It’s Okay to Be Ignorant. Just Don’t Be Satisfied with That Ignorance.
Here’s something that happens to everyone: you’re in a group with people and someone brings up a topic. Maybe it’s about some political issue you don’t follow closely or some other issue, and everyone else is talking at great length about it while you’re just sitting there, nodding in silence. I’ve had those moments, especially in college, and especially when it came to anything having to do with economics.
But here’s the key thing I’ve managed to sort out since then: there is absolutely nothing wrong with being ignorant. I have no problem if people are ignorant about this or that or some other thing. No one is 100 percent smart and we all have what I call knowledge gaps.
But there’s a difference between being ignorant and feeling bad about it, and being ignorant and deciding that you are comfortable living in that ignorance. If you’re not interested in hearing other people explain to you why you’re wrong and what the right answer is, then you obviously have no interest in learning anything.
And it’s not even just about feeling bad about ignorance that can trigger someone’s curiosity, it’s also this little thing called doubt. The people who are most satisfied with their ignorance are the most dogmatic ones; the ones who are so certain about what they believe in and what they know to be true that they can’t be bothered learning any more. And no, this is not all about religious belief, because dogma comes in all shapes and sizes. If your political passion drives you to constantly defend the people you agree with and mock, deride, or condemn the people you disagree with, then you’ve already locked your intellectual blinders in place and indicated that you will not believe a single fact that does not conform to your worldview.
For a concrete example, consider the news outlets people check on a regular basis. If you’re a Democrat and only read sites like Daily Kos or The Huffington Post, or if you’re a Republican and only read sites like The Blaze or HotAir, well, that’s hardly showing any intellectual curiosity on your part. Even if you’re very confident about what you believe in, you should always check out what the other side is saying, just so that you have stronger and more accurate responses to what they think instead of what you believe they think.
I guess what I’m saying is that incredibly self-righteous people suck, and the four most important words in the English language are “I could be wrong.”