Of Best Laid Plans

To a popular Mouse…

That small heap of leaves and stubble,
Has cost you many a weary nibble!
Now you are turned out, for all your trouble,
Without house or holding,
To endure the winter’s sleety dribble,
And hoar-frost cold.

But Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid plans of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

In less than ten days I will be moved out of our family’s rural 10-acre, 2,850 sq. ft. Ranchita home (FINALLY!), and soon be returning to my life and particular unconventional lifestyle in the enormous thriving DFW Metroplex I had over 3-years ago, of which does not and cannot exist in a tiny rural central Texas town. HAH!

Oh how I have missed my life up there, my appetites quenched up there, and my tribe up there. It has been far too long. But my strong duties to family, their well-being, and of familial values we hold from multiple generations back to 17th century Europe and nine generations here in Texas, refused to let me be so self-centered. I answered the desperate need that in the end took three long, exhausting years and every summer break the last five. It is coming to an end and very soon will be the start of the next phase of life in one of several of my cherished homes: Dallas-Fort Worth.

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As the 5th largest metropolitan area in North America, Dallas (the bigger half shown above) has two major airports (DFW International & Love Field) that boost an eclectic world flavor, many recreational parks with 11 large lakes, arboretums, museums, sports complexes/stadiums, including a pro soccer club, and a very good, extensive public transit system for eco-friendly Green-lifers, festivals galore throughout the year, a very large Steampunk community, and an exceptionally diverse nightlife with, yes you guessed it… a gigantic alternative-lifestyles communities, events, and network found nowhere else in the state in size or participation, bar none.

Am I beyond excited? Does the tin-man have a sheet-metal cock!? Okay, back on topic.

I had planned in vain foresight to post my Excursion to Perversions — II post well before now, however, “The best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew.” Interruptions have plagued my well-intended superior blogging time and skills — ‘cept a few various comments on other blogs — at the expense of leaving all of you in but grief and pain for promised blog-joys undelivered! Ghastly I know. Thus, my apology here, now, and likely beyond the New Year’s Day and week. In many ways I will be starting a new phase, a new life in a renewed but familiar place among very familiar friends and new ones yet discovered. WordPress and personal blogging must take a temporary back seat until then.

Meanwhile, I’ll pop-in every so often, see what’s about and what trouble I can find. 😈 😉

Everyone have a safe, sensational holiday season with friends and family, and a marvelous, safe New Year’s Eve and Day! Cheers!

Live Well Love Much Laugh Often Learn Always

Christmas_Lights

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Not Who You Thought?

There is a prevalent social riddle that I don’t quite understand. It baffles me frankly. When I get perplexed like this I like to write or journal, or get into some stimulating banter keeping the topic light while at the same time have meaningful reflection. So here goes…

How’s the Table d’Hôte?

Do you like choices in life? In foods at a grocer or on a restaurant menu, choices are very good, right? At a new or used car/truck dealership, do you like choices? How about a-or-bdifferently designed homes in neighborhoods shopping for your house? Airlines, cruise lines, or rental cars when traveling? Television cable networks? What about different genres of movies, TV shows, or music? Electric providers for home or business? Different sports or sports teams? How about various plants, trees, or flowers at a lawn and garden center? Or options in a free-enterprise (capitalism) economy where competition helps temper the consumer price index, your prices, your expenses and savings?

Or would you rather have no choices at all in those categories or only two… A or B? Let’s imagine for a minute what diversity, inclusion, interdisciplinary and multi-experiential learning offers each of us and as a whole.

Forms of Diversity

Most of us learned the basic sciences in secondary grades, 6th through 8th grades and expanded upon them through high school sciences. However, once the diploma was given and graduates are out the door to pursue their dreams, the majority of them understandably pursue the higher wages and rat-race of engineering, computer sciences, business and/or communications. Science, particularly Earth science, goes by the wayside and is usually forgotten. A quick crash-course…

Biological (biodiversity)
The important interconnectedness of all Earth’s species and ecosystems can never be overstated. Each species on our planet, including humans, directly or indirectly rely on the services of another chain of species for survival. The nitrogen cycle is one of three vital biochemical cycles all living organisms depend upon. Nitrogen atoms are found in all proteins and DNA, the foundation of all life. Animals that depend on soil, bacteria, and plants also feed humans. A healthy human diet includes a variety of food groups that come from a balanced diverse ecosystem that protects fresh water sources, clean breathable air, nutrient recycling, pollution breakdown, medicinal resources, and recovery from unpredictable catastrophic events. Hence, each organism, microscopic or gargantuan, is a type of insurance policy for others. And finally the simple awe and wonder of Nature’s resilience, mysteries, and beauty gives us endless psychological benefits like reduced anxiety and increased levels of serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine to name just three.

