Roger Olson on Americans Wanting Demagogues

Unfortunately, in contemporary American culture, moderates and humble thinkers don’t get much attention. We gravitate toward demagogues. I see it as a result of American culture’s general and increasing anti-intellectualism and love of celebrities.

We want people who seem to know everything and being totally certain of all that they claim to know and never say “Well, I just don’t know.” As soon as a scholar, expert, thinker, pastor, theologian, philosopher, politician, whatever, says “Well, I just don’t know” people change the channel and find someone who appears to know everything they talk about with absolute certainty.

I’ve been interviewed numerous times by numerous people and can always hear a note of disappointment in their voices or see it on their faces (if I can see them) when I say “Well, I just don’t know.”

–Roger Olson


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