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Ignorance by Mind Map: Ignorance
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Smithson, M. (1985). Toward a Social Theory of Ignorance. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 20:4, 323–346, 20(4), 323-346. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-5914.1985.tb00049.x. 

Socially constructed

Like knowledge

has informational aspect

has processing aspect

but not just the opposite of knowledge

New node

As important as knowledge

how do people fail to obtain knowledge

how is complete cognitive agreement possible (cognitive unanimity equals lack of ignorance), language is sufficiently specific and unabambiguous that meanings can be unconditionally agree upon by users, natural languages are notorious for nonspecificity, ambiguity, and interpretive incompleteness, there is agreement on methods for reality testing and verification, Standards for reality testing differ markedly even within the same cultures, there are identical and equal opportunities for people to reality test and verify, people live in second hand worlds and the facticity of those worlds is inherenly infinitely revisable and questionable.

Precusor to all scientific discovery, That's interesting, I wonder what caused that

Social norms against knowing

use human capacity for linguistic distortion, vagueness and ambiguity

for privacy, politeness, tact and the avoidance of conflict

control the opportunities for reality testing and the establishment of proprietary domains for knowledge

Four Categories, communicative, knowledge-domain establishing, reality testing, ignorance-promoting

propaganda, military, religious, commercial, legal, super injunctions, gag orders, sexually biased?

Conspiracy of silence about the conspiracy of silence

JoHari Window about the dark side of organizations with a citation of John Ralston Saul "John Ralston Saul (1997) in the Unconscious Civilisation proposes that there is an almost childlike way in which society avoids the reality of its situation, choosing instead to believe a fantasy perpetuated by a corporatist ideology.

Has its own vocabulary



ignorance of ones own ignorance "If I don't know I don't know, I think I know" "If I don't know I know, I think I don't know., Only perceived from someone else's viewpoint., reductio ad absurdum "proof by contradiction

double ignorance

conscious ignorance

intentional ignorance

defensive social function

consensual ignorance, privacy/secrecy, specialized and privileged knowledge, ideological pluralism/hegemony

unilateral ignorance


opposite of prescience

not knowing something that can’t be known.


Recommended reading for a course i heard about on Boing Boing. A potential college course on detecting and combating bullshit in all its forms

course sylabus


A is "ignorant" from B's viewpoint if A fails to agree with or show awareness of ideas which B defines as either actually or potentially factually valid

includes anything which B thinks that A should know (but doesn't) and anything which B thinks A mustn't know and and doesn't

Excludes mere differences in preference or liking

Based on people's own accounts and judgments about validity

sociology of scientific knowledge SSK


the study of ignorance



cognitively discredited people, the insane, the naive

distorted or incomplete


topical irrelevance, genius is an ability to perceive connections between things that most people see as irrelevant or unconnected also applies to insanity

undecidability, questions that people are unable to designate as true or false because the question of verification is not pertinent, like fantasy or fiction and designated meaningless or unprovable

taboo, compulsorily irrelevant and to be avoided, maintaining purity


conscious ignorance preceding learning or discovery

ommission/absence, correct cognition is completely missing

vagueness/fuzziness, ideas which are imprecise according to some standard of precision

ambiguity/inconsistency, oscillation between two or more specific alternative explanations

Surprise events are those that trigger an awareness of ignorance


cognitive bias

Dunning Krugger Effect, Don't know, Don't know they don't know, Think they do know, make bad judgements on the basis of a false sense of superiority

Logical fallacies from Stephen Downes (linked url has examples of each), Fallacies of Distraction, False dilemma, From ignorance, Slippery Slope, Complex question, Appeals to motives in place of support, Appeal to force, Appeal to pity, Consequences, prejudicial disadvantage, Popularity, Changing the subject, Attacking the person, Persons character is attacked, persons circumstances are noted, person does not practice what is preached, appeal to authority, where authority is not expert in a field, where experts in the field disagree, the authority was joking, drunk or in some way not serious, Anonymous authority, Style over substance, inductive fallacies, Hasty generalization, unrepresentative sample, false analogy, slothful induction, fallacy of exclusion, Fallacies involving statistical syllogisms, Acident, converse accident, Causal fallacies, Post hoc, joint effect, insignificant, wrong direction, complex cause, Missing the point, begging the question, irrelevant conclusion, straw man, Fallacy of ambiquity, equivocation, amphiboly, accent, Category errors, Composition, Division, non sequitur, affirming the consequent, denying the antecedent, inconsistency, Syllogistic errors, Fallacy of four terms, undistributed middle, illicit major, illicit minor, fallacy of exclusive premises, fallacy of drawing an affirmative conclusion from a negative premise, Existential fallacy, Fallacies of explanation, Subverted support, non-support, untestability, Limited scope, Limited depth, Fallacies of definition, Too broad, Too narrow, Failure to elucidate, Circular definition, Conflicting conditions

Related articles

Article suggested by Erin

Manufacturing Doubt:Journalists' role

Stocking, S. H., & Holstein, L. (2009). Manufacturing doubt: Journalists' roles and the construction of ignorance in a scientific controversy. Public Understanding of Science, 18(1), 23-42. doi: 10.1177/0963662507079373. 

Death of the News from an elearnspace entry

Ignorance important for democracy

Why we are unaware that we lack the skill to know how unskilled and unaware we are.

Ignorance and Surprise, Mathias Gross

Gross, M. (2010). Ignorance and Surprise: Science, Society, and Ecological Design (New edition.). Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press.

Truth management

Kinsey gaffe

Glomar denial, I can neither confirm nor deny