Genetic diversity
genotype-phenotype_diagramA genetic blueprint is inside every living organism not just for birth, but equally for restoration. An organism’s physical form and function is partly determined by its genotypes, but also phenotypically by its particular environment. Genetic diversity helps organisms cope with historic ranges of environmental variabilities for example in weather, population sizes of competitors, resource availability, or disturbance events. A group of organisms that live within a very normative, stable physical and biological environment, consequently a relatively narrow range of phenotypes will typically adapt optimally to those narrow conditions. By contrast, if the environment is more challenging, unpredictable, and includes a wide-range of disease, parasites, and competitors/predators, then differences between individuals raise or reduce probabilities of survival and restoration. Since differences among organisms or individuals are determined partly by genotypes, population genetic theory predicts that in variable environments of polymorphic species with broader heterozygosity will better cope and persist compared to monomorphic species with narrow homozygosity. Basically, and genetically speaking, diversity within populations reduces potentially detrimental effects of uniformity.

Workplace diversity
Within a business organization diversity encompasses age, background (familial), cognitive styles, education, ethnic groups, gender, organizational functions and specialties, personality, race, tenure and more. How coworkers perceive themself and others factors into workplace dynamics. When human resource departments assess and implement their diversity management plans, multiple advantages are realized such as increased adaptability, broader service ranges (e.g. languages), various viewpoints for broader ideas and ingenuity, and higher proportional productivity, profit, and return on investments. As the global economy expands, in order to remain competitive attracting and retaining a wider-range of multicultural staff ensures future interviewing and hiring standards remain more up-to-date possibly avoiding or saving on litigation expenses.

Cultural diversity
There are a number of advantages created by cultural or social diversity in populations. People who have become bilingual or multilingual activate parts of their brain neurology that previously were dormant using strictly their native language (see this 2014 article in The Guardian). This rewiring or expanded wiring increases brain size and intellect. Variety enriches innovation leading to economic growth, improves access to jobs and increases job opportunities. This produces a vibrant community and lowers socioeconomic stagnation and depressions. For the youth of the population early exposure to ethnic and economic diversity prepares them for a multicultural student campus and world. Educational studies on cultural diversity in schools consistently demonstrate that this type exposure contributes significantly to academic development and higher cultural awareness and understanding, specifically harmful effects of prejudices and racism.

diversity-puzzle

Psychological-Intellectual diversity
Many psychologists find stable happiness and well-being are contributed to diversity and social inclusiveness. By adjusting our ways of communication with those from various ethnic backgrounds, ages, gender, personalities, etc, we improve our psychological and intellectual capacities as well as aid in others doing the same with us. In a 2016 scientific study called Do Something Different: Diversity and Inclusion, results showed three significant outcomes:

  • Someone with high inclusiveness was about four times more likely to have high wellbeing, compared to someone with low inclusiveness.
  • Someone with medium inclusiveness was twice as likely to have high wellbeing, compared to someone with low inclusiveness.
  • Someone with high inclusiveness was very unlikely (only 3% chance) to have low wellbeing.

The study also examined the effects of increased inclusiveness on coping skills, decision-making, dialogue with others, happiness, physical health, feeling valued, purpose in life, and close or intimate relationships. Five of these eight areas were exceptionally higher and the other three slightly higher. Conclusion? The more inclusive and diverse a person the better their well-being. According to this 2014 and 2017 Scientific American article, there are also three major intellectual benefits with embraced diversity:

  • Decades of research by organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists and demographers show that socially diverse groups (that is, those with a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation) are more innovative than homogeneous groups.
  • It seems obvious that a group of people with diverse individual expertise would be better than a homogeneous group at solving complex, nonroutine problems. It is less obvious that social diversity should work in the same way—yet the science shows that it does.
  • This is not only because people with different backgrounds bring new information. Simply interacting with individuals who are different forces group members to prepare better, to anticipate alternative viewpoints and to expect that reaching consensus will take effort.

