Willfull Ignorance

Ever been in a situation where you tried to convince a friend or colleague about a particular issue you’re certain is fact but totally out of line with their beliefs and all you get is unnecessary argument and even violence. i’m there all the time.

Ignorant individuals are more likely to doubt the truth of the facts that contradict their own beliefs.
When the truth is difficult for us to handle, our mind then interprets things differently. We see & hear what we want, avoiding the truth.

Willful ignorance is the state and practice of ignoring any sensory input that appears to contradict one’s inner model of reality. At heart, it is almost certainly driven by confirmation bias. Depending on the nature and strength of an individual’s pre-existing beliefs, willful ignorance can manifest itself in different ways. The practice can entail completely disregarding established facts, evidence and/or reasonable opinions if they fail to meet one’s expectations. Often excuses will be made, stating that the source is unreliable, that the experiment was flawed or the opinion is too biased. More often than not this is simple circular reasoning.

In other cases, slightly more extreme cases, willful ignorance can involve outright refusal to read, hear or study, in any way, anything that does not conform to the person’s worldview. With regard to oneself, this can even extend to fake locked-in syndrome with complete unresponsiveness. Or with regard to others, to outright censorship of the material from others. Often verbal attacks or outright violence is expected as a way of defence.

Be aware that willful ignorance is a mechanism that actually protects the brain from becoming unable to function in situations that it just can’t handle. An individual can never accept its whole own reality being meaningless or making no sense, as that would make it impossible to act towards any goal. Forcing an individual into such a state has psychologically been found to be comparable to the death of the higher developed parts of the brain from an outside perspective.

This means that the morally right way to treat such individuals is not to look down upon, ridicule or attack them, but to help them to be able to accept reality again. Even if it will be tough as hell!


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