10 thoughts on “The Greater our Ignorance”

  1. The planted axiom here is that the Right People (who have graduate degrees and NPR tote bags) support change, especially if it makes them more important, and that the Wrong People (who have mortgages and kids) oppose it because they don’t care to be treated like lab rats given random electrical shocks in some irreproducible experiment.

    • Don’t even need to make it about culture wars. This is also the mentality instilled by the MBA, which has done more damage to corporate America than anything else.

      “What do you know? You’ve only been doing this for twenty years, I have a degree!”

      Now, sometimes the new guy can bring fresh insights and the old guy can be stuck in a rut, but when the old guy says “I think this is a bad idea” the new guy should at least listen.

    • There’s also the flip side, that someone ignorant will eagerly embrace a change or a bad idea because they don’t know any better. “What’s the harm? What’s the problem?”

      Open-minded isn’t suppose to mean, “open enough for your brains to fall out,” but “open-minded” is a fallback claim for the ignorant and gullible.

  2. Time to tevisit the Dunning-Kruger effect?


    “The Dunning-Kruger effect is a type of cognitive bias in which people believe they are smarter and more capable than they are. Essentially, low-ability people do not possess the skills needed to recognize their own incompetence. The combination of poor self-awareness and low cognitive ability leads them to overestimate their capabilities.1
    The term lends a scientific name and explanation to a problem that many people immediately recognize—that fools are blind to their own foolishness. As Charles Darwin wrote in his book The Descent of Man, “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”

  3. For context, this is Marc Bekoff:

    Marc Bekoff (born September 6, 1945, in Brooklyn, NY) is an American biologist, ethologist, behavioural ecologist and writer.[1] He was a professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado Boulder for 32 years.[2] He cofounded the Jane Goodall Institute of Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and he is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado Boulder.

    Bekoff earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Washington University in 1967, a Master of Arts from Hofstra University in 1968, and a Ph.D. in Animal Behavior from Washington University in 1972. After completing his Ph.D., he became an assistant professor of biology at University of Missouri–St. Louis in 1973 through 1974. He went on to work at the University of Colorado Boulder as the professor of organismic biology where he pursues research into ethology, animal behavior, behavioral ecology, development and evolution of behavior, social communication and organization, animal protection, cognitive ethology, animal cognition. Bekoff retired from his active professorship after 32 years and currently holds the position of Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado Boulder..During his tenure at University of Colorado Boulder Bekoff has authored or co-authored at least 172 papers.

    An old school Ivory tower academic liberal of the “responsible assertiveness” , non-aggresive variety.

  4. I read the quote in a different way than everybody else.

    Hans Rosling did a series of lectures about this, and wrote a book called “Factfulness”, where he showed that the most educated people, with the most access to up to date information, could not change what they were trained in college. They could not accept the new information that contradicted what they “always knew”.

    He was so puzzled by this, that he started openly testing people during lectures, and then showing them that they were actually wrong. Even when shown the data right there, they could not change their minds.

    He could basically tell when the person went to college by the answer they gave in the test.

    This insight is very useful for Story.

    The mindset of factfulness | Hans Rosling | TGS.ORG

    Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think

    • The technical term is Paradigm paralysis.
      The world changes and they refuse to adapt.


      “Paradigm paralysis refers to the refusal or inability to think or see outside or beyond the current framework or way of thinking or seeing or perceiving things. Paradigm paralysis is often used to indicate a general lack of cognitive flexibility and adaptability of thinking.

      Paradigm paralysis is usually a block to creativity, innovation and change (Gelatt, 1993), and has been shown to lead to breaches in ethical behaviour in business and organisational contexts (Robinson-Easley & Anne, 2017) and the inability to form productive relationships and strategic alliances (Merrifield, 1992) . It is also associated with a general lack of flexibility and resilience (Maag 1999).

      “Paradigm paralysis has been shown to be both situational and linked to individual and group (cultural) characteristics (Everett, 2012) in that people and groups can fall into paradigm paralysis whilst thinking about a particular issue or as a result of the culture they are part of, or as a general reaction to uncertainty or ambiguity (Wilkinson 2006).”

      We’re surrounded by it all over.
      There’s still people who think ebooks are a fad or that the government will destroy Amazon for their benefit.

        • It is a useful way to understand people’s outlook. Many, if not most people, never adapt to the world as they leave childhood. Some remain perpetual tenagers but even the ones that “grow up”, live in their heads in the world they grew up in.

          Paradigm Paralysis isn’t just for individuals, either; a good chunk of the countries, regions, and cultures are frozen in different eras. This is particularly useful in geopolitics where no amount of facts will change their outlook.

          Some obvious mindset examples: Russia is stuck in the 19th century, obsessed with securing ground boundaries that are meaningless to planes, missiles, and drones.

          The islamic arc is of course, still living in the 7th century when hostsge taking and ransoming them was standard “diplomacy”. They may drive cars but those are just mechnical camels. 😉

          China is trying to recreate the 14th century Empire and rapidly devolving to 1947 with another cultural revolution (the childhood of the uncrowned emperor) imminent.

          Most of europe is stuck in the 60’s, particularly 1968. France most notably.

          In the US it goes by region with California stuck in the 90’s, Parts of Oregon in the 60’s like NYC and most of DC, and half of Pennsylvania. The other half and part of Ohio is stuck in the 70’s but as you move west and south the 21st century shows up along the Mississippi and the southern states from Arizona (but not New Mexico) to Florida. Just watch their economies flourish this generation. The midwest will do nicely, too.

          (Explains the culture wars to an extent, too. Just stir in a good dose of strategic overreach.)

          I’ve found it a useful model for understanding global conflict and who will sink (China, Russia, western Europe, africa–a given) and who will survive or even flourish (Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Poland, Türkiye, UK, The Nordics, and yes, the US. Texas and the mississippi valley guarantee it. Plus space. Space looms big.)

          Also good for near-future backstory generation.
          I’ve been boning up on Geopolitics and moving on to the updated Generations model to see what it can add to the mix.


          All of which is useful in finding a semblance of direction in the chaos around us. Especially when (and if) the next war arrives: Empires are most dangerous when they’re collapsing and the two biggests are headed to chaos at once.

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