I will soon publish a series of articles on climate change and its impacts on the incidence and prevalence of asthma and respiratory allergies in the Greater Sacramento Region and elsewhere.
In doing research for those articles, I was struck by the general apparent cultural ignorance about climate change, and the role of humans in causing climate change.
So I now first publish on induced cultural ignorance.
A generally interesting subject.
According to Wikipedia, ” ‘agnotology’ is the study of culturally induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data.
The neologism was coined by Robert N. Proctor, a Stanford University professor specializing in the history of science and technology.
Its name derives from the Neoclassical Greek word ἄγνωσις, agnōsis, “not knowing” (confer Attic Greek ἄγνωτος “unknown”), and -λογία, -logia..
More generally, the term also highlights the increasingly common condition where more knowledge of a subject leaves one more uncertain than before.
Some causes of culturally induced ignorance are media neglect, corporate or governmental secrecy and suppression, document destruction, and myriad forms of inherent or avoidable culturopolitical selectivity, inattention, and forgetfulness.”
Agnotology is the subject of a recent article written by Georgina Kenyon and published by the BBC.
One of her conclusions is that “ignorance can often be propagated under the guise of balanced debate.
For example, the common idea that there will always be two opposing views does not always result in a rational conclusion…This ‘balance routine’ has allowed…creating a false picture of the truth, hence ignorance.”
From my agnotology study, it appears that culturally induced ignorance or doubt today in the US is often intentionally done to persuade. To get people to reach false conclusions based in intentionally induced ignorance.
I believe culturally induced ignorance identified in agnotology research is of course harmful across essentially all domains in our society.
I can’t imagine an upside to induction of societal ignorance that effectively persuades people, communities, states, and our nation.
What to do?
I believe that we need to directly confront culturally induced ignorance.
I offer a sequence for such efforts.
- Step 1. Recognition. Begin by recognizing that efforts to induce cultural ignorance in an effort to persuade is essentially everywhere.
This means we need to start every inquiry with the recognition that what we see read or hear in mass media formats likely includes some level of effort to induce cultural ignorance.
- Step 2. Identification. Next, precisely identify the issue you are reviewing.
A crisp identification of exactly what is being reviewed will assist in the following investigative work. Part of this identification problems includes determination what is not going to be reviewed.
- Step 3. Investigation. Further, utilize an array of tools to investigate the identified issue(s).
Here, the internet and its amazing search and investigation tools is a starting point, and very powerful resource. This investigation will include extensive reading and review of the source materials. My online research on agnotology took me right to one of the original articles on the subject.
- Step 4. Conclusions. Draw conclusions from the investigation. Lay out what your research leads you to conclude.
Preparing a summary or articulating your results can be a powerful check on your reasoning.
- Step 5. Repeat Steps 1 – 4.
Information will change. It is important after reaching conclusions, to repeat Steps 1 – 4, and challenge those conclusions in light of new information and inputs.
Coming next, climate change and asthma and respiratory allergies. Those articles will refer to this this five-step analytical framework.