Dealing with Ignorance

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Dealing with Ignorance

Postby Athena on June 30th, 2015, 9:55 pm 

This was mentioned in another thread, but it wasn't the topic of the thread, so I creating one. I find in another forum I am having a very bad reaction to what appears serious ignorance. Thanks to what was said in this forum, I doing a little better in replying with questions that might get better answers, but it has been several years and no learning seems to be happening. Is it sometimes impossible to get through to people, and if so how do we make ourselves okay with that? Or is there something I might try?

Like the subject is culture, and the answer to my question, "what is the purpose of telling stories?" was "To put tired children to sleep". I suppose that is humorous, but it comes from folks who seem pretty clueless about what results in culture.

One person in another country seems to hate Britain and the US because these countries have been exploitive and this is the foundation of a culture that hates everything to do with these countries. That is pathetic. Doesn't the country have anything else that gives it culture? A culture can't be all about hating another country can it?
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Re: dealing with ignorance

Postby zetreque on July 1st, 2015, 1:44 am 

It's like asking why are people racist and stereotype?

I'd answer the story question saying that stories are a way to pass on information. Morals, knowledge, ideas, culture. (If those stories are full of hate for another country then that results)

I don't want to take away from your topic, but I have a question tonight. Has there always been so many negative things to talk about in the world? I feel like the topic of almost any conversation these days is or leads to something negative, unless you are just oblivious like the ignorants you are speaking of. Maybe that's why they are being ignorant "Ignorance is bliss". I imagine in the past, before so many people were living in closer quarters, we used to be able to talk about daily events, nature, and life in all positive feel good ways instead of complaining about all this **** other people are constantly doing around us and to us. Or maybe it was always hard. Sorry, Back to your topic, these days I could go for hours talking about how oblivious people are... Tonight the main topic was light pollution. People come to live in nature to escape the cities and yet they bring the stuff in cities they want to escape. They are completely oblivious to it.

Is it sometimes impossible to get through to people, and if so how do we make ourselves okay with that? Or is there something I might try?


This is actually a psychology topic. I have learned that the best way to get people to see things is to plant seeds in their mind until they think it was their idea (I do this with my dad all the time, and used to do it at work). You can't tell people or teach them something, they have to learn it (experience it) and seek to learn it. I once realized I can learn things, but I don't actually really learn them until I sought to learn them.

One philosophy is to lead by example. There is a famous quote I never understood until one day it finally hit me in a deep way. "Be the change you want to see".

You can't help someone, they have to help themselves or seek help. That is the most true for cases of depression and substance abuse.

Respond to people by asking them questions to get them to think (Were there any bedtime stories that you were told by your parents and how did they impact you? Follow up with more questions about how that might influence culture since it influenced who they were growing up), or just wait until others ask questions because those are the ones that actually want to learn. I had a social oppression professor who went on and on about letting people be themselves and only helping them if they ask to be helped otherwise you are being an "oppressor".

Related to being the change you want to see. Another way to get people interested is if you are confident in what you are doing/saying, other people will either believe you or seek to understand... "Hey this person looks like they know what they are doing/talking about, I want to know what it's all about!" You could be doing the most ridiculous thing, and people will look at you funny, but then their curiosity can win them over and they rethink or question themselves.

Another thing, I also think conversations are better if people can get over their egos. Egos can severely get in the way of productive conversations and learning. By not having to be better or prove something you can step back and be more of an observer that guides others and learns from them. We all make mistakes, but others would like to pretend that they don't and cut you down if you make one, but you can't let it get to you. Be true to yourself. Do not worry about making mistakes, changing other people or proving anything to them.
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Re: dealing with ignorance

Postby doogles on July 1st, 2015, 4:51 am 

Zetrique, I really liked that contribution.

There were two main points I picked up on. You used the word 'oblivious' to describe a form of 'ignorance'. I've never thought of using that word before, and I believe it is the main form of 'ignorance'. That's a plus to my vocabulary.

And the other is a motto/phrase I will begin to use more frequently myself and in advice to others - "Be the change you want to see"..

Thank you.
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Re: dealing with ignorance

Postby Serpent on July 1st, 2015, 8:26 pm 

Nobody's ignorant about everything, and everybody's ignorant about some things, but there does seem to be a general channeling of attention to fewer and fewer cultural foci. There is also a big - enormous! - problem of indifference. That may actually be avoidance, a symptom of anxiety: almost everything you learn about is, as zetreque says, negative, frightening, dark, bad, beyond our power to affect. I just yesterday say a book about adrenalin overload as a cause of a wide and vague range of physical debility and malaise. And we're offered those popular few distractions from the ubiquitous anxiety.... and ...

I see it as an interconnected system of social phenomena, rather than a singe problem.
Still, it can be extremely frustrating and very difficult to discuss without giving and taking offense.

Perhaps, rather than introduce a vast and intimidating topic, you could begin with a simple, well-aimed question? The one about stories (choose one at a time: legend? folklore? mythology? personal narrative? family history? moral instruction?) and their role in culture and its transmission would certainly get my attention!
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Re: dealing with ignorance

Postby zetreque on July 1st, 2015, 8:53 pm 

Serpent » Wed Jul 01, 2015 5:26 pm wrote:I see it as an interconnected system of social phenomena, rather than a singe problem.


I think so too. My mom, who is around some of the worst ignorant public every day for her job, thinks that everyone knows humans are destroying the planet and climate change is happening on at an increased pace so they are in denial and choosing to be ignorant and oblivious. That is her opinion though that I just wanted to share.

I do think it's a social phenomena that is spreading with population growth and technology. If you think about it, we might actually be in one of the best times in human history. We have so much at our finger tips (at least in a "developed" country), food in abundance, technology, leisure, travel, fascinating discovery of space/ocean/science and wrapping up the last explored places on Earth (besides some deep ocean), and while I think the medical field is still in the dark ages, it is pretty miraculous what we can cure. We don't even have to worry about violence and wars at the moment because our history has been extremely bloody with rape and pillaging. We don't need to worry as much about violence these days as you would in the past for sure. We have advanced so much in the past 100 years it's incredible!

