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Thread: Sympathy for the Ignorant

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    Content Thief Elixir's Avatar
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    I try not to condemn people for ignorance or stupidity unless it's willful. And that's not an easy determination in many cases. In the environment created by the Trump presidency I find myself becoming less and less reticent to let my anger at the willfully stupid to overwhelm my empathy for those who are biologically or circumstantially handicapped through no fault of their own. That is something for which I deeply resent the orange menace. In the case of someone like SH's friend who is intelligent but chooses to only watch FOX News (I know a few like that too), I make at least one attempt to get them to expose themselves to some other sources of factual information. If they're unwilling to "look through the glass" I mostly write them off.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elixir View Post
    I try not to condemn people for ignorance or stupidity unless it's willful. And that's not an easy determination in many cases. In the environment created by the Trump presidency I find myself becoming less and less reticent to let my anger at the willfully stupid to overwhelm my empathy for those who are biologically or circumstantially handicapped through no fault of their own. That is something for which I deeply resent the orange menace. In the case of someone like SH's friend who is intelligent but chooses to only watch FOX News (I know a few like that too), I make at least one attempt to get them to expose themselves to some other sources of factual information. If they're unwilling to "look through the glass" I mostly write them off.
    I understand how you feel but I'm just not convinced that there is such. a thing as willful ignorance. Let me give you an example of what happens when someone criticizes a Trump supporter who watches Fox News. My next door neighbor, who is a Democrat, has a hard time ignoring the Trump supporters in her family, so she gets into arguments with them on Facebook. Last week, after telling one of them how corrupt Trump was, the person replied with something like, "you need to do some research and learn the facts". In other words, I think their minds have been so indoctrinated by Fox and Trump, that they honestly believe the NYTimes, WaPo, CNN et all, are fake news and we're the ones who are being mislead. I don't know how you can influence a person who has been deeply indoctrinated. Are many of them even capable of changing or considering that they aren't getting the facts from their favorite source of "news".

    As far as my friend, we just totally avoid any discussion of politics and religion. We're not really that close, but we respect each other as nurses. Most of our short conversations are about nursing or female stuff. I only see her about once a year and we usually just text each other. She knows that I identify as a secular liberal and I know she loves Fox News because when I used to visit Facebook, I saw some of the nutty political things she posted. I doubt that trying to convince her to look at sources of factual information would do anything but alienate her. I also doubt we could ever be very close friends, although we have mutual respect and affection for each other as humans.

    But, there are times when I would love to scream at my nutty "redneck" neighbors who sometimes drive a huge pick up truck with a huge Trump banner hanging off of the back of it. I don't know them personally so it's best for my mental health to simply ignore them. On the other hand, my next door neighbor gets herself into a tizzy over anyone who has a Trump sign in their yards etc. I guess she can't help it. There's some nut job about a mile from our homes who has a sign in the yard that reads, "NEVER HILLARY". It's been there for over three years. It drives my neighbor nuts, while I think it makes the people in that house look hateful and nuts. It's no sweat off me.

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    Elder Contributor Keith&Co.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by southernhybrid View Post
    I understand how you feel but I'm just not convinced that there is such. a thing as willful ignorance.
    How about a senator choosing not to read the deposition transcripts?

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    Content Thief Elixir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith&Co. View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by southernhybrid View Post
    I understand how you feel but I'm just not convinced that there is such. a thing as willful ignorance.
    How about a senator choosing not to read the deposition transcripts?
    Zackly. There are the victims who are too clueless to know they are ignorant, and those who are truly willfully ignorant or who feign ignorance in order to take advantage of the victims.

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    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elixir View Post
    I try not to condemn people for ignorance or stupidity unless it's willful. And that's not an easy determination in many cases. In the environment created by the Trump presidency I find myself becoming less and less reticent to let my anger at the willfully stupid to overwhelm my empathy for those who are biologically or circumstantially handicapped through no fault of their own. That is something for which I deeply resent the orange menace. In the case of someone like SH's friend who is intelligent but chooses to only watch FOX News (I know a few like that too), I make at least one attempt to get them to expose themselves to some other sources of factual information. If they're unwilling to "look through the glass" I mostly write them off.
    Well said. In most cases it probably requires some direct interaction to determine if someone is willfully avoiding the facts. I'd usually avoid that person entirely except when it's a relationship I need to maintain at work or within my family. In that case I avoid the subject and try to improve the relationship regarding everything else. That way there's always some hope they will be influenced to change their mind.

    But I'd rather not get all emotionally tied into individual stupidity. Life is too short and my opinion isn't that important. I'm not running for office and I value my objectivity too much to get caught up running around in circles. Especially in today's climate of Trump and gaslighting. That said I am worried about where our country is headed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith&Co. View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by southernhybrid View Post
    I understand how you feel but I'm just not convinced that there is such. a thing as willful ignorance.
    How about a senator choosing not to read the deposition transcripts?
    I don't know. They have put their personal goals ahead of everything else. Can they help it? I honestly don't know. Do I despise these people? Yes! I can't help myself either. If you believe in the concept of free will, then you can judge them as doing something willfully ignorant. If you don't believe or are skeptical of the concept of free will, then there's no such thing as willful ignorance, is there? I tend to think that we only have the illusion of freewill. If I really believe that, I can't accept the concept of willful ignorance.

