Robert Wright

Robert Wright is a fellow at the New America Foundation and the author, most recently, of The Evolution of God.

Recent Articles

Beyond Intellectualism

On becoming an anti-intellectual intellectual

I spent much of high school trying not to be interested in ideas. I studied hard and made good grades, but I didn't hang out with the nerds. This was partly because hanging out with nerds wasn't cool and partly because the kind of intellectualism they exuded didn't enthrall me. They talked about Camus and Sartre and Nietzsche -- people I hadn't heard much about in my life as an Army brat and people my mildly anti-intellectual father would have disdained had anyone explained to him who they were. Then my sister's husband (an aspiring psychologist whose preference for graduate school over employment my father wasn't wild about) suggested I read Beyond Freedom and Dignity by B.F. Skinner. As intellectuals go, Skinner was pretty dismissive of intellectuals -- at least the ones who blathered unproductively about "freedom" and "dignity," the ones he considered insufficiently hard-nosed and scientific. Look, he said, people are animals. Kind of like laboratory rats, except taller. Their...