This has relaxed people possibly too much and they have no necessity to be knowledgeable. There is no incentive if you live in a "developed" country to seek knowledge when you have so much leisure and security. We are using up resources indulging ourselves in ways never before seen. Soon as the US loses it's position as dominant power which is happening and has already happened depending on who you talk to, then money and culture is pushed toward being knowledgeable to compete with other countries. It kinda just comes down to competition. When you are at the top there is no way to go but down, and while at the top you can feel pretty good.

We might actually be living in one of the best possible times because the future could be very bleak with population growth and the way things are headed with "ignorance". "developing" countries don't have the resources to leap into the developed stage because the developed countries already stole them. I try to be optimistic though and imagine an incredibly great future but it seems really hard sometimes, especially being an environmental science student.
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Re: dealing with ignorance

Postby Athena on July 1st, 2015, 10:12 pm 

zetreque » June 30th, 2015, 11:44 pm wrote:It's like asking why are people racist and stereotype?

I'd answer the story question saying that stories are a way to pass on information. Morals, knowledge, ideas, culture. (If those stories are full of hate for another country then that results)

I don't want to take away from your topic, but I have a question tonight. Has there always been so many negative things to talk about in the world? I feel like the topic of almost any conversation these days is or leads to something negative, unless you are just oblivious like the ignorants you are speaking of. Maybe that's why they are being ignorant "Ignorance is bliss". I imagine in the past, before so many people were living in closer quarters, we used to be able to talk about daily events, nature, and life in all positive feel good ways instead of complaining about all this **** other people are constantly doing around us and to us. Or maybe it was always hard. Sorry, Back to your topic, these days I could go for hours talking about how oblivious people are... Tonight the main topic was light pollution. People come to live in nature to escape the cities and yet they bring the stuff in cities they want to escape. They are completely oblivious to it.

Is it sometimes impossible to get through to people, and if so how do we make ourselves okay with that? Or is there something I might try?


This is actually a psychology topic. I have learned that the best way to get people to see things is to plant seeds in their mind until they think it was their idea (I do this with my dad all the time, and used to do it at work). You can't tell people or teach them something, they have to learn it (experience it) and seek to learn it. I once realized I can learn things, but I don't actually really learn them until I sought to learn them.

One philosophy is to lead by example. There is a famous quote I never understood until one day it finally hit me in a deep way. "Be the change you want to see".

You can't help someone, they have to help themselves or seek help. That is the most true for cases of depression and substance abuse.

Respond to people by asking them questions to get them to think (Were there any bedtime stories that you were told by your parents and how did they impact you? Follow up with more questions about how that might influence culture since it influenced who they were growing up), or just wait until others ask questions because those are the ones that actually want to learn. I had a social oppression professor who went on and on about letting people be themselves and only helping them if they ask to be helped otherwise you are being an "oppressor".

Related to being the change you want to see. Another way to get people interested is if you are confident in what you are doing/saying, other people will either believe you or seek to understand... "Hey this person looks like they know what they are doing/talking about, I want to know what it's all about!" You could be doing the most ridiculous thing, and people will look at you funny, but then their curiosity can win them over and they rethink or question themselves.

Another thing, I also think conversations are better if people can get over their egos. Egos can severely get in the way of productive conversations and learning. By not having to be better or prove something you can step back and be more of an observer that guides others and learns from them. We all make mistakes, but others would like to pretend that they don't and cut you down if you make one, but you can't let it get to you. Be true to yourself. Do not worry about making mistakes, changing other people or proving anything to them.


I think I should read this every day before reading other post and attempting to reply. I know what you said, but forget what I know. I think it is so important to hang with people who are uplifting and to get those constant reminders of how we want to be. It makes a huge difference in how I react to everything else.

I appreciate your mention of all the negativity. I have been studying the Enlightenment and I really want to believe Kant is right, and that democracy is the best way to achieve our human potential, and when someone writes our forefathers thought democracy was a very bad idea, or that anarchy is a good thing and that I am old and shouldn't even be in a forum, I lose all hope for the future, and feel desperate to find reasons for hope. It isn't just what they say, but I feel terrible about my failure to communicate my understanding of meanings. Your suggestions on how to handle the culture issue are very good, but then do they want to learn? Maybe I am being foolish to return, considering these discussions are not the intellectual stimulation I want.

Like my whole life, I had no problem staying out of the men's clubs, and perhaps I should stay out of forums dominated by young people? I live in housing for older people because I love being around people who share my values and life experience, and I don't want to live in apartments with young people who think being rude is okay. I am confused? All the forums seem to want participants, but many are so unpleasant I think something must be wrong with a person who keeps going back. I think I expressed my feelings about this in the wrong place because people here got defensive, and I was thinking of forums in general and what is attractive to me and what is not, not specifically of this forum. I want to be with people who lift me up. Does that sound awful? Life is what we make it and there are people who make it really good and people who make it really awful. I want to be people who make it good and I don't want to impose myself on anyone.
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Re: dealing with ignorance

Postby Serpent on July 1st, 2015, 10:37 pm 

Athena, do you have Netflix? It might be available elsewhere too. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1613092/That's a documentary about what makes people happy. You might find it uplifting. I did.
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Re: dealing with ignorance

Postby Athena on July 1st, 2015, 11:02 pm 

Serpent » July 1st, 2015, 6:26 pm wrote:Nobody's ignorant about everything, and everybody's ignorant about some things, but there does seem to be a general channeling of attention to fewer and fewer cultural foci. There is also a big - enormous! - problem of indifference. That may actually be avoidance, a symptom of anxiety: almost everything you learn about is, as zetreque says, negative, frightening, dark, bad, beyond our power to affect. I just yesterday say a book about adrenalin overload as a cause of a wide and vague range of physical debility and malaise. And we're offered those popular few distractions from the ubiquitous anxiety.... and ...