Conclusion? Being around people who are different from us in multiple ways makes us more creative, more diligent, acutely smarter, and harder-working.

These five forms of diversity, inclusion, kinetic learning, better well-being, and progressive, positive life insurance-probabilities briefly demonstrate the immense value of myriad polygenous formulas or equations offer individuals and society. Diversification is an immeasurable treasure trove of higher living.

A Life and World Without Choices and Diversity

You go to your local cell phone dealer-store to purchase a phone. When you enter the 5,000 sq. ft. store you see the display-stand in the center and it holds only two phones and two phones only. “Why are there only two old phones?” you ask. The salesperson puzzled by your question answers, “Because that’s what you and our society has always accepted.

You enter your local grocery store with your long list of items for your kitchen. Upon entering you see row after row after row of one brand of bread, and on the other side only one brand of whole milk. That’s it. The previous four grocers you went to had the exact same thing. You find a grocery-clerk and ask, “Why are there only two items in all your grocery stores everywhere?” The clerk puzzled by your question answers, “Because that’s what you and our society has always wanted.

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After visiting five previous car dealerships, you walk onto another dealership to purchase an automobile. When you get onto the lot you see row after row of either Model-A Fords (one color) to the left and VW Bugs (one color) to the right. The salesperson approaches and you ask, “Why are there only two types of cars on your lot and everyone else’s?” Surprised by your question the reply is “Because that’s what you and our society has always wanted.

Ready to move into a newer different home, you arrive at another newly developed subdivision of homes for sell. The previous six neighborhoods were all the same. Driving through these streets you see too there are only two choices of dwellings, all with the same size lawns. Baffled you ask the head realtor, “Why are there only two types of homes in your subdivision and at everyone else’s?” She looks at you strangely and answers, “Because that’s what you and our society has always wanted.

Flipping on your new high-def television, you browse through the guide and astonishingly there are only two channels to select and absolutely no movie or sports channels. You call the TV provider and ask, “Why are there only two channels to watch, a 24-hour shopping channel and constant repeats of CBN?” The customer service rep chuckles then answers, “Because that’s what you and our society has always wanted.

Are you getting the idea? How many other analogies and mental paradigms can you imagine with strict oppressive conformity, no ingenuity, no higher untapped learning, and certainly no higher levels of well-being, experience and understanding? Imagine that for your entire life.

There is another reality as well. Amusingly, how many people — at least privately or secretly — actually do exactly what they want/desire and fly in the face (or behind the back) of social norms, the mainstream, and their partner/spouse? If so, why the public charade?

∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ § ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼

Why then do we restrict ourselves, imprison ourselves(?) in human interactions and relationships composed of possibly better or expansive emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical-sexual understanding, growth, and maturity in ourselves and others, from opportunity after opportunity ad infinitum, to one or only a small handful of people all, or the vast majority of our lives… when we essentially don’t do it or want to in every other aspect of our lives? According to this world’s Nature (covered above) and human nature, what again are the (high) risks with narrow, monistic monomorphic thinking and living? Hmmm. A or B. Or just A. Never A, B, C, D, E, F, or G and so on. Never?

Are you maybe “Not Who You Thought” you were or want to be? Not living more alive? How do you know with certainty firsthand? How much have you done, or not done for the sake of a social norm? Should not this life be lived to the fullest with others who want or live the same and more?

Fear stifles. Courage fulfills.” Be true to yourself and others and be open and inclusive.

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Further resources:  On Non-Monogamy

Related posts:

Sexual & Gender Ambiguity: My Once Gross Ignorance
Starvation or Abundance?
Human & Atomic Interactions
Untapped Worlds — Maior Liberatio
Untapped Worlds — Retooling
Doctor, What Do I Have?
Expectations
Soul MateS
Dare to Love…More
The “One” Myth

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Games of Unknowledging – Conclusion

A Closing Preface

I must confess that four months ago when I chose to tackle this subject and new field of study for a blog-post or two — that turned out to be four — I had little idea it would be so laborious and challenging for me. Not only was it formidable over time, but it was equally demanding of quality representation, of which I feel I have failed or sacrificed in some ways. For that I apologize. I likely bit-off much more than I could chew. And though my current personal situation has made my time reading, researching, blog drafting, blog writing, and publishing difficult and quite limited, I do hope this conclusion is sufficient enough to glean from the whole, some expansion on a little known, little taught or discussed subject:  ignorance. If nothing else, I hope these four parts have invoked a deep curiosity to learn and know more about what we don’t know, for it is great, it is endless, and paradoxically attainable.

