Willful ignorance in les blancs essay

The people who support Trump, by and large, do not care just how flawed a candidate he is, let alone how he has no respect for the truth and refuses to apologize for it. But an even larger number of his adherents are sticking with him not because he is standing up for white people, but because they are thoroughly disgusted with the current political leadership that they feel has failed to address the key challenges to our society in the face of dramatic economic, social, and cultural change. The supporters who are not racist and misogynist are actually the more interesting ones here.

Willful ignorance in les blancs essay

Sometimes this is due to innocent memory failures or to the lack of needed information. Suppose that Charles believes that he failed his biology test because the professor asked obscure and ambiguous questions.

On the other hand, if Charles continues to believe that the test was unfair after seeing the grade distribution, he is either severely challenged in his capacity for rational calculation, or the perpetrator of willful ignorance.

Willful ignorance occurs when individuals realize at some level of consciousness that their beliefs are probably false, or when they refuse to attend to information that would establish their falsity.


People engage in willful ignorance because it is useful. People can sometimes be pulled out of their willful ignorance with a modicum of probing, or with contradictory data.

It might not be too difficult to convince the couch potato, who claims that exercise is a waste of time, that some form of activity is better than sitting in a recliner, watching TV, and eating copious amounts of junk food chased by Bud Light.

In contrast to this sort of willful ignorance, self-deception occurs when individuals believe false things with complete conviction. Consider a mother who truly believes that her sour-pussed baby is adorable.

Willful Ignorance and Self-Deception | Psychology Today

If you placed her visage-challenged baby in a lineup with cute babies, she would think that hers was the cutest. Often, it is difficult to judge whether somebody is willfully ignorant or truly deluded. A student once dragged her roommate up with her after my class and complained that there was something seriously wrong with my test.

The problem was that she had studied for 10 hours and her roommate had hardly studied at all and her roommate did much better.

Now, a professor in these circumstances is prohibited from stating the obvious i. In fact, one reason why people maintain erroneous beliefs about themselves is that their friends and relatives enable it. Brutal honesty is socially unacceptable in our culture.

If the woman with the sour-pussed baby is a friend, and approaches you to ask whether her newborn baby is adorable, you will probably inhibit your first response, especially if your response is: Willful ignorance tends to be more adaptive than self-deception.

Willful ignorance is a cognitive strategy that people adopt to promote their emotional well-being, whereas self-deception is less controllable and more likely to be detrimental. Although willful ignorance and self-deception sometimes help individuals to avoid unpleasant facts, in the long run, it is usually better to confront reality than to avoid or deny it.

The Psychology of Willful Ignorance: Margaret Heffernan on Why We Ignore The Obvious

Because the self-deceived person fully believes things that are untrue, she has fewer resources for correcting her course when her erroneous beliefs lead her astray.

Consider a highly-intelligent young woman who falls in love with a man who is attractive, charming, and according to virtually everyone who knows him, a colossal jerk.

The willfully-ignorant woman tries to overlook the fact that the man has the intelligence of a tomato, a bad temper, and few ambitions other than to get drunk with his friends. At vulnerable moments though, perhaps in her dreamsshe suspects the truth. By contrast, the self-deceived woman truly believes that the man is intelligent despite appearances to the contrary, that he is actually quite lovable and displays a bad temper only when pushed to the limit, and that he just likes to have fun and will eventually grow out of his adolescent proclivities.

Since the self-deluded woman truly believes these things, it will probably take her longer to read the warning signs and terminate the relationship. The distinction between willful ignorance and self-deception has interesting implications for moral judgment.

In general, we probably blame willfully ignorant people more for their actions and attitudes than those we suspect of self-delusion. If you believe that your friend is self-deceived—that he actually believes that the candidate is well-intentioned, has a master plan for the country, and harbors no racial or gender bias —then you may be willing to tell yourself a story such as that your friend is generally a good person who has fallen under some bad influences.

Of course, if the distinction between willful ignorance and self-deception were this tidy, philosophers would have nothing to write about and psychologists would have less to research.

Willful ignorance in les blancs essay

In closing, I will consider one qualification of the distinction I have drawn between willful ignorance and self-deception. In other words, people could, if sufficiently motivated, change behaviors and attitudes that stem from willful ignorance more easily than they could alter their self-deceived actions.

But what if we blame them for the motives that led them to be self-deceived in the first place? What if we think that they became self-deceived because it served their interests?Willful ignorance is a cognitive strategy that people adopt to promote their emotional well-being, whereas self-deception is less controllable and more likely to be detrimental.


Although willful. 59 quotes have been tagged as willful-ignorance: Plato: ‘We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men ar. Download-Theses Mercredi 10 juin From the era of slavery to the rise of Donald Trump, wealthy elites have relied on the loyalty of poor whites.

All Americans deserve better. I’m just a poor white trash motherfucker. Willful Ignorance: Why Facts No Longer Matter. there is a willful blindness about what it would take to “Make America Great Again” to match Trump supporters’ willful ignorance about how their candidate represents the worst hypocrisies of excessive individualism.

President Obama's clever use of willful ignorance of the truth surrounding illegal arms trade, cause him to urge the Senate to ratify a treaty of registration of legally acquired firearms even though legally acquired guns have nothing to do with the illegal arms trade.