Ignorance is the lack of knowledge or information. Today, we use it to define someone whose political and moral values are shallow and even offensive.
Ignorance is also defined as the state of a person going through cognitive errors, particularly cognitive dissonance. It is a type of mental discomfort when the person is conflicted between two values or attitudes that do not go together.
Below are some of the best examples of ignorance in our society today.
1. Saying that scientific facts are a hoax
The primary obligation of a scientist is to prove that the other scientist is wrong. It is why there is such a thing called peer review. Science is also a methodological approach to proving things.
Unfortunately, ignorant people do not understand how scientific progress works, so they are more likely to dismiss it as a hoax.
Some examples of scientific ignorance includes believing that the earth is flat, that certain diseases are not real, or that proven scientific laws are untrue.
They refuse to acknowledge the integrity of the scientific method, which makes them come across as ignorant.
2. Believing in conspiracy theories
Ignorant people tend to be easily swayed by conspiracy theories. This is because they find it easier to grasp simplistic unproven theories than facts and scientific evidence.
Sometimes, conspiracy theories are just much more exciting and emotionally appealing than reality.
Excitement is an emotion, and many ignorant people use their emotions when making decisions, not their minds. Conspiracy theories include things like believing the US governmentis hiding the fact that aliens live among us, that man did not land on the moon, or that Mt Rushmore hides hidden treasures. Until there is evidence that these things are true, they’re just conspiracies.
A conspiracy theory is an alternative explanation to things, claiming that people in power are hiding something—that they conspired to hide the truth and replace it with a fake story. In the mind of a conspiracy theorist, his version of the story is the real deal.
3. Behaving negatively about culture and ethnicity
A person who has a negative attitude about a person of color, or a person who does not share the same values as he does, may be classed as ignorant.
In an ignorant person’s mind, his world and values are the only ones that exist. His worldview is too small.
Often, this type of ignorance comes from lack of genuine interaction and relationships with people of different backgrounds. Through travel and diverse life experiences, people can overcome stereotypes about others and learn to appreciate one another at a deeper level.
4. Taking the word of a guru as truth
An ignorant person may struggle to think deeply about a topic. He may not be able to understand the structured academic frameworks for how knowledge is developed. As such, he has to appeal to authority.
Because of this, ignorant people gather in groups of likeminded people to fight for their causes—and it only takes one person to be their spokesperson.
Often, a guru or charismatic political figure will tap into the emotions of ignorant groups. No matter what this guru says to them, it is seen by followers to be the truth. You will commonly see this in political rallies where you meet hyped-up and non-critically minded fanatics; or, in cults.
5. Accepting rumor as truth
A rumor is a rumor until there is evidence to prove it. Ignorant people choose to believe rumors without evidence, and they often do not want to hear evidence to the contrary. They only want the hot gossip.
Usually, the rumors that ignorant people believe are related to show business. For example, there was a rumor that Paul McCartney died in the 1960s and that he was replaced by a body double. Of course, it is just a rumor, but people believed it.
As critically thinking human beings, we need to be able to sift through what is realistic and what is an implausible rumor.
6. Being gullible to real hoaxes
There was this viral video showing that China was manufacturing plastic rice. People believed it and demonized China.
If you think about it, is much more expensive to manufacture plastic rice than plant the real thing, so it does not really make sense.
Because of their lack of capacity to process information, some people will believe almost anything – even if it’s implausible. There are some people who still believe in the Loch Ness monster, even if there is evidence proving that it was just a photographic hoax.
7. Maintaining ancient beliefs that have no scientific backing
While some ancient practices make sense, like using plants and herbs as a cure for a few illnesses, some have no scientific basis.
For example, many people say that astrology is ignorant because it’s not been found to have truth behind it.
Another example is an old wives tale. If you believe in old wives’ tales, you are denying yourself the truth, which makes you ignorant.
Some say that when a person dies, a baby is born. Of course, this is false; a baby can be born anytime without a person dying. How else will you explain population growth when the ratio of death and birth is 1:1? These are all ancient beliefs that are disproven.
8. Supposing that if many people do or believe the same thing, it must be right
Many people believe that eating before swimming will cause cramps. Scientifically, it is not true. People also believe that a bull will charge when you wave a red cape. Bulls, however, are color-blind (it’s the waving that causes the charge, not the color).
Ignorance is what causes people to do what others do or believe what others believe. It is based on a primal instinct that there is security in numbers. So what harm can it do, right?
This behavior is called jumping on the bandwagon. While it may seem harmless, what it really does is it takes away your capacity to think and analyze.
9. Making fun of people for their challenges
Ignorant people, because of their small worldview, fail to empathize. They only feel according to what they have in life. If they have no relative who is suffering from a cognitive impairment, then they have no grasp of what it is like to be in that situation.
Because of that lack of knowledge, they make fun of obese people, people with cognitive impairments, and many other things that, in reality, are difficult and tough situations that should not be mocked.
10. Not being able to admit one’s mistakes
An ignorant person has little understanding of the world, people’s feelings, or cultural norms. As such, they cannot admit that they offended somebody, and you cannot expect them to apologize.
An ignorant person who makes a mistake is much more concerned about justifying his action than understanding how he can improve as a person.
By contrast, an enlightened person will be happy to be told they are incorrect because they can look at the evidence presented and change their mind if their interlocutor has a good point!
Ignorance is a dangerous thing. One thing that is really ironictoday is that just as people have access to information, the more gullible they become—the more ignorant they turn out to be. The opposite of ignorance is enlightenment. However, you should still exercise caution, as some people take enlightenment too far – we often call this “wokeness” or political correctness.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.