Suggested Reading — Willful Ignorance Has a High Social Cost

Too often, people make medical decisions based on fear, ignorance, convenience or a combination of them. We’ve often written (here and here) about the need to understand the basics about a health condition you might have, to understand proven practices to address it, and not just pop cultural attitudes about it.

Michael Hiltzik recently wrote a thoughtful column in the Los Angeles Times about the cost of people not knowing, and, often, not wanting to know, about the science of health.

Hiltzik’s piece shows how greed (brought to you primarily by the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries) promotes ignorance over truth, and what that costs: “When this sort of manipulation of information is done for profit,” Hiltzik wrote, “or to confound the development of beneficial public policy, it becomes a threat to health and to democratic society.”

” ‘The myth of the “information society” is that we’re drowning in knowledge,’ ” said one of Hiltzik’s sources who studies the phenomenon of anti-truth. ” ‘But it’s easier to propagate ignorance.’ ”

“Once allowed to take root,” Hiltzik said, “misinformation – whether cultural or manufactured – is very hard to dislodge.” The more enduring problem is that “ignorance interferes with the creation of intelligent policy.”

It’s a fascinating, and disturbing, read.

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