I see it as an interconnected system of social phenomena, rather than a singe problem.
Still, it can be extremely frustrating and very difficult to discuss without giving and taking offense.

Perhaps, rather than introduce a vast and intimidating topic, you could begin with a simple, well-aimed question? The one about stories (choose one at a time: legend? folklore? mythology? personal narrative? family history? moral instruction?) and their role in culture and its transmission would certainly get my attention!


You reminded me of a mention on TV about our nation becoming macabre. Some of us would say the quality of our TV programming has lost the past standard of entertainment, and instead of having cultural appeal it is all about appealing to the lowest instincts of young males, and that news programs that were once informative are now contrived sensationalism also appealing to our lowest instincts. There is no question that we are being groomed and exploited as consumers, and the bottom line always is the dollar, not human values.

When we replaced liberal education with education for technology, we stopped transmitting our culture and preparing everyone for good moral judgment, based on science and reason. Now we have liberty confused with anarchy and morals confused with religious indoctrination. It seems like the democracy we were, and all the ideals and hopes are forgotten.

I am wondering if this period is so different from when the macabre became first became popular?


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danse_Macabre
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Re: dealing with ignorance

Postby zetreque on July 1st, 2015, 11:09 pm 

Athena » Wed Jul 01, 2015 8:02 pm wrote:and the bottom line always is the dollar, not human values.


You said it right there. That's what it has become. It's also all an ego competition. Whoever has the most toys and money. One hope is that we will make a technological transition to get past money and instead the pursuit of knowledge and betterment. Similar to a star trek universe (hopefully minus the evil aliens out to conquer us).
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Re: dealing with ignorance

Postby Athena on July 2nd, 2015, 12:05 am 

Serpent » July 1st, 2015, 8:37 pm wrote:Athena, do you have Netflix? It might be available elsewhere too. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1613092/That's a documentary about what makes people happy. You might find it uplifting. I did.



Thanks, I am really tired, so I am going to sign off and check out the message about being happy.

I say plenty of negative things, especially the ramifications of replacing liberal education with education for technology that prepares our young for a technological society with unknown values. but there a lot good is happening too. I think our knowledge of being humans is very much improved, and if can get past the political struggles, with the science of being human, we might be back on the path of achieving our potential.
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Re: Dealing with Ignorance

Postby Paralith on July 2nd, 2015, 3:19 pm 

Hi Athena,

I completely understand what you mean about wanting to be around people and ideas that lift you up. Many mental health professionals agree that doing this is good for you. I myself avoid news and current events regularly. But at the same time, it can be dangerous, if you only ever allow yourself to see and hear things that are in agreement with your ideas and opinions. It is hard to grow and evolve in such a constant environment. In fact, many of the ignorant/oblivious people we are thinking of in this thread do just that, surround themselves with nothing but agreement, constantly reinforcing their own beliefs and never taking in anything new or different that might remotely challenge them.

As with so many things, it's about finding the balance between the two extremes. We have to take care of ourselves, make sure that there is positivity and a community of support and acceptance in our lives. No human deserves any less. But we also have to take the time and effort to challenge ourselves, to question ourselves, to open ourselves to new ideas. To try new things and most of the time fail at them but sometimes succeed and always learn. This is difficult in so many ways, as I think we all know.

I have restricted my forum-visitations to this forum only. I have done that because I found that more people here, than at other forums, are in agreement with many of my views and in particular that kinds of conversations I would like to have. But, there have been plenty of times here where I have had to encounter challenges to my knowledge, my beliefs, and deal with people who strongly and sometimes aggressively disagree with me. Sometimes, I have to just stop and walk away from threads like these. Sometimes, I can see them through. And this, along with other things I've experienced in my life, have contributed to the development and evolution of my thoughts and ideas. I hope it is for the better. It is what I try for, and that is the best that we can ask of and do for ourselves.
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Re: dealing with ignorance

Postby zetreque on July 2nd, 2015, 10:15 pm 

Serpent » Wed Jul 01, 2015 7:37 pm wrote:Athena, do you have Netflix? It might be available elsewhere too. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1613092/That's a documentary about what makes people happy. You might find it uplifting. I did.



Nice documentary. Thank you for the recommendation.

wow, 50% of happiness is genetics they say. I wasn't quite clear on how they determined that with identical twin studies though.

I noticed a common theme about nature in this, or maybe it's just because I'm biased when it comes to that. I posted a map in a thread here viewtopic.php?f=53&t=28940&start=60#p282069 that shows public lands around the united states and I mentioned how I have observed happiness levels increase in my travels as you go to places with more nature. They also talked about "Flow" and forgetting your ego, which can be done in nature. Coincidentally, this article was just posted by the washington post about nature being good for the brain.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/06/29/fixating-or-brooding-on-things-take-a-walk-in-the-woods-for-real/?postshare=4961435859979956

The bit about the bushman. If we spent so much time evolving in our history being connected and having close relationships in a group of people that relies on one another and on nature, then it makes sense that those things would give us happiness and health.

I like this documentary because of all my previous research into longevity. The bit about Japan having the least happiness was interesting. They even have a word, Karōshi, for people dying young from being unhappy and overworked. You always hear about Japan having the longest lived people and sure enough, later the documentary talks about the famous longevity and happiness in Okinawa. A common theme I found in all the books I read about longevity was having that sense of community and happiness. I am specifically thinking of the book "John Robbins - Healthy at 100". I think one important point about Okinawa in the film was how they have communication and have contact with one another to solve issues. Many communities in the US are so full of people from different backgrounds and cultures that they don't communicate and tend to not get along.

