Deliberate ignorance has been known as the ‘Ostrich Instruction’ in law courts since the 1860s. It illustrates a recurring pattern in history in which figureheads for major companies, political leaders and industry bigwigs plead ignorance to avoid culpability. So why do so many figures at the top still get away with it when disasters on their watch damage so many people’s lives? Does the idea that knowledge is power still apply in today’s post-truth world?
A bold, wide-ranging exploration of the relationship between ignorance and power in the modern age, from debates over colonial power and economic rent-seeking in the 18th and 19th centuries to the legal defences of today, The Unknowers shows that strategic ignorance has not only long been an inherent part of modern power and big business, but also that true power lies in the ability to convince others of where the boundary between ignorance and knowledge lies.
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Number of pages: 384
Weight: 410 g
Dimensions: 216 x 135 mm
Ours is an era where truth-telling, leadership and authority have an increasingly feeble relationship. Linsey McGoey picks apart how strategic ignorance is a dastardly ploy that enables society’s elites to avoid responsibility for their rampant pursuit of self-interest. Essential if we are to resist what is one of the most dangerous tendencies of the new normal in global politics.
i>'The Unknowers is a landmark study of the myriad ways in which ignorance infuses our social, political and economic lives. Linsey McGoey deftly weaves social thought and empirical analysis to rethink how the power to draw the boundaries between knowledge and ignorance can radically transform society and democracy.
What is most compelling about this book are the ways in which McGoey builds bridges between knowledge and ignorance practices, on the one hand, and processes of political and economic domination, on the other.
i>‘The Unknowers is a fascinating exploration of the many ways in which our societies are built on strategic lack of knowledge.
In this timely book, McGoey tells us how deliberate and willful ignorance are used in politics, law, media, health and especially economics, to get and keep power. And she tells us what we might do about it.
The definitive book for our times on what makes strategic ignorance so 'strategic' in the hands of the powerful. If the truth can set us free, then it is only once we have taken back ignorance.
This is McGoey at her absolute best. And what a tour de force The Unknowers is. Each chapter weaves its way backward and forward between events and evidence, past and future making, to offer original insights into how strategic ignorance and deliberate uncertainty keep those at the top in power.