Ignorance is Bliss

I’m of two minds about being politically active. On the one hand, I’m happier when I don’t think about any political issues. While I try to be open minded, I’m also pretty opinionated about things. Particularly things that I’ve done enough reading about to feel that I know enough to know when some ideas are “bad”. What I mean by “bad ideas”, are the ideas that would have a different effect than the person suggesting the idea claims to want. Whether or not this is done to mislead or out of ignorance, intentional or caused by confirmation bias, these are the ideas that really rile me up.

When I am faced with these “bad” ideas, I want to try and correct them. Usually, that means sharing the reasons why the idea won’t do what you want it to do, either by providing missing facts or explaining false logic. Sometimes, people appreciate this.

However, most times people do not appreciate learning that ideas are bad. Especially if you agree with the “bad” idea. This can lead to bad arguments, where instead of sharing new information, ¬†it just gets ugly. I don’t like ugly arguments. But I also don’t like people being misled and believing/supporting an idea that, if they actually thought about it, they wouldn’t agree with. This can lead to bad blood and can be frustrating.

Of course, this problem is made worse when the person I’m arguing with thinks I’m the ignorant one. Sometimes I am. I admit I’m wrong. But some people never admit that about themselves, and talking/arguing with them is like talking/arguing with a wall.

I also have a tendency to go overboard with things. Not in a crazy person kind of way. But in a saturation kind of way. I’ll talk about something to frequently. Or become too pushy about it. Or post way to much stuff, so that my Facebook feed is just a stream of links. Then I worry, that instead of educating people about something, I’m just causing people to tune me out.

For those reasons, I sometimes think it would be best if I just joined the ignorant masses. I would be happier not thinking about most of the world and the countries problems. I live a comfortable middle-class life and most of these problems do not directly affect me. I wouldn’t alienate people by making dozens of Facebook or blog postings. I could just be a geek, talking about Star Wars, games and writing my book.

But, I also know that is the exact reason many problems exist. It’s a tired old example, but the Nazi didn’t come to power because everyone in Germany was a Nazi. When the majority is silent, it’s the extreme minorities that hold power. Also, for more cliche speech, the rules are made by those who show up.

Remaining quiet about things just allows ignorance to persist. And ignorance allows all kinds of “bad” ideas to flourish.

There are people who are willing to listen, and actually start thinking about things before coming to a conclusion. I’ve actually had success with some people. My parents for example. For the longest time they were card carrying Republicans. Always voted that way. Hated Socialism. Hated Taxes. Hated Big Government. Believed they were Conservatives.

But they really weren’t. They were far more progressive and liberal than they thought. My Dad has been a Star Trek fan from the beginning. He agreed with most of the tenants of the Federation; society working together, everyone being equal, etc etc. My Mom is a true Christian; believing in helping the poor, giving of herself, not pushing her faith on others, etc etc. As I became more politically conscious and started thinking about things, I would point out the hypocrisy between their beliefs and their politics. It didn’t always go well at first.¬†Eventually they started to think about things. We don’t agree on everything now. But they no longer just vote Republican without thinking.

So, that’s why I’m conflicted. People can learn to not just take everything they hear at face value. But it also forces me to constantly be aware of all of the ignorance, and to remain informed about the problems so that I can try to make non ignorant decisions. It’s hard to do and I might be happier just not thinking about it.

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3 Responses to Ignorance is Bliss

  1. Jamie Holts says:

    Thanks for posting the article, was certainly a great read!

  2. Sienn'lyn says:

    I’d never want to be part of the silent majority, or as I prefer to call them: The unthinking majority.

    That said, a tendency I’ve noticed is that it’s pretty much impossible to discuss politics or religion on the Internet. It is more or less impossible to make people change their minds with Internet as the forum for a discussion, and most political and religious debates will just end in a pointless flamewar. It’s much easier to make those who you know in person change their mind and start to think on various subjects, as it seems you have been able to do before. Political blogs usually just seems to be read by those of a similar mindset as the author and those who are there to spam the comment fields.

  3. Maarkean says:

    That’s a very good point Sienn. People are always much more willing to listen to other people when it’s in person.