Intelligent Ignorance

The following two definitions are courtesy of dictionary.reference.com.

in·tel·li·gence

[in-tel-i-juhns]

noun

1.

capacity for learning, reasoning,understanding, and similar forms of mentalactivity; aptitude in grasping truths,relationships, facts, meanings, etc.
2.

manifestation of a high mental capacity: Hewrites with intelligence and wit.
3.

the faculty of understanding.
4.

knowledge of an event, circumstance, etc.,received or imparted; news; information.
5.

the gathering or distribution of information,especially secret information.

ig·no·rance

[ig-ner-uhns]  Show IPA

noun

the state or fact of being ignorant;  lack ofknowledge, learning, information, etc.
The title of this post seems to be a contradiction in terms, if not an oxy-moron of sorts.  The basic premise is this: It seems to me that a lot of individuals have access to a wealth of information without the ability to determine truth, reality, heresy, lies, and deceit.
We are the most educated society ever, but we have not kept up with the speed at which information is available to us.  When I was teaching high school I was amazed at how students would conduct a google search only to have one of two things happen, 1- they couldn’t find what they were looking for because they didn’t understand how to use keywords (a function of language development primarily through higher levels of reading which our school systems are hurting to attain), or 2 – they would find an article, news report, website, etc… that they would take as truth without verifying the validity of the information given (they didn’t understand what to look for such as credentials of the author, what level source was it {or what person in the chain of information did it come from – first, second, third, etc…}, or when it was written).
Just how much do we as a society take for truth that isn’t?  I am willing to bet that it is an astronomical percent, probably around 85%.  Take a moment to do some introspection.  Where do you get your information from?  For example, how did you form your opinion about the justification for the war in Iraq?  The unbiased news (note the sarcasm here)? Did you read Newsweek or some other journalistic paper/magazine? From talking with friends and family? Do you have a presupposition that if our president says we need to go to war then you instantly back “America”?
What about now? Hindsight is 20/20, right? Not if you still have false information to see through.  If your opinion about the war in Iraq is based on any of what I listed above then it is illogically founded.  I am sorry, but that is reality.  I would recommend reading Fiasco, Decision Points, and this report by the Congressional Research Service and Library of Congress.  Collin Powell’s autobiography has some details on the topic as well that offer a different perspective from a trusted and reliable source.  Then once you have read all of that I will concede to your opinion of the war (and don’t assume that you know mine just because I was deployed over there – I am not going to tell you mine).
So the next time you want to tell someone how wrong they are, or you start forming an opinion about a key topic (think religion, politics, and Jeopardy knowledge) then take a moment to consider where you are getting the “facts” that you are remembering.  8 out of 10 times I bet you will not come up with the source for your knowledge and if you do that it will be obscure for where you got it from.  Now think about the fact that all of society is operating on this sense of knowledge and be afraid.  Be very afraid.  Key decisions are being made constantly based on fuzzy knowledge in our intelligent idiotic society.
Keith
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4 thoughts on “Intelligent Ignorance

  1. Beth G says:

    Another great topic for discussion. Research is vital to all areas of life (something I’ve tried hard to teach my 18yo) but getting information from reliable and trusted sources is key when processing that information to make a decision or forming an opinion. One thing that trips me up sometimes is acting on that information in key areas of my life.

  2. Keith Wadley says:

    I have seen three former students this week. Only one I would say is on his way to achieving personal success based on goals he set for himself. He has a little girl, but the mother and him are not together and not getting along apparently. The other one is trying to get ahead and is doing what he can, but is one of those late learners who is still not getting the point (he just got another girl pregnant) and is not with either of them now. At least he is working and going to Miller Motte now. Then there was the girl at Walmart who I didn’t have as a student but who I recognized from the hallways and some of her friends. She was with a guy shopping. She pretty much looked the same so I can’t say anything there.

    The point is that you can speak whatever truth you want to into your child’s life but it is up to them to do something with it. My sister and I are great examples of being raised in the same home but turning out completely different. That is life. Those are choices.

    It appears natural to have trouble acting on valid information, especially when it contradicts how we feel. Our intuition is hard to overcome based on logic and reasoning alone.

    Thanks for reading and posting.

    Keith

  3. Ma K says:

    Keith,

    You are absolutely right about this. I read this post a few days ago, and have actually seen this in action through Facebook of all things. So many people believe things without doing any proper investigation or research to make sure they have the facts. That is true in theology about what we believe to be true or not true about God, or the Bible. So many people say there are contradictions in the Bible, because they have heard there are, but if you ask them where the contradictions are, they have no clue. They have not read it themselves. Their opinion is what they have heard, and therefore they believe it to be true. Our American history has been rewritten to take out the facts about our Christian heritage and our Christian forefathers, and so many people believe what they have been told without researching the truth and the facts. It is always a good idea to examine why we believe what we do, and make sure it is based on truth and facts, and not simply on what we have heard from others.

    Keep writing!

    • Keith Wadley says:

      Another area of concern is marketing. National marketing campaigns are notorious for spinning their product into something it is not. A great example is in the syrup section at the grocery store. Next time you are there look at the ones that try to pass off as all natural or have natural labeling/colors in order to sway you into thinking their product will be closer to 100% pure maple. My favorite thing to look for are the ones that say “No High Fructose Corn Syrup” and then in their ingredients they have “Corn Syrup”. Hey, but it isn’t “High Fructose”. I emailed one of the companies about it because I didn’t follow through with reading the ingredients.

      Thanks for reading and posting.

      Keith

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