The Comfort of Dis-Information

“They” say ignorance is bliss.  But why do people think there’s bliss to be found in ignorance?  There’s a great Robbie Williams song, that has the line:

Is it the comfort of dis-information, or is it the freedom that you fear?

Maybe that’s exactly why people believe that not knowing is good or helpful; because it’s more comfortable to stay within the realm of what they know . . . you know, the whole “Don’t rock the boat” frame of mind.  I can’t quite agree with it, though.  If we as a race, never rocked the proverbial boat, we’d still be living in caves.  We wouldn’t have discovered that the world was round, or wouldn’t have even discovered new countries, or new galaxies.

There are some of us out there who want to know as much as possible about the world in which we live, or at least about the subjects that hold interest for us.  Personally, I’m not interested in knowing complex algorithms, but if someone’s able to tell me (in lay terms) how they pertain to my everyday life, yeah, I’d be interested in that.

In the movie Dangerous Beauty, the lead character, Veronica, became a courtesan, because she had a thirst for knowledge, and only courtesans were allowed into libraries, or to be as learned or more so than their male counterparts.  She longed for something more than the kind of life that was acceptable for a woman at that time.  But, in addition to enjoying respect and equal footing from the men whose company she kept, she also endured hatred and jealousy from the women who didn’t like her for being so different.  Sleeping with their husbands probably didn’t help her cause much either.

My point in bringing up this movie is that, at one point Veronica and her best friend, Beatrice,  are talking clandestinely about their different lives.  Beatrice asks Veronica to teach her daughter in the ways of being a courtesan when she’s older.  One of the reasons she gives is because her nurse had recently told Beatrice’s daughter that promiscuity of the mind leads to promiscuity of the body.  Beatrice is afraid that her daughter will grow up to believe that, and doesn’t want her daughter to lead the same life of “perpetual inconsequence” that Beatrice has led by marrying for political reasons.  She wants her daughter to have the freedom that she didn’t have.

I’m quite curious about the nurse’s comment, that “promiscuity of the mind leads to promiscuity of the body.”  That phrase may have been successful in keeping people afraid and controllable back in the days of The Inquisition, when people were labeled “witch” for having a different opinion and *gasp* admitting it, but is that what people are still afraid of today?  Is that why there are still some who believe that “Ignorance is bliss”?  Do they honestly believe that “too much” knowledge will lead to more sex, or whatever other thing they think is “bad”?

I want to clear the air about the word, promiscuous.  The current definition relates to sex, true, but the original definition was “consisting of a disorderly mixture of people or things”.  Aside from being curious about how we morphed from one definition to the next, I propose we go back to the original definition of the word.  After all, what is so wrong with having a “disorderly” mixture of ideas or knowledge?  Isn’t that how contestants go on to win millions of dollars on Jeopardy, because they have knowledge of many different subjects?

Another question I have about the draw of dis-information is, do people “enjoy” ignorance because they’re too lazy to make their own decisions?  Do they feel that it’s more comfortable to let someone else tell them how to live their lives?  If so, why?  Does it make it easier to have a scapegoat when life doesn’t go the way they think they want it?  Do they also give that same person all the credit when it does?  I certainly hope laziness isn’t the reason that people want to remain ignorant.  That would be such a disservice to themselves.

There are so many interesting things going on in this world, that there’s no WAY I’d want to limit what I could possibly learn, just for “comfort” reasons.  Besides, many experts believe that you keep your brain young by learning new things.  It keeps the neural synapses firing.  And I’d like to keep my brain young for as long as I possibly can.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dolly Chamberlin
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 08:08:18

    It’s interesting to watch the meanings, &/or pronunciations of words & how they change through time. When someone asks me “Is that the way that word is pronounced?”, I generally respond with “It depends on where you are & who you are with at the time.” Watching Jeopardy over the years has been a good example of this. I wonder if another word might be complacent, which, as defined by the Google dictionary, says [pleased, especially with oneself or ones merits, etc. often without awareness of some potential danger or defect.] I see the difference not as ‘lazy’, but perhaps ‘without awareness’. Another analogy might be “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Some of us don’t want to break it, we just want to know how it all fits together, so we delve beyond the comfortable/known, and ‘rock that boat’. Like you said, without rocking the boat, we could still be living in caves.
    LOVES 🙂


  2. Alyx Morgan
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 08:17:00

    I don’t know that I agree that complacency is what’s going on, but it’s an interesting thought.

    Thanks for stopping by today.


  3. Craig
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 08:33:38

    One thought that struck me while reading your blog is the question of why they choose to stay or embrace ignorance. I feel that people are so insecure that it upsets them when anyone passes on knowledge they didn’t have, because it makes them feel stupid. In general, it’s easier staying ignorant then to spend time and effort learning things. And if that person, or society in general embraces or emphasizes ignorance, then there will be no one who’s smarter than another (in theory) and therefore no one will make them feel inferior.


  4. Alyx Morgan
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 08:46:06

    Very interesting theories, Craig. I do feel that there’s a bent toward a dumbing down of society lately, at least with regards toward much of the programming that can be seen on TV nowadays. I can see how insecurity can lead one to stay ignorant, which is unfortunate.

    Thanks for stopping by today.


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