“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’ ”
~ Isaac Asimov
Thomas Carlyle once said that “Democracy prevails when men believe the vote of Judas as good as that of Jesus Christ.” Although most Americans would not like to admit this implication, which is present in all egalitarian systems, Carlyle’s words do capture the spirit of the democratic mind.
We fear distinctions between men. We cannot speak of them. Even to mention a distinction so obvious as race is an impropriety, not to mention the more invisible distinctions that are far more important. So afraid are we of offending the doctrine of equality—of implying that one man might actually be better, wiser, more virtuous than his neighbor—that we cannot bring ourselves to make any distinctions, however glaringly obvious they may be.
This ridiculous assumption of equality has been expressed even by aristocrats like Thomas Jefferson, who said in a letter to Peter Carr:
“State a moral case to a ploughman and a professor. The former will decide it as well, and often better than the latter, because he has not been led astray by artificial rules.”
Well…we have now been taking our moral questions to ‘the ploughman’ for generations, ever since Jefferson made the recommendation, and the truth has become evident: the professor may be prone to artificial rules, but the ploughman has no rules at all and must be led by stark prejudice, anecdote, external influence, or, more commonly, fear.
Thanks to our insistence on taking every question before the general public, we now have to publicly debate what a human being is and isn’t, whether male and female sexes are real or artificial, whether torturing our enemies is becoming of a civilized nation (the denser ploughman can’t even seem to figure out what torture even is).
The unpleasant truth is that, if you must take a vote, then the votes ought to be weighed rather than counted, because it is plainly false that all ballots are of equal value. Some are worth a great deal; some are worth nothing at all.
 Isaac Asimov, “A Cult of Ignorance”, Newsweek, 21 January 1980.