Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hinky Pinky, or: A word for it

Not only is there a word for it, but it’s spawned a whole new area of academic study. Who knew?
A historian of science at Stanford, [Robert] Proctor points out that when it comes to many contentious subjects, our usual relationship to information is reversed: Ignorance increases.
Upside-down information relationships, or: Why the world gets dumber by the day.
He has developed a word inspired by this trend: agnotology. Derived from the Greek root agnosis, it is "the study of culturally constructed ignorance."
Agnots, or: Who you bang heads with at every large gathering of family or coworkers.
"People always assume that if someone doesn't know something, it's because they haven't paid attention or haven't yet figured it out," Proctor says. "But ignorance also comes from people literally suppressing truth—or drowning it out—or trying to make it so confusing that people stop caring about what's true and what's not."
Confusing the truth, Making shit up, or: Obama’s Bill Hands ACORN $5.2 Billion Bailout.
As Farhad Manjoo notes in True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society, if we argue about what a fact means, we're having a debate. If we argue about what the facts are, it's agnotological Armageddon, where reality dies screaming.
Agnotological Armageddon, or: Rightwing talk radio, rightwing blogs, rightwing think tanks, Jonah Goldberg, and every pixel on Free Republic.
We need to fashion information tools that are designed to combat agnotological rot.
Agnotological rot killer, or: Yeah, well, good luck with that.

[h/t Dave B. at Catboxx.]

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