Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance by Robert N. Proctor

By Robert N. Proctor

What do not we all know, and why do not we all know it? What retains lack of understanding alive, or permits it for use as a political device? Agnotology—the research of ignorance—provides a brand new theoretical point of view to increase conventional questions on ''how we know'' to invite: Why do not we all know what we do not recognize? The essays assembled in Agnotology exhibit that lack of information is usually greater than simply a scarcity of data; it will probably even be the end result of cultural and political struggles. lack of information has a background and a political geography, yet there also are issues humans don't need you to grasp (''Doubt is our product'' is the tobacco slogan). person chapters deal with examples from the geographical regions of worldwide weather swap, army secrecy, woman orgasm, environmental denialism, local American paleontology, theoretical archaeology, racial lack of know-how, and extra. The target of this quantity is to higher know the way and why numerous sorts of figuring out don't end up, or have disappeared, or became invisible.

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Crucial also is: ignorance for w h o m ? and against w h o m ? Ignorance has a history and is a l w a y s unevenly distributed; the g e o g r a p h y of ignorance has mountains and valleys. W h o is ignorant and why, and to w h a t extent? H o w can w e develop better agnometric indicators? W h a t keeps ignorance in one place, w h i l e it evaporates in some other? A n d w h i c h a m o n g our myriad ignorances will be tolerated or c o m b a t e d ? M a n y of these same questions can be asked a b o u t k n o w l e d g e since, like ignorance, it occupies space and takes us d o w n one path rather than another.

H o w else is it created, via w h a t other kinds of inat­ tention, disinterest, calculation, resistance, tradition, or distraction? A n d when does knowledge create ignorance? Wes Jackson has called the modern university " a n engine of distraction"; h o w does pursuit of certain kinds of k n o w l e d g e produce such "distractions"? Is ivory t o w e r reclusion re­ quired for certain kinds of k n o w l e d g e production? H o w do disinterests and apathies c o m e into being, and w h a t patterns of competence or dis­ ability are thereby brought into being?

In the spirit of scholarly h a r m o n y we decided to rechristen o u r neologism agnotology, recognizing that while the meanings of w o r d s lie only in their use, their use can also depend on h o w and for w h a t ends they are created. S O M E F A M O U S Q U O T A T I O N S Real knowledge is to A B O U T I G N O R A N C E know the extent of one's ignorance. Confucius ( 5 5 1 B C - 4 7 9 B C ) The loss which is unknown is no loss at all. Publilius Syrus, Maxims (c. 100 B C ) To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.

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