The study of ignorance

I came across this article on the BBC and thought it most appropriate for this message board.

The article states that vested interests, such as the tobacco industry, will use doubt as their tool, fostering confusion and doubt to proliferate ignorance to keep their causes acceptable.

I think this is of more general interest than just a board issue. Moved to MPSIMS from ATMB.

Sheesh, we’ve already been using a suitable term for years: FUD for “fear, uncertainty, and doubt.” It’s stock-in-trade for Microsoft.

The term ‘denialism’ is also in widespread use.

But they really took that from IBM, where it had been current for decades. As they said in the 1960’s-70’s, “no purchasing manager ever got fired for recommending IBM”.

One thing that struck me was that they claimed that both parties spread ignorance, but didn’t give any example of the Dems doing it, only of Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is the ignorance spread by the Democratic party.

When you get high enough on Broderism, you don’t need any evidence of both sides doing it to convince you that both sides do it and, therefore, vote Republican.

Broderism: Not Even Once

For those interested, I recommend watching Merchants of Doubt. Many troubling industries are highlighted, and their practices include not just the sewing of doubt, but the outright deflection of blame. One good example is the tobacco industry’s deflection of blame for household fires: “it’s not the cigarettes, it’s the flammable furniture people fall asleep on,” which then resulted in upholstery filled with toxic flame retardant chemicals that have been showing up in breast milk.

The bit about the flame resistant furniture is an example of harm reduction.

e.g. “We can’t stop smokers, so let’s stop the harm they do.” And it’s not really a bad approach to public health issues. When flame retardant furniture first started, it was assumed impossible to slow down the smoking juggernaut. Times have changed and we’ve come a long way (baby!) in reducing smoking. But we still have millions of smokers. So we’ll still have thousands of upholstery fires absent fire retardant furniture.

The rest of the story about how the particular fire retardant materials got approved and then mandated is a story up there with Upton Sinclair & the slaughterhouses. Pure concentrated evil.

It’s appropriate for some issues, but in this case it was the cigarette mfrs who were pushing a solution that involved not reducing cigarette consumption - and somehow we accepted it.

I like the fact that Agnotology, “the study of wilful acts to spread confusion and deceit, usually to sell a product or win favour,” sounds a lot like the name of a US vice-president who was a master of it.

interesting article.

Given that smoking is still prevalent even after a massive campaign to adjust attitudes about smoking, I think the assumption that eliminating smoking was unreasonable was valid.

Apparently the word is “Agnotology”.
Orwell also touched on this theme in Nineteen Eighty-Four with “Newspeak” and “doublethink”. Now granted the Ministry of Truth had control over all communications, but the principle is basically the same. Controlling opinion by altering the definitions and context by which the conversation is structured in such a manner as to sow doubt, discontent and appeal to “common sense”.

Bolding mine. You misspelled “Fox News”. :smiley: