One of the ways one does well at school is to pick up on the intellectual fashions of one’s teachers. This happens at both the individual level, where students circulate advice like “Make sure you work dibble sticks into your answer on anything about agriculture. He loves dibble sticks” as well as the more general fashions of what points of view can be expected to go down pretty well. Such students are usually equally good at discerning the intellectual fashions of their own generation and those slightly older. It is therefore not surprising that it is our elite institutions who have so many students who appear unable to reason. Most of them can reason quite well – they just don’t apply that as their first or preferred solution. They go with their strong suit, the one that has carried the day for them to get into these schools. It works with some instructors and authorities; it works with more peers; and if it doesn’t work, there an excuse to hand that it is the fault of others who just don’t get it.
It works at the next level, of those who go on to teach at these schools as well. If professors and peers reward and admire strong, careful work, that is what will be carried to the next generation. If lesser virtues are rewarded, lesser virtues are what will endure. CS Lewis noted that we can only bequeath what we first have.