The tobacco industry elevated the art of sowing doubt among the population as a way of confusing people into thinking that their products might be safe. Today, the sugar industry, on the defensive against accusations that their products are leading to the epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and various other illnesses in America, are adopting some of the same techniques, as are global climate change deniers (even while some oil-industry spokesperson admit that global climate change is real and caused by humans).
The purposeful creation of ignorance, by corporations and others, is so widespread today that a new field has popped up to describe its study: agnotology. This article provides a short summary.
Ignorance is at the root of our inability to respond to the ruination of Earth:
“Citing the results of a 2012 Gallup poll, Proctor asks, ‘If half the country thinks the Earth is 6,000 years old, how can you really develop an effective environmental policy?’”
Depending on so many complex institutions of science, governance, and industry to know about the world makes us all more susceptible to manipulation by misinformation and false doubt. Ignorant of the natural world and how it sustains us, we can’t step out and see what’s true and real for ourselves. Ignorant of the myriad complex consequences of our sophisticated modern lifestyles, which require complex methods and instruments of science to truly assess, we become dependent on far-flung institutions to tell us important things.
Under such circumstances, it’s essential that people guard against the planting of ignorance by corporations whose leaders wish to continue to enrich themselves at the expense of public health and well-being and environmental sustainability.
Do Conservative White Males feel threatened by a greener future?
Find out at my latest Psychology Today posting.
When I was in Bali with my students in January, we saw some pretty disturbing things. In my latest post on my Psychology Today blog, I begin to grapple with what we saw.
This is what Laurence Coupe of The Times Higher Education, the premier higher education news magazine in the UK, had to say about Invisible Nature:
“Worthy’s book … looks to me as though it will be indispensable.”
“I have seldom come across the whole story of how we came to be so hopelessly severed from the sources of life…told with such detail and eloquence.”
“A necessary book.”
Environmental problems seem abstract in our everyday lives. The cap of the toothpaste I used only twenty minutes ago seems like just a cap, but eventually it could become a death sentence for an albatross.
See how in the trailer of the eye-opening, devastating film Midway:
MIDWAY a Message from the Gyre : a short film by Chris Jordan from Midway on Vimeo.
Films such as Midway bring home to us the connections between the immediate context of our everyday lives and the results out there in the world that we really don’t want to see. In doing so they empower us to head toward a world that’s healthier for us and other creatures.
Tonight, I’ll be speaking about my book Invisible Nature at Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore, 2904 College Ave., Berkeley. Please come if you’re in town.
Science has recently been telling us some truly wonderful news: We humans are not alone in the universe as the only conscious, feeling beings. Other animals are conscious, can think, can feel pain, and can even be considered people. The question is, Why do we need to be told such things that our ancestors already knew?
I pursue this vital question on my The Green Mind blog at Psychology Today. Take a look:
Burl Hall has written an interesting op-ed on humility, in light of Invisible Nature. He ties it into obedience violence and the Milgram experiments and into some writing that his wife, Merry Hall wrote in response to my book. Take a look…
I recently launched my new blog over at Psychology Today: The Green Mind. Please check it out. Some of the posts the I write there will appear here as well, but the two blogs will have some differences as well, with more more psychology-focused entries there.
My first post on The Green Mind is an introduction to the ideas in my book Invisible Nature. See below.
News of environmental problems seems endless: worsening climate change, radioactive landscapes, flooded coastal cities, species going extinct. It can seem depressing and overwhelming. The world appears out of control, and the problems seem abstract. How do they relate to our daily lives? How can we regain control over our environmental impacts? Read More.