∼ ∼ ∼ § ∼ ∼ ∼

Previously in Part III, I examined the colorful ways we fabricate facts, or our conscious intentional lying, and how to discern and reveal their motives and utilization. I also covered how North and South American indigenous fossil knowledge and their worlds became lost or entirely omitted from Euro-American archaeological records. Then finished with how to understand the benefits and advantages of historical-interdisciplinary hindsight that offers an enlarged intellectualism and necessary reversal of or counter to explicit and implicit ignorance in the U.S.

In this conclusion I want to very briefly touch on white, or Anglo/Caucasian ignorance, explore the social theorems of ignorance, and then ask Where are America’s public intellectuals, who might they be, and why today are they few and far between? and provide plausible answers. Let’s jump right in.
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Anglo/Caucasian Ignorance

A few summers back as my two kids, my Mom, and my sister and I were seated around the dinner table, the discussion turned to American history, a subject that mostly interested my 15-year old son, but usually made my 22-year old daughter, Mom, and sister roll their eyes. When I made my point that our nation’s White House, Capitol building, and some other government buildings were built by African-American slaves, I got facial expressions of pause, silence, and astonishment. As a state certified educator in Texas, I was not surprised by their responses. This tidbit of historical fact and its implications generally does not make it into state-approved classroom textbooks nor is it required by the state’s core-curriculum as critical learning. Thus, we have a classic case of anglo-caucasian (white) ignorance. I rather like this introduction…

White ignorance…
It’s a big subject. How much time do you have?
It’s not enough.
Ignorance is usually thought of as the passive obverse to knowledge,
the darkness retreating before the spread of Enlightenment.
But…
Imagine an ignorance that resists.
Imagine an ignorance that fights back.
Imagine an ignorance militant, aggressive, not to be intimidated,
an ignorance that is active, dynamic, that refuses to go quietly—
not at all confined to the illiterate and uneducated but propagated
at the highest levels of the land, indeed presenting itself unblushingly
as knowledge.
Charles W. Mills

Professor of philosophy at the City University of New York, Dr. Charles W. Mills believes by clarifying and demarcating historical white domination and its ramifications, as well as examining the individual and social processes of cognition with regard to race, we can start to understand how best to achieve multiracial enlightenment that garners short-, mid-, and long-term benefits not just for a few, but for all humanity.

White Domination & Ramifications
Dr. Mills finds ten components to clarification and demarcation. I will point out four I find particularly important.

  1. Race as a cognitive phenomena historized — white domination has been and still is a social-structure, not a physio-biological structure. “Whites” did not exist in the ancient world.
  2. Leaving white paradigms — “White” in white ignorance doesn’t need to be confined to just white people. To a greater or lesser extent this has existed due to power relations and patterns of ideological hegemony.
  3. Male ignorance — ignorance of the male gender must be analyzed equally as it is far more ancient, going back to the very origins of patriarchy.
  4. Avoiding false beliefs — gaining a broader understanding of white ignorance is not only sociological, but normative too. Flawed patterns of cognition are promoted or propagandized by certain social models and group membership as are truthful-moral ones.

Individual & Social Processes of Cognition
Before getting into Dr. Mills’ work below, watch this 6-minute video. It is a prime example of Memory and Testimony discussed below and how to incorporate it into social cognition:

An examination of white supremacy and its historical dominance, injustice, and ignorance cannot be done without understanding the influences of individual and social processes of cognition. Separating out these various components can be demanding for they are in perpetual interaction with each other. For example, when an individual discerns, they do so with sensors that have been socialized. Keeping this in mind, Dr. Mills analyzes five dynamics that I will summarize:

