knew what he was getting into before he went off and did something so idiotic. This relative went back to university and got his Master’s. However, he goes from temp job to temp job, still drinking and blaming that state trooper who pulled his dumb ass over, even though all that he’s put himself through is his own damn fault. He is also a pseudo intellectual of the highest order. He’d rather play the phony scholar than obtain employment and he also feels that just because he served in the military and has a higher education, that the world owes him something.
This is a guy who, as a child, went around playing in the hair of the little Caucasian girls so much that the teacher had to call his mother about; who was teased severely on the school bus, called every name from Liver Lips to Coffee Cooler Lips, among others; and who did not attend his own HS prom or graduation because he couldn’t get a date for the former, and I guess he felt he would be booed during the latter. He did not attend his post-HS graduations either. He is all the time speaking about hurting or killing people, drinks and then tries to hide the alcohol aroma by gulping coffee even when it is not very cold out, and hangs out with homeless men in a local park rather than try to get his act together and obtain a job so he can stop living off of his pothead aunt and know-it-all grandmother.
I get sick of his phony intellectualism because he tries to talk and write as if he has studied much about the subject at hand, when in fact he’s Googled it and read the first link or 2 that popped up. This is what I mean when I write that people with degrees think they know something because they managed to graduate and get that almighty degree. His degrees – and military service – will get him nowhere unless he comes off his high horse and stops acting like he’s the scholar and everyone else is an airhead. I guess when you grow up in a dysfunctional household the way he did, sharing a bed with grandma till a teenager, being picked on, and having parents who both drank like fish (and a sperm donor who pretty much abandoned him as a baby, yet was there – in presence only -for his other children), you have issues and a need to profess to the world at large that you are indeed a very smart, important, and secure individual.
Pseudo intellectuals are all this way, even though they may not have the same background as this relative. I should know, because I dated a guy before who was pretty much the same way. I do not pretend to be something I am not. What’s the point? You either are or you aren’t.