Ignorance is a choice.ignorance

Not knowing may be “easier”; you know, less confusing, less intimidating, less fearful, less embarrassing.

I remember when I first asked the question, “Is it easier not knowing?” What I was asking was “By choosing to not know, did I really make a choice, or was it a default position?” Because if you consciously avoid knowing, do you really not know or are you just ignoring the obvious. Perhaps it goes back to the saying common on social media today: “Great people talk about ideas; average people talk about things; small people talk about other people” (which is a variation of what Elanor Roosevelt said).great minds-people

Critical thinking critical-thinking (no, not negative thinking; reflective, thoughtful thinking) enables knowing. Talking about ideas allows people to think reflectively, to think thoughtfully; to know. Talking about people cuts off thinking about ideas; allows individuals to “not know”. And in that case, not knowing is seems easier; less effort. Perhaps, you say, that the people don’t know that they don’t know. That, too, is a choice. I am reminded of a thought that was stated with regard to “white privilege”: “…it is (emphasis original) your fault if you don’t maintain awareness of that fact” (referring to the fact that white people do benefit from white skin and therefore privilege). I’m not saying that not knowing (ignorance) is a form of white privilege; I am saying that there are similarities, that it is your fault to maintain ignorance, that there are choices.

And yes, this does relate to evaluation. What choices have you made recently that have kept you ignorant. Is it just too much trouble to…(fill in the blank)? I know there are days where I default to the not knowing (ignorance) position. (My philosophy teacher once told me that there are only three choices: to agree to do (know), to agree to not do (not knowing), and agree to not decide (default).) It takes too much work; I’ve too many other things that need to be done yesterday. OR, I am afraid of knowing. That is a choice.

I realized recently that I will encourage people to look at self-confidence/self-efficacy and to measure an individual’s intention to change as a way to identify outcomes. Yet there are other approaches to get to outcomes. I happen to believe that  Mazmanian (1998*) did identify something important (intention to change) when evaluating programs (even though he was talking about continuing medical education). That is almost 20 years ago. Is it still relevant? (Don’t know.) It is still useful? (Yes.)  Does it still help the evaluator get closer to condition change? (Yes.)

Not knowing (ignorance) may be easier; I don’t think it is really an option in today’s world. It is, after all, the information age.information-age-359x366

*Mazmanian, P. E., Daffron, S. R., Johnson, R. E., Davis, D. A., & Kantrowitz, M. P.  (1998).  Information about the barriers to planned change: A randomized controlled trial involving continuing medical education lectures and commitment to change. Academic Medicine 73(8), 882-886.

my two cents.



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