Mercator Projection map

Mercator projection without “human” imposed borders

  1. Perception — in general, perceptions and conceptions are practically one in the same, so tightly related that often they’re indistinguishable. Individuals do not create these categories, we absorb them from our cultural contexts. Two prime examples are the world’s continents, they’re sizes, and the term savages and its origin and context. They beg the questions, Why is Europe a continent and say India or Eurasia are not? And savage originated from Anglo-French cultures in the 13th century, the Age of Exploration and Colonization by European superpowers, and implies a person/people of uncivilized, primitive, dumb behavior and inferior to the designator(s). Why is this context assigned to savage? Does it justify imperialism, conquest, and domination? The context of savage continued into the 18th century and found its way into one of our most enduring U.S. documents:

    When Thomas Jefferson excoriates the “merciless Indian Savages” in the Declaration of Independence, then, neither he nor his readers will experience any cognitive dissonance with the earlier claims about the equality of all “men,” since savages are not “men” in the full sense. Locked in a different temporality, incapable of self-regulation by morality and law, they are humanoid but not human.
    Charles W. Mills

  2. Conception — this aligns us to our known world. The unknown world, however, is assessed and judged not with the discreetly detached concept, but viewed and judged through the concept. Very rarely does an individual resist this societal bias. And here is the baffling irony of this egocentric, white-centric condition which surrounds the word savage:

    In the classic period of European expansionism, it then becomes possible to speak with no sense of absurdity of “empty” lands that are actually teeming with millions of people, of “discovering” countries whose inhabitants already exist, because the non-white Other is so located in the guiding conceptual array that different rules apply. Even seemingly straightforward empirical perception will be affected—the myth of a nation of hunters in contradiction to widespread Native American agriculture that saved the English [e.g. Jamestown] colonists’ lives, the myth of stateless savages in contradiction to forms of government from which the white Founders arguably learned, the myth of a pristine wilderness in contradiction to a humanized landscape transformed by thousands of years of labor (Jennings 1976). In all of these cases, the concept is driving the perception, with whites aprioristically intent on denying what is before them.
    Charles W. Mills

  3. Memory — it is sadly ironic that as I get to memory of the individual and/or social cognitive process that events such as those in Charlottesville, Virginia, Aug. 12th occurred. It reiterates just how crucial it is to understand the fluid interconnectedness of these five components, including memory, and how it relates to white knowing and unknowing due to denial of requisite facts. While understanding collective memory, we must also understand collective amnesia. They always go hand-in-hand. We remember the Holocaust primarily because Hitler and Nazi Germany lost the war. But what about the Pequots, the Nama, the Tasmanians, the Beothuks, the Congolese, the Hereros, or the Armenians? What about the Native American Cherokees or any of the over 200 tribes on the continent? What about 19th century antebellum slavery, killing rebellions such as Nat Turner’s, and the atrocities throughout the American Civil War? Today, over seven generations later, Americans still confront their historical identity and memory over the Standing Rock Reservation oil-pipeline and Charlottesville, VA over a Robert E. Lee statue and what it means.

    As the individual represses unhappy or embarrassing memories, that may also reveal a great deal about [their] identity, about who [they are], so in all societies, especially those structured by domination, the socially recollecting “we” will be divided, and the selection will be guided by different identities, with one group suppressing precisely what another wishes to commemorate. Thus there will be both official and counter-memory, with conflicting judgments about what is important in the past and what is unimportant, what happened and does matter, what happened and does not matter, and what did not happen at all.
    — Charles W. Mills

  4. Testimony — How do you know your exact birth date? Your knowledge of your birthday is most certainly told to you by those there in the delivery room, your mother and father, and perhaps doctors and/or nurses there at the time. Hence, your beliefs about your birth time, place, month, and year are through testimony. We are quite dependent on others for what we know and this most certainly involves elaborations of social epistemology. Those elaborations also come from other previous individual and social epistemic elaborations and so on. In cases of veracity and neutrality, it bears significant impact to ask ‘testimony by whom and for what (possible) interests gained or lost?
  5. Motivational Group Interests — these can be found in varying strengths with any political, religious, economic, and/or sports groups with common interests. What these sorts of groups demonstrate are what is commonly known in cognitive, developmental, social, clinical, and neuropsychology as hot cognition (as opposed to cold/unemotional) associated with physiological arousal responding more to environmental stimuli. Peer-assimilation is another aspect of hot cognition. This certainly applies to racial grouping and “color-blindness” as well.

