Deliberate ignorance (sometimes willful ignorance) is the practice of refusing to consider or discuss logic or evidence disproving ideologically motivated positions. Related concepts are wishful thinking and the fallacy of invincible ignorance. Examples of deliberate ignorance include:
- liberal denial about the ability to leave the harmful homosexual lifestyle, as thousands have successfully done
- Howard Dean, a physician, former Governor, and longtime politician, refusing to recognize that taxpayer-funded abortion increases the number of abortions
- abortionists refuse to address the undisclosed harm to the mothers who have abortions
- refusing to acknowledge the inferior credentials of the critics of Richard Sternberg, whom they ostracize for having published an intelligent design article
- Democrats refusing to acknowledge Barack Obama's appeal to unpatriotic donors and supporters
- materialists refuse to address the impossibility of material explanation for migration and homing
- evolutionists refuse to address the lack of a plausible evolutionary path for the whale and the other counterexamples to evolution.
- Believing that only one ideology could ever make mistakes; constantly demonizing that ideology while ignoring the faults of one's own (a particularly Liberal fault).
- liberals refuse to address how socialism destroys productivity
- Liberals who refuse to acknowledge the many fundamental truths in the Bible and even dismiss out-of-hand the many examples of Biblical scientific foreknowledge but refuse to read the Bible.
- Advocates of the global warming theory refuse to consider any scientific evidence which shows that natural causes have always had a greater effect on terrestrial air temperature than human activity.
- Liberal cafeteria Christians refuse to consider Bible verses that contradict their preconceived notions of what the Bible should say.
- Liberal Internet discussion boards quickly delete posts that present facts contradicting liberal ideology and ban users making such posts.
- Believing sentimental fallacies about public figures even when all the objective facts clearly indicate that said fallacies are false.
- Liberals who claim that the first amendment says that public officials are not allowed to acknowledge America's Christian heritage.
- Pushing a "scientific" theory for political purposes or because it fits one's belief system or preconceived notions, while dismissing actual scientific evidence that discredits the theory
Common expressions of deliberate ignorance include:
- "I find that hard to believe!" (Howard Dean, June 11, 2008, in response to a fact ignored by liberals)
- "I'm not aware of that!" (without admitting a failure to look)
- "I've never seen that in the New York Times!"
- "That's not what it said in my (public school) textbook!"
- "Let's talk about something else!"
- "I'm not interested in that!"
- "That offends me!" (used as an excuse not to consider facts or logic)
- "You're persecuting me!" (when the "persecution" consists only of pointing out inconvenient facts or logic)
- "That's not true in my experience," with the implication that it therefore cannot be true at all
Deliberate ignorance is clearly quoted from the Bible in 2 Peter 3:3-6: "Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed." (NIV) This is only referring to the denial of God's magnificent handiwork in the creation.
Crime of deliberate ignorance
Deliberate ignorance can be a crime. For example, jurors were instructed "to consider whether ... former Enron Corp. executives deliberately ignored accounting fraud as the energy trader fell into bankruptcy."
Shift of meaning of "ignorance"
The word "ignorance" used to pertain more to the willful act of ignoring information more than "not knowing" it. So phrases like "willful ignorance" or "deliberate ignorance" would mean "willful willful not knowing" or "deliberate willful not knowing".
A translation of a 13th-century Church doctor completed in the 1920s retains this definition of "ignorance" as ignoring. As a solution for referring to a lack of knowledge that may or may not be willful, the word "nescience" is used. However, this word is virtually unknown today.
- Aquinas, Thomas (1274). "Whether ignorance is a sin?" Summa Theologica, translated by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province (London: Burns, Oates and Washbourne and New York: Benzinger Brothers, 1915), part I of second part, Q. 76, A. 2, Answer.