I like discovering a new word, and am excited to see this one: Agnotology. I learned it today in this profile of Stanford University researcher Robert Proctor, an agnotologist.

Very succinctly, agnotology is the study of intentionally inducing ignorance, or as people I used to work with would put it: spreading FUD.

That is, the daily work of thousands of people, employed in a large segment of corporate America. Their job it is to make sure that people do not understand something, say, like vaccines safety or climate change that might interfere with profitability. I guess if “it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it” then some corollary says it should be easy for another man to help many men not understand something if his salary depends on how many other men do not understand it.

Or something.

Anyway, with so much intentionally-induced ignorance pervading our universe these days, like the dark side of the force, I was happy to see that at least the activity has a name. I wish the agnotologists well, and hope they will come up with some kind of cure or vaccine that will help us contain the stupid-industrial complex that has come to so pervade our lives and politics.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *