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Agnotology

Posted By Barry Ritholtz On January 21, 2009 @ 2:30 pm In Psychology,Really, really bad calls,Science,UnScience | Comments Disabled

Fascinating discussion via Wired [1]‘s Clive Thompson, and Stanford historian of science Robert Proctor, on Agnotology:

“When it comes to many contentious subjects, our usual relationship to information is reversed: Ignorance increases.

[Proctor] has developed a word inspired by this trend: agnotology. Derived from the Greek root agnosis, it is “the study of culturally constructed ignorance.”

As Proctor argues, when society doesn’t know something, it’s often because special interests work hard to create confusion. Anti-Obama groups likely spent millions insisting he’s a Muslim; church groups have shelled out even more pushing creationism. The oil and auto industries carefully seed doubt about the causes of global warming. And when the dust settles, society knows less than it did before.

“People always assume that if someone doesn’t know something, it’s because they haven’t paid attention or haven’t yet figured it out,” Proctor says. “But ignorance also comes from people literally suppressing truth—or drowning it out—or trying to make it so confusing that people stop caring about what’s true and what’s not.”  (emphasis added)

Fairly amazing, and when it comes to certain issues, its dead on.

What an awesome definition:

Agnotology: Culturally constructed ignorance, purposefully created by special interest groups working hard to create confusion and suppress the truth.

>

Source:
How More Info Leads to Less Knowledge [1]
Clive Thompson
WIRED MAGAZINE: 17.02TECH BIZ

http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/17-02/st_thompson


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[1] Wired: http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/17-02/st_thompson

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