It's good that Bhutan is going about it with a different approach that we can see the results of as time passes. (unfortunately I might be making comments that might only make sense if you watch the documentary and half spoilers)

I think the bit about Denmark Athena would like. I had a good friend from Denmark and I didn't really agree with him, but he talked so highly about the Country. I've grown to be more of a solitary person so it would be hard for me to fit into the kind of living that's talked about in Denmark in the film, but maybe not if it's far different than apartment living in the US.

Athena you might also be into the segment on education in schools about bullying. It's good to have that kind of stuff in schools I think.

It talks about acts of kindness. The sad thing is. Whenever I help people, they always take advantage of me and I often regret it. I'm not sure what is going on with that, but it might be something to do with the US culture of greed, selfishness and wanting power, so people abuse kindness. So I'm not sure that random acts of kindness is much of a global solution. It also goes back to my point of not helping people unless they ask for help. It's hard to help someone unless they are open to being helped. Then they will appreciate it, learn, and accept help.
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Re: Dealing with Ignorance

Postby zetreque on July 2nd, 2015, 10:19 pm 

Paralith » Thu Jul 02, 2015 12:19 pm wrote: In fact, many of the ignorant/oblivious people we are thinking of in this thread do just that, surround themselves with nothing but agreement, constantly reinforcing their own beliefs and never taking in anything new or different that might remotely challenge them.


I love that observation, I see it all the time with Fox News. I used to work in a hotel for many years and even on vacation people can't survive without that channel playing 24/7. If the cable channels went out for any reason, that would be the one people would be calling about to get fixed aside from large sporting events a couple times. You will also notice that channel almost always on in break rooms, sports bars, lobbies, hospitals, and anywhere else there are public TVs. Except maybe doctors offices, I usually see nature shows or movie channels on there half the time thankfully and no remote control. Could be different in other areas of the country, but I would assume not since hotel goers are from all over the US.

I like how you put it. We need to outside of our box sometimes because we live in a world with infinite combinations of opinions, perspectives, ideas, and lifestyles. To be informed one must at least dabble outside of their box sometimes or we would be no better than the ones we are calling ignorant. It comes down to acceptance, which was also mentioned in the documentary.

Acceptance fits into an environmental perspective. Even the slug and mosquito have a purpose. They are all part of our food web and biomes that make life as we know it. Sometimes when I am really annoyed with people I will take that perspective knowing that we need diversity. Even if we don't like something, it harms us (mosquito bites), or challenges our beliefs, we need diversity for the checks and balances of life as we know it.
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Re: Dealing with Ignorance

Postby Athena on July 3rd, 2015, 1:31 am 

zetreque, I like the research on the effects of being in nature. For years I thought, if LA increased spots of nature inside the cities, it would dramatically increase the quality of life, and reduce human suffering. I grew up down there and it just isn't mentally healthy to be in a man-made city for long, that is devoid of nature. I know I require walks in nature for my sanity. I am very thankful I live where there are rivers and parks. From time to time developers threaten to take park land, and I am sure for how long we keep what we have. I suppose I should pay attention to city hall, and be ready with the research you provided to fight for our natural areas.
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Re: Dealing with Ignorance

Postby Athena on July 3rd, 2015, 1:52 am 

Paralith » July 2nd, 2015, 1:19 pm wrote:Hi Athena,

I completely understand what you mean about wanting to be around people and ideas that lift you up. Many mental health professionals agree that doing this is good for you. I myself avoid news and current events regularly. But at the same time, it can be dangerous, if you only ever allow yourself to see and hear things that are in agreement with your ideas and opinions. It is hard to grow and evolve in such a constant environment. In fact, many of the ignorant/oblivious people we are thinking of in this thread do just that, surround themselves with nothing but agreement, constantly reinforcing their own beliefs and never taking in anything new or different that might remotely challenge them.

As with so many things, it's about finding the balance between the two extremes. We have to take care of ourselves, make sure that there is positivity and a community of support and acceptance in our lives. No human deserves any less. But we also have to take the time and effort to challenge ourselves, to question ourselves, to open ourselves to new ideas. To try new things and most of the time fail at them but sometimes succeed and always learn. This is difficult in so many ways, as I think we all know.

I have restricted my forum-visitations to this forum only. I have done that because I found that more people here, than at other forums, are in agreement with many of my views and in particular that kinds of conversations I would like to have. But, there have been plenty of times here where I have had to encounter challenges to my knowledge, my beliefs, and deal with people who strongly and sometimes aggressively disagree with me. Sometimes, I have to just stop and walk away from threads like these. Sometimes, I can see them through. And this, along with other things I've experienced in my life, have contributed to the development and evolution of my thoughts and ideas. I hope it is for the better. It is what I try for, and that is the best that we can ask of and do for ourselves.


Disagreements with informed people are completely different from disagreements with ignorant people. For example arguing American culture with people who have no idea what the Enlightenment or Age of Reason was about. I mean someone who knows no more about American culture that what is nightly on TV. What is on TV every night is not my idea of culture! That is a cheap shot at appealing to the lowest animal instincts of young males, so they will see commercials and spend their money.

Because he knows nothing about the Enlightenment, he can not possibly be a judge of a culture resulting from the Enlightenment, but he doesn't know that. He is matched by the young lady, who told me I shouldn't even be posting because I am old. Bet you $50 she not only doesn't understand the value of good manners and is ignorant of the foundation of American culture, but she isn't even 30 years of age. If she were older, she would know better. So I question if any good can come out of arguing with them. What could they possibly teach me about culture? They may know something, but it is not what we are discussing.
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Re: Dealing with Ignorance

Postby doogles on July 3rd, 2015, 6:38 am 

I’ve been following this thread for the last couple of days and finding so many interesting points to add to or comment upon that I’m not quite sure where to start.

Firstly I think it’s okay to leave the thread in the Social Science forum - from the point of view of what I’m about to add. This is a rough and ready (no references) perspective I have developed on the psychosocial life development of members of our species.