    These senators are probably not sociopaths, but they would need to be convinced that they need to change their opinion and do the right thing. Unless they can be convinced to change, they will likely continue down this harmful path. It's sort of like what I mentioned earlier. Can a bad person change his behavior? Probably not unless there are circumstances which help the person understand that the behavior is wrong.

    When it comes to tRump himself, I see him as mentally deranged and incapable of changing. When it comes to the Senators, it's possible they could change if the right circumstances were to happen. Am I totally disgusted with them? Absolutely. But, something must influence them to make them change. It appears right now, as if the only thing that will influence them may be if enough of their constituents start to see that Trump is doing could result in irreparable damage to the country. Or, maybe some of them will wake the fuck up and realize they are aiding an incompetent, dangerous man. I didn't mean to make this a political discussion, but considering what is going on in the US, it's difficult not to make everything about politics.
    Last edited by southernhybrid; 11-12-2019 at 03:35 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith&Co. View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by southernhybrid View Post
    I understand how you feel but I'm just not convinced that there is such. a thing as willful ignorance.
    How about a senator choosing not to read the deposition transcripts?
    Quote Originally Posted by Elixir View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Keith&Co. View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by southernhybrid View Post
    I understand how you feel but I'm just not convinced that there is such. a thing as willful ignorance.
    How about a senator choosing not to read the deposition transcripts?
    Zackly. There are the victims who are too clueless to know they are ignorant, and those who are truly willfully ignorant or who feign ignorance in order to take advantage of the victims.
    That would be a different issue. If someone is consciously choosing to remain ignorant, that's not ignorance and outside the scope of this thread. We're looking at those people who are too clueless to know.

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    Would you consider people who follow a cult leader to be ignorant, or brainwashed? If you follow a leader blindly, is that different from being ignorant? It does seem complicated.

    Let's take Jim Jones for example, the cult leader who got his followers to literally drink the poison Kool Aide and die. Weren't those people ignorant of the fact that their leader was about to cause them to die? Or am I way off track from the intent of your OP, Rousseau? If so, I'll stop bringing up the brainwashed cult followers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by southernhybrid View Post
    Would you consider people who follow a cult leader to be ignorant, or brainwashed? If you follow a leader blindly, is that different from being ignorant? It does seem complicated.

    Let's take Jim Jones for example, the cult leader who got his followers to literally drink the poison Kool Aide and die. Weren't those people ignorant of the fact that their leader was about to cause them to die? Or am I way off track from the intent of your OP, Rousseau? If so, I'll stop bringing up the brainwashed cult followers.
    I'm with you on the willful ignorance bit, I believe the line there is subtle and some of what we call willful ignorance, is in fact just plain ignorance. For example, some may call a Trumpster who refuses to use the internet to seek information 'willfully ignorant', when it's possible that the person in question just hasn't considered that possibility for whatever reason.

    Where in elixir and Keith's example it sounds like deception or disingenuousness rather than true ignorance.

    I'm not sure you would delineate between ignorant and brainwashed, but brainwashing may be a way to cause ignorance by deception. The brainwashed are ignorant to reality, but the ignorant to reality aren't always brainwashed.
    Last edited by rousseau; 11-12-2019 at 08:17 PM. Reason: spelling

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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by southernhybrid View Post
    Would you consider people who follow a cult leader to be ignorant, or brainwashed? If you follow a leader blindly, is that different from being ignorant? It does seem complicated.

    Let's take Jim Jones for example, the cult leader who got his followers to literally drink the poison Kool Aide and die. Weren't those people ignorant of the fact that their leader was about to cause them to die? Or am I way off track from the intent of your OP, Rousseau? If so, I'll stop bringing up the brainwashed cult followers.
    I'm with you on the willful ignorance bit, I believe the line there is subtle and some of what we call willful ignorance, is in fact just plain ignorance. For example, some may call a Trumpster who refuses to use the internet to seek information 'willfully ignorant', when it's possible that the person in question just hasn't considered that possibility for whatever reason.

    Where in elixir and Keith's example it sounds like deception or disingenuousness rather than true ignorance.

    I'm not sure you would delineate between ignorant and brainwashed, but brainwashing may be a way to cause ignorance by deception. The brainwashed are ignorant to reality, but the ignorant to reality aren't always brainwashed.
    It seems to me that brainwashing is the result of being just plain ignorant. Not many people are willfully ignorant of brainwashing and gaslighting methods. Probably none of us are completely immune to it. But it does take an act of will to ignore evidence and rational arguments for why they are mistaken. The thing is a victim of brainwashing has to overcome lots of conflicting reasons to ignore those arguments.

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