The Science of Ignorance

The first attempt to formalize the study of ignorance came recently with historian Robert Proctor of Stanford University who coined the neologism "Agnotology" to describe what he believed to be culturally produced ignorance. His purpose was to expose junk science used by tobacco companies. Proctor's best contribution may be rhetorical, however. Science has lots of junk in the trunk, as do many other disciplines. Where method masks error, historic examples are legion. Phrenology, graphology, and astrology were all, at one time, considered sciences. And reason or precedent is often used to promote falsehoods. Even Galileo capitulated when confronted with the received wisdom of the church. Luther and Calvin promoted predestination, the devil's influence, and anti-Semitism at the expense of reason, choice, and free will. Edison clung to direct current long after the advantages of Tesla's alternating current was known. William Randolph Hearst promoted the errors of National Socialism until...(Read Full Article)

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