The Contradictory Metrics of Ignorance

I just came across a group on Facebook called Jewish Ritual Murder. It has 1057 likes. Its sole purpose is to perpetuate false stories that promote the myth of the Jewish blood libel. There’s an insane belief out there that Jews ritually murder Christians and use their blood for any number of nefarious purposes. This fiction has been used for centuries to justify violence against Jews. It has even been known to decimate entire communities. I’ve reported this page to Facebook. Many people have. It’s a hate crime. I hope it will be gone by the time you read this.


Update: Facebook felt that this page does not violate its community standards. Please join me in reporting this if you agree with me that by perpetuating these lies it perpetuates hate.

It never ceases to amaze me that humanity seems to be becoming more ignorant with each passing day. That shouldn’t be mathematically possible. If we look at facts as a unit of measure, and assume people learn something new every day (I certainly seem to), then we as a species should be increasing in knowledge by leaps and bounds. And yet here are some more ridiculous and entirely false things a scary number of people believe:

  • Telephones cause brain cancer.
  • Humans never landed on the moon.
  • Evolution is a myth.
  • Humans once coexisted with dinosaurs or dinosaurs never existed.
  • Global climate change isn’t occurring, or if it is, it’s normal.
  • The earth is only 6,000 years old, give or take. Oh, and it’s flat.
  • The American Civil War had nothing to do with slavery or racism.
  • Benjamin Franklin was once president of the US.
  • People are gay by choice.
  • Africa is a country.
  • Blue moons are actually blue.
  • Barack Obama is a Muslim.
  • Elvis is alive.
  • The sun revolves around the earth.
  • Vaccines cause autism.

So why do we seem to buy in to all this stupidity despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Well, I have a few theories. Let’s go back to my “facts as a unit of measure” concept.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, it’s even easier to stuff your head full of false information. That leaves you little room to focus on the facts. The best way to combat against this is to fact check everything, but most people seem to be too busy waiting for the sky to fall or the next vampire movie to come out. Another way to avoid false information is to stop watching FOX news, stop assuming the scientific method yields mere opinions, and stop believing every meme that you read.

We also need to realize that, yes, we forget things we have learned, but that does not mean we should rely on the shorthand of sound bites to fill those voids. Knowledge shouldn’t be a spectator sport. We all need to make an effort to stay informed.

We also need to fight against this idea that “intellectual” is a dirty word. We need to emphasize education, not demonize it. How can knowing more facts ever be a bad thing?

An alarming number of children in the world today have little or no access to education. When you fill the planet with that many empty heads, there’s plenty of space for ignorance to thrive. Crime, terrorism, and violence do not come from a place of intelligence. Truly educating (as opposed to indoctrinating) people can only make the world a better place.

Take in as much information as you can, but learn the difference between fact and fiction. Read, but consider the source. Don’t blindly follow your leaders. Rely on logic. Don’t slide down the slippery slope of stupidity. Use your head for something other than a hat rack.


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8 thoughts on “The Contradictory Metrics of Ignorance

  1. Sam Ramirez

    Considering what happened in the recent Presidential election, it seems a lot of people believe exactly what they hear, without checking deeper into the facts. I carefully listened to both candidates during the campaign before making my decision. The President-elect claims that those who opposed him were brainwashed by the media. I wasn’t. I listened to him, carefully considered what he supported, and what his future plans were for our country. How is that being brainwashed by the media? I don’t vote along party lines, but have always voted for the person who I felt would do the best job. I agree with what you said Barb: Learning should not merely be a spectator sport. As a teacher, I encourage my students to do careful research, check their sources, and in the words of my father “Don’t assume…always ask questions.” I could easily add to your list of “Ridiculous and False Things” that people believe. Here are some VERY ridiculous things that I find SOME people continue to believe. How do I know? They tell me!
    *Most Hispanics are criminals, illegal immigrants, or illiterate.
    *All Southerns are racist.
    *If you are a white Hispanic, you must be bi-racial.
    *Obese people are both physically and mentally slow. They are fat because they want to be.
    (A college friend told me this. I was an obese as a child and was very offended by this comment)
    *You should communicate (talk down to) short people as if they were children. Their capacity for learning and their maturity level match their size.
    *Florida is plagued by constant hurricanes, alligator attacks, and swarms of mosquitoes. I hear this one in New York a a lot! P.S. I grew up Florida and only saw one hurricane, a sleeping alligator in a parking lot, and had brief encounters with occasional mosquitoes. How I survived those Biblical calamities still amazes me.

    It’s amazing that, with the incredible amount of accessible information, how people still believe some these disturbing things. I’m still stunned what I hear coming out of some people’s mouths and how they truly believe what they are hearing, without deeply looking into the facts. Thanks for a great post, Barb.
    Sam 12/3/16

  2. ‘Benjamin Franklin—the only president of the United States who was never president of the United States.’ —Firesign Theatre, from ‘Everything You Know Is Wrong’

  3. Unfortunately, we as a society do not value education as much as we claim to. We fail to properly fund education overall and routinely fight the mere idea of national standards for education (the only way we’re ever going to keep that Civil War myth in your list from being presented as fact in many classrooms)—plus there’s the whole thing about the quality of a school often being dictated by it’s location.

    On a more basic level, knowledge, intelligence, and doing well in school are often ridiculed. Smart kids are “nerds”, “geeks”, “Poindexters”, and “Brainiacs”; children of color who excel in school are either considered to be “acting white” or examples of stereotype. With rare exceptions (Neil DeGrasse Tyson), smart, educated people are not considered “cool”; that distinction is largely reserved for athletes and entertainers. Academics are dismissed as “elites”. Clever putdowns and snappy comebacks are valued over logic and thoughtful reasoning. Instead of trying to improve ourselves, most of us laugh off our shortcomings with “well, I was never very good at [math, science, English] anyway.”

    The only time we truly value (as such) knowledge or intelligence is when we want somebody to help us—e.g., when our cars or computers need fixing;, or when we want to send important correspondence, but realize that our spelling and/or grammar aren’t up to scratch.

    And, in recent years, more and more of us have begun equating opinion with fact. I remember explaining to a friend of mine that “Black Lives Matter” was not a call for “special treatment”, that “all lives matter” and “blue lives matter” are dismissive responses; his reply? “Well, it’s my opinion.” Yes, we have devolved to the point where the mere assertion of a position as an “opinion” is now expected to end all discussion on any given topic.

    Until our attitudes about education, knowledge, intelligence, and academic achievement change for the better the quality of education and discourse in this country will continue to suffer. In that respect, it’s almost a relief that we fail to properly fund our schools, because no amount of money will change anything until our basic attitudes change.

  4. Sam Ramirez

    I still meet people that are baffled that I am Hispanic, college-educated, and white. They try to convince me that there must have been some mistake. I’ve even been accused of “trying to be white.” I guess they were taught (and have come to believe) that Hispanics must fit into the negative stereotypes they have heard during their lives.

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