All of us are born ignorant in the sense that we have no social awareness or social skills until we are potty-trained. Babies and toddlers are driven entirely by their own primitive drives and wants until this stage. If toddlers arrive in our houses, every fragile or valuable item within reach of the toddlers goes to an inaccessible height until the coast is clear. None of us was born with an awareness of socially desirable behaviour.

After potty-training, we begin to develop a step by step awareness of thousands of ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots’ by mimicking, or by positive and negative reinforcement of our behaviour until we become socially acceptable children within our culture. If our parents lack the skills to teach us, we undergo the embarrassment of being faulted later in life. The following are a couple of personal examples.

I became aware that the sun can cause second degree burns when my mother took my brother and myself to the beach at the age of 9 and 11, totally oblivious to the reddening of our lily-white skin. We were all ignorant.

There was no such thing as a toothbrush in our house. In the 1930s and 40s, ‘dental health’ meant putting up with toothache till the decay was rotten enough to have all of your teeth extracted for the fitting of upper and lower dentures. I became aware that my tooth decay was repairable and took myself to a dentist at age 15. A couple of teeth were removed, but I still have my own now in my 80s.

Personal hygiene in that era meant boiling the ‘copper’ on Sunday nights and filling the tin bath with hot water transferred using a ‘kerosene tin’ with a handle made of fencing wire. Mum first, then dad, then oldest to youngest, the last being me. In my early 20s when boarding as a university student, I used to shower once a week, unless I’d just finished a game of football. It was embarrassing to be informed that I was a bit ‘woofy’.

I think that’s enough to indicate that we go through stages of becoming aware of social norms and skills in our own cultures. This also applies to the bigoted attitudes of our parents in life. We mimic them well until we become aware that they are unreasoned prejudices.

And I believe the same thing happens in our intellectual development. In a lower socio-economic industrial suburban area such as the one I was reared in, life for adults consisted of working Monday to Friday and Saturday morning (My 7-year old brother had the job of taking me, his 5-year old younger brother, to his first day at school). Saturday afternoon was for going to a sporting event or betting on the races using a radio and an illegal Starting Price bookmaker. Sunday was for church in the morning for the religious, some family visits, and some sporting events in the afternoons. Straight after work, most men went to the pub and drank as much as possible in the limited time available in the days of six-o’clock closing. The ‘missus’ could be lucky enough for ‘hubby’ to bring home a couple of bottles of beer. Organised card games were common and the radio programs were well patronised.

People voted hereditarily and politics and religion were never discussed. Conversation was virtually limited to sporting events.

My siblings and forebears and virtually everybody in the area in which I was reared could only ever converse at that level. And the situation is not much different among most of my daily contacts in the area in which I am now retired.

I understand exactly where you are coming from in this thread Athena. But with the minor few exceptions of the kind mentioned by you and Paralith, this Science and Philosophy Chat Forum is like pure gold to me. The contributions keep reminding me of how oblivious I still am to so many things.

The more new knowledge I glean from this forum, the more ignorant I realise I really am.
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Re: Dealing with Ignorance

Postby neuro on July 3rd, 2015, 9:21 am 

doogles » July 3rd, 2015, 11:38 am wrote:The more new knowledge I glean from this forum, the more ignorant I realise I really am.

You sure are not alone in this.

My two cents, in this conversation, would be that the problem generally is not in dealing with "ignorance", but rather with stubbornness and mental rigidity.

I believe that the richness and variety of (practical, intellectual, relational) experience help a lot in developing mental elasticity, and the willingness to doubt and learn. Culture, and cultural interests, are the key to this.
So, "ignorance" and lack of experiences make it more difficult to learn (and to consider other people's opinion).

The problem then is not how much "ignorant" one is, but how much she is opposed to learning, to doubt, to feel the slight vertigo of letting go of some "truth" that used to offer protection and certainty.

It is like flying. You cannot do it while keeping your feet solidly on the ground.
And you cannot show people how to fly - Athena - if they are afraid of letting go of the ground...
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Re: Dealing with Ignorance

Postby TheVat on July 3rd, 2015, 9:54 am 

Seems like it's that "willingness to doubt" that gets suppressed in many cultures or subcultures. Many thoughtful posts here...I want to mull them over a bit and keep following this. I've lived in places where there is so much ignorance and closed minds...for the sake of my sanity, I had to learn to be amused by it (in myself, as well as others). It is so often a way people have of protecting themselves from a world that changes too fast and seems baffling in its complexity and ambiguities.
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Re: Dealing with Ignorance

Postby Serpent on July 3rd, 2015, 12:04 pm 

I feel that there was a moment in North America - circa 1890-1914 - when it all could have turned good. Public schools, parks, museums, libraries and theaters created all over the place; cheap transportation; political and legal reform; a general sentiment against child labour and cruelty to animals... a sort of industrial era enlightenment. WWI ended that euphoric moment. Other interesting and very positive changes took place between wars, both in spite of and because of the depression, but never free of its shadow. There was the huge surge of technological progress and prosperity after WWII, but never free of the cold war's shadow (It still isn't!)

I've sometimes wondered where we might be now, without those breakdowns - if the enlightenment continued uninterrupted. The pessimist in me knows, but the dreamer can't help speculating just the same.
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Re: Dealing with Ignorance

Postby zetreque on July 3rd, 2015, 1:43 pm 

doogles, the sequence of logic in your post made an important point very understandable. In other words I liked it. I am wondering how children today are different from children of the time you are talking about. I don't think it's the children that are different but the society and social feedback. Maybe in some cases the parents grew up without ever receiving the feedback/knowledge, so we have this new uninformed culture. I'm sure the larger population of today has something to do with it, but not quite sure how to tie that into it.

