Obstinate Ignorance

Posted: May 5, 2010 in Life
Tags: , , , ,

I guess all of us at one point exercise this trait about something or other.    How many times have you picked up a TV remote that refused to work, likely because the battery was dead, and kept pressing buttons harder and harder in an effort to squeeze that last bit of juice out of it?  (Raises hand)

How many of you in coming up to an elevator where the call light is clearly lit, and yet you’ve pressed the button anyway, confident that the extra push will get the elevator down to you more quickly?  (Looks around in annoyance at all the raised hands)

I call that obstinate ignorance.   The performing of an action or the verbalizing of a point of view that is completely divorced from logic, coupled with the determination to stay the course, despite any compelling arguments that might come our way.

Lately I’ve noticed a seeming plethora of such instances, on a more global scale.

Take this one:

9/11 was an action undertaken by Jews/the Pentagon.

Muslim extremists were the first to pounce on the idea that Jews deliberately set up the scenario for 9/11 and are quick to point out that Jews either didn’t show up for work that day at the Twin Towers, or else they left the buildings before they crumbled to the ground.  It didn’t take long for that piece of filthy nonsense to make the rounds of the conspiracy circuit.

Others think that the warmongers in the Pentagon set it all up.  They will tell you that the buildings were so structurally sound that it was impossible for them to come down the way they did, short of the prior existence of strategically placed explosives, and oh my God – the doors to the rooftops were closed AND locked as well, which just proves conclusively that it was an inside job.

I have words to say about this, but am trying my level best to keep this blog as clean as possible.   I will tell you however that my digestive system is reacting quite badly right now.  I think I may have broken some internal organ.

Or there’s this one:

If we just dialogued with Muslim nations, listened to what they had to say and took them seriously, they wouldn’t hate us.

Some people actually believe this.  They think that no one in the Christian west will give Muslims the time of day, and that Muslims resent this and are just “acting out” by indiscriminately killing innocents, all in an effort to be heard.  They really believe the problem is one of lack of dialogue.

This last one however really gets my heart racing:

If we’re not careful, we’ll end up with health care just like Canada’s, where you have to wait a year to get cancer treatment.

Usually this is first opined by a health care lobbyist, who in turn influences a senator who repeats it, whose comment then gets picked up by a newspaper or two, after which people at large will tell you their opinion of “socialized medicine”.  Ultimately Sarah Palin will tell you about her worries about death panels.

So what do these conspiracy theories have in common?

1) Laziness.   Those who repeat these theories have not taken the time to actually do research.  Instead, they have listened to one side of the argument only, and in some cases have hoarded the “proofs” in order to seem halfway intelligent when talking about it.

2)  Wrong order of argument.   Any researcher or scientist will tell you that when you approach an issue, you must do your level best not to come at it with preconceptions.  They will tell you to look at all the facts, gather all the evidence, form a hypothesis based upon your evidence, TEST IT, and when you’re sure your hypothesis holds true, adopt your argument as a valid theory.   And you should probably hold that theory at arm’s length, in case more data comes to light that tests your theory.

Let’s go back to the first example: 9/11

The illogic here just blows me away.   Yes, the doors on the rooftops may well have been closed and locked, preventing folk from escaping by helicopter.    I work in a large building too, containing thousands of employees.  I frigging guarantee you those rooftop doors are closed and locked.   You know why?   Because building management doesn’t want to pay extra insurance premiums.  It’s a safety issue.  Can’t let people climb to the roof where they may ultimately decided to jump off.  Not in a corporate building anyway.  Not in my apartment building either.

Conspiracists forget the visions of Palestinians shooting their guns off in celebration of 9/11 too.   They completely ignore the fact that there are records of the terrorists who went to flight school.  There are paper trails everywhere.   They don’t want to know the names of Jewish people who died when the buildings collapsed.    That would blow their argument wide open.

Conspiracists will point to the damage done at the Pentagon, and will  opine that it’s impossible for an airplane to do that.    Their illogic won’t even look at the victims of that damage – the people in the Pentagon, some of whom were killed.

Conspiracists will flip the argument around.  They will start with their idea, and then they will try to accumulate observations to support their claim.  It’s classic.  And it stinks.

Let’s go the second example: the idea that we “just need to talk to” Muslim extremists.

Once again, there’s an issue of laziness.   A close look at the dogma they espouse will inform the inquiring mind that they’re not the least bit in discussing anything with the Kaffir (which is us).  They refer to us as pigs and monkeys, and really – why would anyone in their right minds talk about anything with pigs and monkeys?    Also, it’s ok to kill us, because we’re not humans.  We’re pigs and monkeys.

