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Monday, December 26, 2011

The ignorant leading the ignorant

Daniel KahnemanImage via Wikipedia
Related source » The Political Implications of Ignoring Our Own Ignorance — The American Magazine: 'via Blog this'
[This related source is recommended in its entirety.] h/t Newmark's Door

“ […] Instead of using government to consciously impose an institutional structure based on the maps of cognitively impaired individuals, I would prefer to see institutions evolve through a trial-and-error process. People can be “nudged” by all manner of social and religious customs. I would hope that the better norms and customs would tend to survive in a competitive environment. This was Hayek's view of the evolution of language, morals, common law, and other forms of what he called spontaneous order. In contrast, counting on government officials to provide the right nudges strikes me as a recipe for institutional fragility. If Kahneman is correct that we have “an almost unlimited ability to ignore our own ignorance,” then all of us are prone to mistakes. We need institutions that attempt to protect us from ourselves, but we also need institutions that protect us from one another. Limited government is one such institution.” [emphasis added]
— Arnold Kling, December 8, 2011 (

It's the default human condition. It's ubiquitous. It's the bane of civilization. "It" is, of course, ignorance.

Western Civilization continues to parry incessant attacks from seventh-century barbarism at our gates. But these attacks are, arguably, not the primary reason for the precarious state of our civilization. No, our biggest enemy comes from within our own midst. As Pogo observed decades ago: "We have met the enemy and he is us." Specifically, our enemy is ignorance. Even more to the point, our enemy is "ignoring our own ignorance".

Some of us, myself included, are at least willing to acknowledge our own ignorance with respect to the vast majority of knowledge extant. After decades of learning, the one thing that I have concluded with little doubt is how much I don't know. But compared to the dearth of knowledge and understanding commonly on display wherever one may inquire, it is downright frightening what that proverbial man-on-the-street doesn't know or comprehend. Far more frightening, however, is the certainty with which people express their opinions about such complex topics as the economy, world history, the differences between politics and the making of sausage (virtually none), and many other disciplines.

And, as if that were not bad enough, the corrosiveness of ignorance is made exponentially more intense when embodied by those whom we empower to devise and implement national policy. Consider the punishment to our national well-being dispensed by such ignoramuses as Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Joe "BFD" Biden, and the like.

Finally, take Barack Obama (Please!). As President of the United States he is undoubtedly the most influential individual in the world. Moreover, he has a distorted opinion of his own infallibility, and together with his demonstrable ability to persuade others of his (largely unsupported) intelligence, he is the perfect storm of misguided and pernicious actions having hugely negative consequences for our society.

What a revolting development his election has proven to be.

Post 1,744 The ignorant leading the ignorant

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