I also don't think it's at all fair to accuse others of ignorance or unintelligence because they have just had a different life and made different choices. In many cases it's also a matter of social oppression. The powers in the world intentionally oppress people and areas to promote lack of awareness and education so that they can be controlled. It is a complicated situation and I don't think it's fair to feel that anyone (we, on this forum for example) are better than others. Another of my professors might call it a contingency/luck issues by referencing Jarod Diamond - Guns, Germs, and Steel. People are born into different situations as doogles post also made clear. One might argue that we are all born the same and have the same chance of success and point out how Arnold S went from no one to governor of California or several other cases, but I still think there is a matter of luck involved there, and in a pyramidal system, not everyone can be at the top.

This all goes back to why I often take what I called above "the environmental perspective." Accepting that people might not be ignorant/oblivious, but just different and I have to accept and appreciate diversity. I can learn from it. I won't name a specific one, but there might be an animal or creature that annoys the heck out of you. I ask what is it's purpose in the world, in the food chain? Now think hard because it does have at least an indirect purpose that is probably important to you somehow. Does it keep you on your toes and present challenges? If we had no challenges, then we wouldn't grow. The animal is just different, just like other people can be. Someone might not like me comparing animals to humans, but let go of your ego please. We live in a world of contingency/luck and interconnectedness that all supports each other and some of that support is in the form of challenges to grow, like the predator prey relationships. It all supports evolving in a changing world. Maybe in other words, humans can't live without gut bacteria, so who is to say that we are any better than the gut bacteria? All is important and I don't' think it's fair to claim anything or anyone is better than another. It really just depends on your perspective.

I wrote the next paragraph without posting last night, but saving it to post after I got some sleep.

Athena » Thu Jul 02, 2015 10:52 pm wrote:So I question if any good can come out of arguing with them. What could they possibly teach me about culture? They may know something, but it is not what we are discussing.



I'm not saying that their rudeness is cool by any means and they might not be able to teach/share in much of "Enlightenment" or "Age of Reason", but the perspective I was thinking of was that they will perhaps teach you what the world is up against or you are up against. They certainly teach a person how to have self restraint from violence. haha (joke). Maybe remind us of the past and what children are like (which is exactly what doogles post contained). You can learn a lot by simple observation. They can teach us how to get along in a changing world so weird, awful, and strange to us because we will have to contemplate on how to handle, it which is exactly the purpose of this thread. So I guess we learn patience and how to maintain our cool as long as we are willing to try to make ourselves better rather than fall into the trap of turning into disrespectful bitter rude uncaring misanthropes like others can at any age. They can rub off on us, but it's important to maintain a positive attitude. More importantly they can teach us how to interact with others that are different from us, and you can maybe rub off on them or teach them a thing or two along the way even if it's not so clear at present. They can teach us to be a better communicator and teacher that wants to educate the younger generation for a better future.

If anyone can watch the documentary mentioned above, "Happy", I thought about it more reading the most recent posts. I didn't talk much about the segment where the guy travels to schools giving talks about bullying, but I think you all might enjoy it.

Going back to doogles post, I think that is one reason Okinawa is so happy and long lived. They work closely with their children and all ages are always in social situations interacting with one another. It's also the theme of Denmark (ranked the happiest country on several occasions). The opposite side was Japan mainland where people are always working and the least happy, but in Okinawa when people can have the time to spend with their children and interact with one another, there takes place a lot of communication and the important point doogles is making is that communication allows children to work into their culture becoming socially aware. There is less of a chance of bullying, or awkwardness because people are giving each other feedback easier since they have close relationships.

The problem I see is that the world is a mixing pot right now. We have so many cultures coming together that it is hard to communicate. Throw in there a government or economic system that is pressuring citizens to achieve, (Japan?), or make and spend money for their growing economy (US), then you have some real ego, power, and pride problems to go along with lack of communication abilities. Again, I think that it is important to have a diversity, in this case of cultures. One fear is the world becoming a monoculture. Diversity is important because it helps give us other perspectives and ways to look at things. Biomimicry is an example of using the diversity in nature to invent and engineer new and better products. I don't know the answer, but I hope that the world can eventually learn to communicate and be that mixing pot while still keeping diversity.
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Re: Dealing with Ignorance

Postby Athena on July 3rd, 2015, 1:52 pm 

neuro » July 3rd, 2015, 7:21 am wrote:
doogles » July 3rd, 2015, 11:38 am wrote:The more new knowledge I glean from this forum, the more ignorant I realise I really am.

You sure are not alone in this.

My two cents, in this conversation, would be that the problem generally is not in dealing with "ignorance", but rather with stubbornness and mental rigidity.

I believe that the richness and variety of (practical, intellectual, relational) experience help a lot in developing mental elasticity, and the willingness to doubt and learn. Culture, and cultural interests, are the key to this.
So, "ignorance" and lack of experiences make it more difficult to learn (and to consider other people's opinion).

The problem then is not how much "ignorant" one is, but how much she is opposed to learning, to doubt, to feel the slight vertigo of letting go of some "truth" that used to offer protection and certainty.

It is like flying. You cannot do it while keeping your feet solidly on the ground.
And you cannot show people how to fly - Athena - if they are afraid of letting go of the ground...


You hit the nail on the head, but I am not the person who can not fly. What you gave me is an insight into youths or not so young people, who have no self esteem, and are threatened with the possibility they don't know it all. What you said goes with what Paralith said.

My grandson who is full of potential but has zero self esteem and self confidence, will not take advantage of anything I offer him, but says, "No, thanks Grandma, but I am good". This is killing me and I keep praying for the day he finds what he is good at a soars, and is able to pay off his student loan that keeps getting bigger. The college thing was an extension of playing around and ended up in being thrown out. I keep hoping things will get better.

I have college lectures on science and technology for the future and he won't watch them. I bought him "Nanotechnology for Dummies" and he won't even look into the book. In the mean time he works a part time job and he hates it. He is lucky to afford a bus pass. At age 25, instead of looking into the future and where he might go with his life, he reads comic books with a friend who has brain damage. That is very nice of him and I am glad he found something he enjoys, but this is not a good place to come from if one wants to engage in arguments and prove he is smarter than everyone else.
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Re: Dealing with Ignorance

Postby Athena on July 3rd, 2015, 2:24 pm 

I also don't think it's at all fair to accuse others of ignorance or unintelligence because they have just had a different life and made different choices.