No, the only way they’ll stop hating us, is a:) we convert; or b) we die.   It’s really as simple as that.   And oh by the way:  it’s ok for them to tell us whatever we need to hear, if it advances their cause.  How is Allah going to blame them for lying to pigs and monkeys?

Don’t take my word for it though.  Look it up – the information is everywhere.  Keyword:  Wahhabism.

And finally we come to the last example:   Canadian Health Care.   If you think you saw a bee in my bonnet before, just trot this one out in front of me and watch what happens.

The easiest way to learn about Canadian Health Care is to ask a Canadian.  Friends of mine on another forum have done just that, and have been mildly surprised at our answers and reactions.    Let me state it bluntly:  the senators and other politicians who sound  warnings about our health care are lying.  Some are doing so knowingly but my guess is that most are doing so in obstinate ignorance.  Once again, their point is made:  Canadian health care is abysmal.  And then the lobbyists (two guesses who forms the bulk of the lobbying majority here) will try to round up some facts to support their absurd conclusion.

They will ignore the fact that when I broke my leg recently, I saw a doctor within a half hour on the same day.  That I then went to my family doctor the next morning (no waiting for three weeks to see her), received a requisition for an ultrasound and an x-ray which were done in record time.

They will also hide their faces from the facts around my mother’s cancer.   The fact that she was diagnosed and received treatment in record time, despite the fact that she lived out in a rural area of the province.

They will also ignore the fact that there are U.S. hospitals where the emergency wait times are roughly five hours, and that Canadian hospitals have comparable wait times.   The last time I went to the emergency department, my total stay from the time I went into the hospital to the time I left, was something like three hours.


The reasons all three of the conspiracy theories above have so much traction can be summed up in two words:  obstinate ignorance.  Too many people are happy to believe what they’re being told; they don’t want to change their mind, and so they have chosen to ignore all contrary data.

Thus the lies grow.

  1. Just Kate says:

    You packed a lot in there, my friend. I like the term “obstinate ignorance.” It very aptly describes what you’re talking about here. I was solidly with you on points one and two but I had to go back and read through point three a few times to really hear you.

    With regards to point three, I THINK you’re saying that people who oppose socialized medicine in the U.S.A. solely because they’ve heard horror stories about Canada are suffering from obstinate ignorance. I hope that’s what you’re saying, because I’m sick and tired of people attributing my opposition to socialized medicine in the U.S.A. to ignorance. I have solid reasons for my opposition, none of which have to do with Canada. That being said, my view is colored by my own PERSONAL experience with socialized medicine in Australia and that of friends who have had similar experiences.

    And, as much as we should not trust what any politician or special interest group has to say about how bad the Canadian healthcare system is, we should also distrust any politician or special interest group that says how great it is. *shrugs* It seems like common sense to me. I know you love Canadian healthcare. You’ve said so numerous times. I don’t suppose one would have to look very hard to find people standing on both sides of that aisle.

    It also bothers me that people buy everything they’re sold about healthcare in the U.S.A. The private healthcare industry in the U.S.A. is EVIL. Blah blah blah… Private industry is evil… Profit is evil… tra la la la la… Obstinate ignorance aboundeth.

    Most people don’t want to INVESTIGATE, they simply grab onto whatever view most closely aligns with their preconceived ideas. They chose media sources that confirm and conform to their established world view. Who wants to be challenged. *yawn* It’s so much easier to stay firmly entrenched in obstinate ignorance. There’s definitely an element of laziness there. Yet, oddly enough, people are willing to get downright ugly and brawl over things they believe but cannot rationally defend. Interesting that.

    Worse still, there are people who simply cannot fathom that anyone can arrive at an opposing point of view without being ignorant, uneducated, or illogical. As if there is only ONE logical or defensible position on any side of a political issue.


    • You’ve hit the nail on the head with point #3, Kate. Not many have done as you have done and have actually done some research to come to their conclusions. And for the record, I’m not ranting against those who hold different opinions than mine. That’s not at all the point. I have a squirrel in my pants about uninformed parroted opinions. Opinions that offered forth just because some senator or pastor or whatever has stated them. And adherents who have adopted those opinions as fact merely because of the respect they afford the originators of the opinion.

      It’s not just me who loves Canadian health care. I’m much closer to the issue than most Americans, yourself included. So when I say we love our healthcare… well let me put it this way. You know the visceral protectiveness Americans have around freedom of speech? That’s the same level of intensity Canadians have about our healthcare system. It’s the one issue that politicians here are loathe to touch, in fear of losing their popularity with the Canadian populace. From west coast to the east, various people have tried to shake the status quo, and have thought out loud about having a two-tier system, which would allow for some people to work outside of the system. Time after time I’ve seen these mavericks shot down with intense prejudice. Since Tommy Douglas introduced it, it’s an issue we’ve latched onto like a baby goes to his mother’s breast.

