Anti-austerity protest in Spain; Dominique Faget AFP/Getty Image 

Perhaps it is one of the less obvious consequences of the credentialism which is the bane of our era that even quite ordinary people seem to have been persuaded that, in order to be taken seriously, they must think and talk and write like intellectuals. Every self-respecting media commentator, for example, now approaches the news as the Doctor in Alban Berg’s opera Wozzeck does the symptoms of his eponymous patient: as redundant confirmation of his pre-conceived diagnosis. “Oh! meine Theorie!” he cries triumphantly. Nor, in the present case, is it just the media pundit’s own intellectual vanity to which we owe his theory....


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