I have argued the meaning of the word "ignorance" before. We all seem to agree on what the word "ignore" means, and I think we might agree it is rude to ignore someone?

Someone gave a good explanation of the cultural reasons for ignoring what is happening and ignoring others. With so much coming at us from so many directions, shutting down become a matter of survival. Awareness of that gives me some sympathy for people who are ignoring information, until they enter a debate. If you want to jump into a debate about culture or gravity, it is a good idea to be informed enough to argue the points made with logic, and if one is not well informed to ask questions. Asking questions is a a for sure end to ignorance. Not because a person instantly absorbs all the information, but because to ask questions is the opposite of ignoring.

It is when we add the suffix "ance" to "ignore" that we loose our agreement about meaning. The verb is an action, and the action is to ignore. The suffice "ance" turns the verb into a noun. That is ignorance is a choice, not an unavoidable limit on intelligence. That choice is a choice to be rude, because it is rude to ignore what someone is saying, and it prevents personal growth.

Who ever complained about someone who asks questions? I don't think this is about judging someone's IQ, but it is judging a person's behavior in a relationship. We are all flattered when someone asks us a question, aren't we? However, when we ask a question, hoping to encourage thinking about a concept, and the person replies with something like, "I am not going to answer your question" and proceeds to make a personal attack, then perhaps we have "ignorance"?
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Re: Dealing with Ignorance

Postby zetreque on July 3rd, 2015, 2:36 pm 

Athena, On the internet it is hard to know where that person is coming from and their age. They might be a young child still figuring out the world, or an adult trying to figure out the world still and no one has gotten through to him/her yet. In real life we can not know who a person is even after years of knowing them. I think doogles post is relevant in that it would help if you could gain insight into that person, the stage they are at in life and all the forces surrounding that.
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Re: Dealing with Ignorance

Postby Athena on July 3rd, 2015, 6:58 pm 

Braininvat » July 3rd, 2015, 7:54 am wrote:Seems like it's that "willingness to doubt" that gets suppressed in many cultures or subcultures. Many thoughtful posts here...I want to mull them over a bit and keep following this. I've lived in places where there is so much ignorance and closed minds...for the sake of my sanity, I had to learn to be amused by it (in myself, as well as others). It is so often a way people have of protecting themselves from a world that changes too fast and seems baffling in its complexity and ambiguities.



I love what you have said. I may be all wrong, but I think modern education is making matters worse. There is too much pressure to teach for the test, and for the student to correctly memorize the information on the test, which is completely different from learning to think. Then there is this insane pressure to be superior, at the top of the class, most competitive, because for God's sake if you are not, you may never get a college education, and will be locked out of good jobs.

When I started college, a C grade was just fine. Research had shown students with C grades were most apt to do well in real life. It was assumed this was because C students had well-rounded lives. Now a C student is a reject, will not get the degree, will not pass go and will not collect $200. The pressure is so intense, parents push their 3-year-olds to be academic superstars. I am afraid we are robbing our children of their childhood.

On the other hand Asian parents tend to be very demanding of the children and they are doing very well in school. While Blacks are doing poorly, Asians are doing better than Whites statistically. Asian children do not appear to be unhappy, but I have heard in Japan, especially men, are dying early because they are pushing themselves too hard.
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Re: Dealing with Ignorance

Postby Athena on July 3rd, 2015, 7:40 pm 

zetreque » July 3rd, 2015, 12:36 pm wrote:Athena, On the internet it is hard to know where that person is coming from and their age. They might be a young child still figuring out the world, or an adult trying to figure out the world still and no one has gotten through to him/her yet. In real life we can not know who a person is even after years of knowing them. I think doogles post is relevant in that it would help if you could gain insight into that person, the stage they are at in life and all the forces surrounding that.


A mature person knows how much our thinking changes over years, and how little we know when we are young, and it is rare for a young person to understand that. Words do not do justice to having the experience of realizing the meaning of "the more we know, the more we know how little we know". When we realize even if we lived 300 years, and studied every day of our lives, we still wouldn't know much, because there is just too much to know, we become very humble. We look back on our know it all days and laugh at ourselves. We understand why it might be a good idea to listen to an older person. That is not because we think we are so bloody smart everyone should listen to us. It is knowing something wonderful happens to our thinking when we pass 50.

I am quite sure young people know many more facts than I know, and I am also quite sure they do not understand the meaning of those facts as they will when they pass 60. We joke about needing the children to help us with the new technology, and marvel at what they know and can do so easily. We joke about having senior moments and at the same time pray we don't have Alzheimer's disease. And yet when it comes to understanding history and something like the Enlightenment, we "get it" as we could never realize the deeper meaning this human experience, before. But please, do not give a smart phone and expect me to know how to use it! Like some young people are very sure they can do just fine in life, never knowing a thing about the Enlightenment, I am sure I can live without the frustration of a phone making me feel like an idiot.

I think having more knowledge of how our brains change as we age, would very much improve our judgment and relationships.

An 8-year old's brain is nothing like a 5-year-old brain. By age 8 the brain is literally changed and functions differently. We now say the brain isn't fully mature until age 25, but it is not until age 30 that our personality is set, and these major changes keep happening, almost like the stages of the butterfly from larvae to a cocoon to a completely different reassembled butterfly.

