The Agnotological Basis of Academic Elitism

I love my Facebook Friends  in all their diversity.. Most, but not all, are the victims of Academic Agnotological indoctrination via the modern Mediacracy… Agnotology (formerly agnatology) is the study of culturally induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data. The neologism was coined by Robert N. Proctor a Stanford University professor specializing in the history of science and technology. Its name derives from the Neoclassical Greek word ἄγνωσις, agnōsis, “not knowing” (confer Attic Greek ἄγνωτος “unknown”), and -λογία, -logia More generally, the term also highlights the increasingly common condition where more knowledge of a subject leaves one more uncertain than before.

Some causes of culturally induced ignorance are media neglect, corporate or governmental secrecy and suppression, document destruction, and myriad forms of inherent or avoidable culturopolitical selectivity, inattention, and forgetfulness. Agnotology also focuses on how and why diverse forms of knowledge do not “come to be,” or are ignored or delayed. The term “agnotology” was first coined in a footnote in Proctor’s 1995 book, The Cancer Wars: How Politics Shapes What We Know and Don’t Know About Cancer: “Historians and philosophers of science have tended to treat ignorance as an ever-expanding vacuum into which knowledge is sucked – or even, as Johannes Kepler once put it, as the mother who must die for science to be born. Ignorance, though, is more complex than this. It has a distinct and changing political geography that is often an excellent indicator of the politics of knowledge. We need a political agnotology to complement our political epistemologies.”

In 2004, Londa Schiebinger gave a more precise definition of agnotology in a paper on 18th-century voyages of scientific discovery and gender relations, and contrasted it with epistemology, the theory of knowledge, saying that the latter questions how we know while the former questions why we do not know: “Ignorance is often not merely the absence of knowledge but an outcome of cultural and political struggle.”Its use as a critical description of the political economy has been expanded upon by Michael Betancourt in a 2010 article titled “Immaterial Value and Scarcity in Digital Capitalism.” His analysis is focused on the housing bubble as well as the bubble economy of the period from 1980 to 2008. Betancourt argues that this political economy should be termed “agnotologic capitalism” because the systemic production and maintenance of ignorance is a major feature that enables the economy to function as it allows the creation of a “bubble economy”.

A similar word from the same Greek roots, agnoiology, meaning “the science or study of ignorance, which determines its quality and conditions or “the doctrine concerning those things of which we are necessarily ignorant” describes a branch of philosophy studied by James Frederick Ferrier in the 19th century. The most glaring example in our time has been the suppression of British, as opposed to English and Gaelic, history in the British Isles, so-called “these Islands”, by a partisan Academic Elite. Originating in the 19th Celtic Romantic Movement, the Celtic myth has been pursued by writers of popular fiction and Irish, Scottish and even English nationalist political propaganda. New theories come and go to confuse the unwary, the most recent being those within The New Edinburgh History of Scotland, published recently by the Edinburgh University Press, which encourages readers to make their own conclusions about the origins of “Scotland”, so long as they don’t mention the ancient British Isles, the Islands of the Pretani.

An emerging new scientific discipline that has connections to agnotology and may help us is cognitronics:

aims (a) at explicating the distortions in the perception of the world caused by the information society and globalization and (b) at coping with these distortions in different fields. Cognitronics is studying and looking for the ways of improving cognitive mechanisms of processing information and developing emotional sphere of the personality – the ways aiming at compensating three mentioned shifts in the systems of values and, as an indirect consequence, for the ways of developing symbolic information processing skills of the learners, linguistic mechanisms, associative and reasoning abilities, broad mental outlook being important preconditions of successful work practically in every sphere of professional activity in information society.

The field of cognitronics appears to be growing as international conferences have centered on the topic. Hopefully attention will be paid by Academics to Academics themselves. But I doubt it.

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