Though he speaks primarily on the African-American plight in the U.S., in this following video-clip Harvard University Fellow and MIT Professor Noam Chomsky talks about white domination and racism from the historical record. This really applies to all non-whites in America and the world, does it not?

Social Theorems of Ignorance

Is ignorance simply the absence of knowledge? The sum of society’s ignorance is much greater than the sum of our knowledge. Yet, how much do we really know about social or collective ignorance? Where does social-collective ignorance come from? How much do we impose it upon someone or upon ourselves? What role does social-collective ignorance play in interactions, group relations, in institutions, in civil, business, and criminal law, and managing risks? Typically our societal norms give negative connotations to ignorance, but when might it be preferrable not to know something? Can it be a virtue?

Dr. Michael Smithson, Professor of Psychology at the Australian National University, has been working in the area of uncertainty and ignorance for many years. He takes an interdisciplinary approach to socially produced uncertainty and ignorance and believes one must begin with defining what social ignorance is and is not.

Socially Produced Ignorance: What It Is and Isn’t
Social ignorance is 1) emerging, it is 2) partially constructed by society, and it is 3) imposed. It is manipulated deliberately or as a by-product of some social movement or process. It is also typically at a macro-level of large groups within power relations. As far as how kinetic ignorance is managed (4) it is typically at the micro-level with individuals and how those individuals conceptualize, represent, negotiate, and respond to ignorance. Thus, the managing agent is often indirect or as a spectator concerning the thinking and behavior of ignorance. These are four theorems of social ignorance.

Social ignorance is not the external world and how it arises in non-social settings. For example, the non-social settings would be science and the limits of science. It also includes epistemological and religious frameworks that make assertions about non-knowledge or meta-knowledge in exogenous non-social terms. It is not a managing under kinetic ignorance either. In other words, how people/groups think and act in uncertain environments, and not artificially generated under theory.

Negotiated Ignorances
There are at least five different negotiated ignorances between social (or at least interpersonal) arrangements of ignorance. A sixth could be time, or the lack of time, to adequately understand dynamics of an event, place, or person, but for the sake of time (no pun intended), I will very briefly cover these five:

Specialization — is simply an admittance there is too much for any one person to learn everything exhaustively. Hence, spreading the perceived risks can be achieved in three ways:  1) diversified learning rather than direct or narrowed learning, 2) therefore, concurrently diversified ignorance is created, and 3) acquired knowledge is also diversified via social collaboration.

Privacy — another social ignorance arrangement which is not necessarily controlled access to information by others about self, but can also be consensual with trusted persons or experts. Secrecy is imposed unilaterally, but privacy involves levels of risk. And trust is interconnected within organized specialization.

Trust — is a state of perceived vulnerability or risk. Dr. Smithson (on Yamagishi) elaborates:

[Toshio] Yamagishi and his colleagues argue that trust and “commitment formation” are alternative ways of reducing the risk of being exploited in social interactions. Commitment formation involves the development of mutual monitoring and powers to sanction and reward each other’s behavior. However, the reduction of transaction costs in commitment formation via uncertainty reduction comes at a price, namely the difficulty and costliness in exiting from the relationship and foregoing opportunities to form other relationships. Trust, on the other hand, entails running the risk of being exploited but increases opportunities by rendering the truster more mobile and able to establish cooperative relations more quickly. Trust, therefore, is both an example of a social relation that requires tolerance of ignorance and also trades undesired uncertainty (the risk of being exploited) against desired uncertainty (freedom to seize opportunities for new relations).”

Politeness — is another example of how social relations trade on ignorance. Within formal public conversations people typically don’t expect to first place their hand on a bible and state “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” The strategies a talker may utilize are varied in creating disinformation, e.g. promoting a false impression of approval, or agreement, or offer tactful brevity, vagueness, or ambiguity. However, this latter strategy is not always negative because it could nurture healthy adaptability or change due to diverse interpretations.

Legitimation — social ignorance is also used in a number of facades to vindicate inaction, keeping the status quo (also known as business as usual), opportunism, evasion of responsibility or liability, and risk management strategies. Our American legal differences between civil cases versus criminal cases, as one example, are where a verdict in the former can be given on probabilities and in the latter it must be given “beyond reasonable doubt.

“Licit” actions and choices done on the basis of social ignorance are abundant in our mundane life as well. As previously discussed in this series, legitimizing high-level federal policy change, or non-change, use (abuse?) the precautionary principle, e.g. climate change counter-measures.

