By Robert N. Proctor
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Additional info for Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance
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.