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The ongoing ignorance about ignorance

by Greg Krehbiel on 12 January 2018

I was hoping for better from Science Says That To Fight Ignorance, We Must Start By Admitting Our Own.

The article makes a good point — that humility goes a long way — but IMO it misses the most important thing.

… we’ve found ourselves in a strange position in which people who know almost nothing about difficult and complicated subjects are righteous in their rejection of others who have spent years studying those very same fields.

Yes. But why? Why are people so ready to reject what experts say? That’s what seems to escape all these hand-wringers, and I find it very telling.

People should admit their own ignorance, of course. But it’s far more important that they admit their own bias.

Someone who has “spent years studying those very same fields” might simply be brainwashed. Full of ideology. Shown only one side of the coin.

This should be obvious to anybody who’s paying attention. If, for example, you meet somebody who has “spent years studying” women’s studies, you figure that person knows a lot of stuff, but from a very biased point of view. They’ve been baptized in it, steeped in it, and their wool has the dye all the way through.

Every thinking person knows this is true of “women’s studies” and similar disciplines, but the problem is that other disciplines are starting to look the same way. Some ideas are forbidden. They’re shamed. They’re shouted down. There’s right-think and there’s wrong-think.

Your average guy on the street sees evidence of this all the time, so the fact that somebody has “studied something for years” might only mean, “Oh, then you’re really opinionated, aren’t you?”

The more these disciplines scream and yell about “denialism” and other silly, made-up concepts, the more they are creating the very climate that causes this doubt.

Fewer people would doubt the story on climate change if the climate change community wasn’t so full of extremist, intolerant twits.

When reasonable questions are met with anger, hysteria, name-calling and campaigns to silence the opposition, this reinforces the “righteous rejection” of the opinions of people who have spent years “studying” those fields. What it says is, “Oh, you climate change people are just like the women’s studies department. I’ve seen your type before.”

That is the problem.

Scientists need to take a clue from Princess Leia. “The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.” And the more scientists act like offended little 6th graders when their views aren’t accepted, more of the public will slip through their fingers.

2018-01-12  »  Greg Krehbiel

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