CHE contributor examines “willful ignorance” on campuses

January 14, 2016

“Willful ignorance is when we know that there are other ideas out there, but we refuse to consider them,” writes Lee McIntyre, a research fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University. This phenomenon is something one can find in those who deny climate change or embrace the anti-vaccination movement, but it can also be found on both sides of campus debates over tolerance and censorship. McIntyre finds from his research that “ideologically motivated denial doesn’t start with politics. It starts with a set of innate cognitive weaknesses shared by all of us.” It exists on both the right and left sides of the political spectrum, he adds, and if we wish to make progress on these campus debates, we must be instantly skeptical of anyone who begins a sentence with the phrase, “I refuse to believe.” Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)