Culture of Ignorance

“I just happen to like apples, and I’m not afraid of snakes.”  – Ani DiFranco

One thing that I’ve never understood is the desire to remain ignorant.

The notion of information or knowledge being dangerous just seems laughable to me.    You are not actually hurt by an idea.   You may have to wrap your head around new thoughts, you may need to revise your viewpoint of the world.   But the ultimate notion of learning things that are “forbidden” is foreign to me.   All you are doing is giving yourself a broader, more nuanced view of the world.

The worst thing that knowledge can do to you is make you uncomfortable.

Some ideas are at odds with each other.   This is the source of discomfort for many people.   This is because some ideas inherently have more merit than others… and of course some ideas may seem at odds with each other but may be unrelated and exclusive.     People also live with differing levels of cognitive dissonance every day:  if you ask a parent who doesn’t vaccinate their children why not, they will likely tell you that they don’t want their children to get sick.   (Irony, anyone?)

It is also okay if people know more than you.   Trying to convince someone that you know about something you don’t isn’t going to make you look better in the long run.   All it will do is make you seem insecure.    I love finding people who know more than I do.   It is so much fun to explore new ideas and to learn something outside my experience.

Here is the kicker for me:   some people do not want you to seek out other ideas.   The reason for this is that they may not feel secure in their own ideas, and need to try to foster their own faulty (although often comforting) ideas in an atmosphere of ignorance.   ANYONE who tries to control who you talk to, what you read, or what to think is trying to control you for their own sakes.   Any person or organization who cuts off discussion like this is controlling at best, and maliciously abusive at worst.     I have literally lost family members because of this kind of abuse, and I find it abhorrent.

This is part of why I teach.

I want people to be able to explore ideas freely.

I want people to be able to think for themselves, and make up their minds independently.

I want people to value knowledge over ignorance.



Okay, just to warn you, I’m going to get a little rant out of my system:


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Stupid should hurtOne thing that really pisses me off is when people deliberately cloak themselves in ignorance.    The notion of “what I don’t know won’t hurt me” is probably something that was popular on Easter Island.    Denying information doesn’t change it.   All it does is move you from the category of naive to stupid.   At best it is intellectually dishonest.

Now I don’t have anything against faith.   We all have unjustified beliefs about one thing or another.   But here are my criteria:   belief in something without proof is faith, belief in something with proof is knowledge, and belief in something in contradiction to proof is stupidity.

I got MAJORLY pissed off at the supreme court Hobby Lobby decision last week.   They elevated one groups religious opinions over scientific facts, and let the religious  belief trump the rights of others.   I feel like we have our Plessy vs Ferguson court decision for our generation.

Know any nice, liberal countries in need of a kick-ass math professor?   I’m starting to shop.

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Be well, everyone.

And remember to use your powers for whatever you want to.   They’re your powers!

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