      I can’t speak to the Australian dynamic. I simply don’t know enough.

      I’ve listened to a number of broadcasts of “This American Life” regarding health care and the drug industry to know that the issue of insured health care is not as black and white as some would like it to be. There seems to be a number of vicious circles at work there. I frankly have no idea how one would go about putting a spoke into the wheels of what’s going on.

      I like what you’ve written here, Kate.


  2. Momma Fargo says:

    I have never been one of those types. .I often have to hold myself back. YIKES! And btw, there is only one way…that is logical…MINE! Ha! Spoken like a true woman.


    • It’s tough isn’t it? Especially when people look at you, expecting you to nod your head in agreement. Whenever I’ve held back, trying to figure out what I wanted to say, I’ve noticed that others have avoided me.

      Generally those are the same people who boldly state that they make a point of not arguing about religion and politics. Like that gives them carte blance to blather on about what they think are facts, without opposition.

      Fuck ’em.


      • Just Kate says:

        I really like the thread you’ve generated here, Doug. I used to be someone who was very uncomfortable when, having expressed an opinion, I was met with silence. It was because the idea that I could even HAVE an opinion, much less express one, was so brand new to me. Part of me knew well and truly that the other party was simply being thoughtful and taking time to formulate a response, having actually LISTENED to me, but another part of me felt terrified of being run through for having dared to speak in the first place. It was me dealing with demons of my own past.

        It’s easy to make assumptions about why people respond the way they do. Sometimes it’s clear when a person is being an ignorant asshole or obstinately ignorant, but other times it’s not clear at all. I bristle when I feel like someone expects me to nod and smile and I’m likely to argue the other side of a thing just because I can and not because I really disagree, you know?

        I’m in a very contemplative mood tonight so bear with me, okay? :) I am also someone who occasionally says, as you well know, that I don’t like to argue religion and politics. I absolutely LOVE to argue a point if I actually have a good grasp on a subject and feel like I’m talking with someone else who does, too, or can at least trust that they’ll concede that they don’t have the answer if it comes to that. I’m always willing to do so. I think a basic indication of intelligence is the ability to say I DON’T KNOW.

        Anyway, it’s not that I want people to agree with me, it’s just that I don’t want to waste my time lobbing angry words like bombs. For me, the goal of conversation and argument is communication.

        I really like this blog. It falls well in line with my thinking tonight. Thanks, as always, for the good conversation, Doug.


        • This made me smile. If ever I encounter silence when offering a countering opinion, I like to challenge that silence right away. “Why are you so quiet? Do you agree or disagree? Talk to me!”

          If they walk off in a huff, in disgust, so much the better. That’s much more entertaining than the awkward silence. *grinning*

          When arguing contentious issues, I don’t see how you can do it without absolute honestly; the kind of honesty that will readily admit to having a lack of information in some areas. We can’t all be experts on everything and it’s the fool who would pretend otherwise. (And some fools genuinely do; and get away with it only because of their seeming passion, which no one wants to challenge)

          It sounds cliché but it’s nevertheless true: it is SO refreshing talking with you Kate.


  3. contoveros says:

    Agree on all counts, but wish there was a more compassionate way to solve the problem with extremists of all faiths. Including the fundamentalists in Christian and Jewish groups, not to mention any from Buddhism, Hinduism or what ever ism that’s still left.

    Sufi is a sect of Islam. But, members are non-violent, actually called “Lovers” for the poetry and longing to be with their “Beloved.” Their mystics are no different than the mystics in the other religions, and I wish they had more influence over the political sphere, but their’s is the spiritual one.


    Let the Canadian Health Care System take over the USA. We could use the infusion of new blood.


    9 – 11 will have as many conspiracy believers as there are people who swear the moon landing was staged. Like those who deny the Holocaust. Let’s not forget those who claim Elvis is still alive.

    michael j


    • When members of any group – Christian, Jews or Muslims – go the route of violence, the rest of the members of that group have a moral obligation (in my opinion) to get downright ornery and loud about their opposition to such tactics.

      On the Christian side, we’ve seen a lot of loud opposition to the idea that abortion doctors should be killed. *Very* loud opposition actually, as Christians have made a point of saying that those idiots don’t represent mainstream Christians.

      On the Jewish side, well one only needs to look at the ongoing bickering and arguing over in Israel to understand that no one can stand up and say “my viewpoint represents all of Judaism”. They’re known as a people of argument, and you’ll find just as many supporters of Palestinians as there are those who think they need to be put down hard.

      On the Islam side – I’ve known a few outspoken individuals who operate within the realm of calm reason. But for the most part, there is silence in the face of Wahhabist extremists. I suspect a lot of that silence is borne of fear, rather than agreement.


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