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We, the Ignorant

It’s difficult to deal with the sheer volume of ignorance in the World. Like a lot of people, I struggle with the hard graft of tolerating idiots. But, when you think about it, ignorance (and to a degree idiocy) makes us very human.

We’re skimmers by nature. We’re hard-wired towards pattern recognition and our minds like to fill in gaps between the things we do (or think we do) know and the wilderness of uncertainty of those (most of the Universe) that we don’t.

Ignorance really stands out when someone says something about sugar causing diabetes, for example. Or not understanding there are two types of diabetes… or, more precisely, lots of types of diabetes that we’ve generally lumped into two categories of Type 1 and Type 2.

Until it happens to you there’s the bliss of ignorance, as I’m told. Ignorance lets us sleep soundly… and often sees us saying dumb things to people who aren’t as ignorant on that specific subject.

I had a malignant melanoma removed in 2010. Do you know how many people tell me that they had a melanoma removed – but they really mean a harmless bit of sun damage? Lots. They don’t understand anything beyond the cliche marketing about slip, slop, slap and be careful in the sunshine. I’m told by a skin specialist that it isn’t the first melanoma that kills us… it’s the second or third. I envy the ignorance of somebody who hasn’t had melanoma enter their life.

Other medical examples include schizophrenia. How many people think it’s a mental illness, rather than a physical brain issue that can be CAT scanned? And hands up those ignorant about the Black Dog of depression? All of the unemployed young Australian males, in a research project, were shown to exhibit symptoms of depression within six weeks of going on the dole. It’s a serious mental disorder, not a mere phase of unhappiness. And our ignorance divides those with cancers they deserve from cancers they are victims of – lung cancer and melanoma are perceived as self-inflicted, while blood, bone and brain cancers aren’t deserved by the recipient.

How difficult would it be as a life-long non-smoker who never worked in heavy industry to be dying of lung cancer around the ignorance of that worldview?

Our ignorance sometimes astounds me. It moves to the realm of discussions about economics, parole, prisons and sentencing. Most of us have not enjoyed an education in either micro or macro economics (or had any experience with crime and punishment) but we make wide-sweeping ignorant statements that highlight our frail humanity. We’re mainly ignorant… and that ignorance becomes a problem when we aren’t wise enough to realise the dissonance between what we know and what we think we know?

Oh I’m just as ignorant as you. I rant. I really rant a lot. But until certain things touch our lives or we have a formal education on a subject (either set by life or a curriculum) then we really don’t know a whole lot.

The next time someone says something you feel qualified to call them out for as stupid… try informing them of the facts. Ignorance only really moves into idiocy when they ignore the facts.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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