Monday, 4 November 2019

Fabricated ignorance

The Witches' Ride

I’ve been thinking about ignorance recently. What do I know about ignorance? Quite a lot I suppose, but ignorance is a rum notion isn’t it? Throughout human history there has been a type of knowledge which is not knowledge at all because it is wrong, obsolete or simply nonsense.

For example, any modern person may understand the social pressures whereby witches came to be accused of witchcraft. Yet it is not possible to know how witchcraft actually works because it doesn’t. Nobody ever knew in any meaningful sense so it is not possible to be ignorant about the workings of witchcraft.

Obviously we may be ignorant of many things, ignorant of facts, social conventions or quirks of personality, but some forms of knowledge are fabricated. Fabricated knowledge serves a number of purposes, political, social and economic and is often used to establish a form of social superiority via fabricated ignorance.

Suppose we invent an idea –

Mortifying as it may be so some observers, the thematic betrayal or certain obscurantist norms in wider fields of observation than is usual for such arcane matters will in the end have a debilitating thrust is spheres far removed from its intransigent beginnings.

What does this mean? It means nothing.

Conventionally it seems as if anyone could be ignorant as to the meaning of the statement. Yet the statement is meaningless so ignorance about its meaning is ignorance about nothing - in other words fabricated ignorance.

Similarly one may be ignorant about astrology. Not the public face of astrological prediction, but its supposed working principles. Here again, as astrology is nonsense it is not possible to be ignorant about astrological mechanisms because there aren’t any. This would be another example of fabricated ignorance. It wasn’t always the case of course, because astrology was consistent with early cosmology, but now it isn’t consistent.

In general, those who dabble in nonsense defend the nonsense by suggesting that critics do not understand it so the critics are simply ignorant. Similarly those who see little value in attempting to understand it are equally ignorant. It’s a dilemma for the critics – a fabricated dilemma.

As we know, proponents of gender politics are engaged in a battle against biological facts. Anyone who asserts that there are only two genders is supposedly ignorant about the social nature of gender. Again this is an example of fabricated ignorance - gender is not socially assigned.

The catastrophic climate change narrative is much the same. A core aspect of the narrative revolves around fabricated ignorance. One has to be an approved climate scientist or a celebrity to understand why catastrophic climate predictions are valid says the narrative. Anything less is ignorance.

Yet as nobody knows how to make those predictions there is nothing to understand and therefore no ignorance. This gives narrative proponents an inbuilt advantage because it inevitably draws critics into an impossible swamp of drivel as they do not wish to stay on the sidelines and be dismissed as ignorant.

This seems to give us a key point. A vital aspect of the climate narrative has been the manner in which it aims to fabricate ignorance within the general population, including bureaucrats, journalists and politicians. It does not build knowledge so much as fabricate ignorance. That remains the core political aim.

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