The Ethical Imperative of Reason: How Anti-Intellectualism, Denialism, and Apathy Threaten National Security

Video – 2016 CHDS Thesis Series. Greggory Favre

This thesis explores the roots and manifestations of anti-intellectualism, denialism and apathy. Philosophical in its design, this research explores the following question: What are the potential effects of cultural anti-intellectualism on the construction and execution of national security and homeland security policy? Specifically, it focuses on how anti-intellectualism can affect how a course of action is created, presented, messaged, supported, and executed. The thesis amasses a review of previous research on the nature and manifestations of this issue and offers an account of the prospective implications for the securities field. Utilizing a case study model, this research explores three examples to highlight the manifestation of this current problem. The findings indicate that anti-intellectualism impacts the highest levels of the political, media, and security processes and, as such, requires practitioners to acknowledge and address its influence. This thesis concludes by arguing that widespread ignorance of objective reality poses a threat to the democratic process. It provides three overarching strategies designed to limit the impact of anti-intellectualism in the policy process and demonstrates that, in the intricate and dynamic matters of our nation’s security, there is an ethical imperative for ‘reason’ and factual discussion to rule the policy process.

Greggory Favre is a Captain, Special Operations & Strategic Planning, with the St. Louis Fire Department.

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Master’s theses, from homeland security students at the Naval Postgraduate School, are available in the Homeland Security Digital Library.

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