Laugh, I just underwent a brain test for my insurance company and surprised the young lady with how well I can count backwards by 3's. I laugh, because 2 months ago, I would have struggled to subtract 3 from the original number and would have a complete mental breakdown from there. But I have been practicing counting backwards by 3 so it is easy for me. If she picked any other number I could not have done well. In the past, such test have put me in tears. My brain is not as good as the test results. The test proves nothing about my mental ability to count backwards by any number other than 3. I am not the smart person she thinks I am. I also don't think I know more than a young person. I think my brain functions differently than it did before 50 years of age, and I think there is value in that difference.
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Re: Dealing with Ignorance

Postby Serpent on July 3rd, 2015, 7:49 pm 

Talk about ignorance! I was going to cite suicide statistics that link youthful despair with stressful academic demands, but it turns out to be far, far more complicated. World wide, it's climbing; mostly, it seems, because of no expectations - bleak futures.

PS I could do the counting backwards trick - but only if they start at 99. If they start at 100, or 77, or 48, I'm an idiot. (Probably, they make allowance for mental gear-changes.)
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Re: Dealing with Ignorance

Postby Athena on July 3rd, 2015, 8:05 pm 

Serpent and Zetreque. I think this is a very important comment, made by Zetreque.

They work closely with their children and all ages are always in social situations interacting with one another.


Oh my goodness, I think I just had a revelation? In this thread there appears to be a battle between the old and the young, as there is a battle between Blacks and Whites. People are increasingly pitted against each other, when they should be working together.

As I said, us old folks need the young folks in dealing with today's technology, but us old folks may be realizing something about our humanness and the evolution of history and national ideals, that may be of value too?
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Re: Dealing with Ignorance

Postby zetreque on July 3rd, 2015, 8:31 pm 

Athena » Fri Jul 03, 2015 5:05 pm wrote:Serpent and Zetreque. I think this is a very important comment, made by Zetreque.

They work closely with their children and all ages are always in social situations interacting with one another.


Oh my goodness, I think I just had a revelation? In this thread there appears to be a battle between the old and the young, as there is a battle between Blacks and Whites. People are increasingly pitted against each other, when they should be working together.

As I said, us old folks need the young folks in dealing with today's technology, but us old folks may be realizing something about our humanness and the evolution of history and national ideals, that may be of value too?


Lots of clips on youtube from the documentary.
Can't find the Okinawa segment in English, but this looks like the makeing of video for it. Doesn't touch on the point where all ages interact though as in the actual segment.


Here is the clip about the guy that travels around speaking to schools. The examples shown of Okinawa and Denmark they all communicate with one another as a family and not strangers bullying each other.



This feels off topic, but it's actually related to getting social feedback to fit into society. Learning what is rude, and what isn't. That is related to the complaints here about ignorance because it's lack of communication. I postulate that it goes back to starting at a young age to getting social feedback and having good close relationships with your community members. That helps the underlying problem which is communication.
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Re: Dealing with Ignorance

Postby Serpent on July 3rd, 2015, 11:21 pm 

Athena » July 3rd, 2015, 7:05 pm wrote:Serpent and Zetreque. I think this is a very important comment, made by Zetreque.

They work closely with their children and all ages are always in social situations interacting with one another.


Oh my goodness, I think I just had a revelation? In this thread there appears to be a battle between the old and the young, as there is a battle between Blacks and Whites. People are increasingly pitted against each other, when they should be working together.

As I said, us old folks need the young folks in dealing with today's technology, but us old folks may be realizing something about our humanness and the evolution of history and national ideals, that may be of value too?

In the communities I live close to, children are usually included in market days, performance art and festivals. One thing that struck me is how well behaved even the little ones are at a concert and in the library. I think it's easier for parents in small towns than in cities, where the level of fear is high and they feel the need to be protective - to keep their children under guard all the time. There, children have no freedom and are isolated.

One thing I believe very damaging to communities is the closing of village and schools and centralizing busing all the children to larger centers. The schools are far better staffed and equipped, but the children have to spend too much time on the road, and still must do homework, which doesn't give them very much leisure time for social interactions. Of course, the tv, personal computer and cell-phones are not helping. In this respect, poverty is a blessing in - rather thin - disguise. They need to get outside a lot more! Well, everyone does.

I didn't notice a battle. Will re-read tomorrow with fresh eyes and attention to age-divide.
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Re: Dealing with Ignorance

Postby Athena on July 4th, 2015, 1:48 am 

Serpent » July 3rd, 2015, 9:21 pm wrote:
Athena » July 3rd, 2015, 7:05 pm wrote:Serpent and Zetreque. I think this is a very important comment, made by Zetreque.

They work closely with their children and all ages are always in social situations interacting with one another.


Oh my goodness, I think I just had a revelation? In this thread there appears to be a battle between the old and the young, as there is a battle between Blacks and Whites. People are increasingly pitted against each other, when they should be working together.

As I said, us old folks need the young folks in dealing with today's technology, but us old folks may be realizing something about our humanness and the evolution of history and national ideals, that may be of value too?

In the communities I live close to, children are usually included in market days, performance art and festivals. One thing that struck me is how well behaved even the little ones are at a concert and in the library. I think it's easier for parents in small towns than in cities, where the level of fear is high and they feel the need to be protective - to keep their children under guard all the time. There, children have no freedom and are isolated.

One thing I believe very damaging to communities is the closing of village and schools and centralizing busing all the children to larger centers. The schools are far better staffed and equipped, but the children have to spend too much time on the road, and still must do homework, which doesn't give them very much leisure time for social interactions. Of course, the tv, personal computer and cell-phones are not helping. In this respect, poverty is a blessing in - rather thin - disguise. They need to get outside a lot more! Well, everyone does.

I didn't notice a battle. Will re-read tomorrow with fresh eyes and attention to age-divide.


I think I have gained much from this thread, and something that has popped up a couple of times is social breakdown and isolation. I started volunteering the Boys and Girls Club, and the top leadership is very concerned about rebuilding community ties. They want to have parents and grandparents meeting and supporting each other, as well as working with kids. I witnessed children getting a lot of time with adults who are there to play with them and interact socially, addressing behavior and success issues. I am feeling very positive about the efforts.

I think there are reasons to feel positive about the future. I think Kant was right about knowledge making life better. What kind of knowledge makes life better?
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