Is Social Ignorance Always An Insight-Deficit?
Contrary to popular belief, ignoramuses are not always at a disadvantage. There are cases where they are better off than very knowledgeable people. Case and point, if you could be told exactly when and how you were going to die, would you want to know? Why or why not? Would you want your spouse and children to know the details of your death? Why or why not? Often in the field of counseling where doctor-patient confidentiality existed, I found myself in the position of aiding social ignorance between spouses, family members, employers or a circle of friends for legitimate reasons, e.g. one spouse’s history of unfaithfulness, in order to maintain necessary therapeutic stability. Many spouses/partners don’t care to know intimate details of former lovers/spouses. Dr. Lael Schooler and Ralph Hertwig, both of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, assert from their research that forgetting facilitates the use of inferential heuristics that also trade on environmental structures.

What I hope has been adequately conveyed here is that ignorance, particularly social ignorance, is quite prevalent. It exists practically everywhere, including with yourself.  It is predominantly socially structured. Accordingly, it deserves as much attention, monitoring, and updating as one’s repository of knowledge. This, our social and individual human ignorance-condition, I hope would conflate wise, cunning humility and not inflated arrogance. Therefore, how might we as social parts of a whole get regular checkups, quarterly or annual appraisals of our cunning humility and/or inflated arrogance? Glad you asked!

America’s Public Intellectuals – Questions

What does intellectualism mean? After this four-part series, is it possible for intellectualism to thrive and coexist with ignorance? Should that even be questioned? Can intellectualism guide ignorance and ignorance guide intellectualism offering more balance, more tolerance? In our modern age of technology and data-overload, are we too knowledgeable, too informed?

Today, we are not necessarily uninformed, but so over-informed it forces our cognitive capacities to seek out preferrable trigger-topics and information that bolster our own perspective. That is most certainly a self-imposed ignorance and to degrees social ignorance. On the aforementioned section of social ignorance, sociologists define that as a neo-tribalism tagged with near-fanatical insistence on cohesion and monism in a world, its Nature and fauna that is anything but monistic or binary. Within this neo-tribalism, humans — perhaps just advanced primates at this point? — historically have resorted to bullying and moral castigation to keep their own status quo. But at what cost? Many public intellectuals agree:  the egghead is dead, replaced by chest-beating activists. That may be true.

public-intellectuals-starmap

click here to enlarge

If our nation’s Founding Fathers were alive today, they would almost certainly be distraught and aghast at the loud polarity and lack of common interests. This isn’t to say those members of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, lasting a miserable 116 steamy days and nights, did not have their heated differences. Indeed they did. However, those resilient intellectuals mixed daily with their communities and adversaries; they had no choice really but to learn basic etiquette, tolerance, compromise, and mutual understanding and do it face-to-face. Those differences, conflicts, and resolutions took enormous amounts of highly skilled dialogue, negotiation, candor, and listening as they did expressing.

Fortunately, our modern intellectuals are still around, as seen in the Stargazer’s Guide image, as well as several of their interdisciplinary colleagues I’ve included throughout this four-part series. They too could easily be included on the map in their respective fields. Perhaps they are not as recognizable or accessible today because technology is increasingly finding intrusive ways to get in front of our faces and into our schedules, not weekly or daily, but hourly! Too much information-knowledge is just as bad for us individually — and potentially within a social framework of influence — as ignorance is because covertly hyper-knowledge fosters more risks that would otherwise be spread-out, diversified to minimize risks or learning-bankruptcy.

The difference between intellectualism (knowledge) then in 1787 and now (over-knowledge), as I personally see it, is that whether opposing sides embrace it or not, we know a lot less than we think we do (ignorance). Arrogance with power is the chief combatant of agnotology and collaborative progress. To remain stagnant in current knowledge without diversifying and going into the darkness of ignorance and where it leads is to risk terminal illness at the hands of Nature, predatory Nature to be specific. That assured apathy (that all is known) will be especially lethal if we do not recognize, with no exceptions, that ignorance is an equal or greater dichotomy. An egalitarian dichotomy not to be feared, but merely appreciated, explored further, confronted if necessary, and thus made more commonly defined, inclusive of both individual and social frameworks.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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