November 8, 2012

Ignorance, Laziness, or Something Else?

ignorance

I found this on Facebook, and it got me thinking. for many of us, information on nearly any subject is only a few keystrokes away. This is particularly true when it comes to various "how to" advice. For example, when my 3.5 year-old Android phone stopped working, I described the problem I was experiencing in Google and found an effective step-by-step solution in an Internet forum dedicated to the aging device. Problem solved. I didn't want to buy a new phone, and I didn't have to.

With the amount of information available and the ease with which it can be accessed, there does seem to be a bit of merit in the suggestion that ignorance may be a choice. Except that I'm not sure what we're really talking about is ignorance. I think it might be laziness. I'm always helping my co-workers with various computer-related problems even though doing so is not even close to being part of my job. "How do you know so much about this stuff?" I show them where I find the solution to their problem and how easy it was to find. And yet, they rarely bother to look for themselves. Is this ignorance or laziness?

I have family members who are the same way. I make more excuses for them because they are old enough at this point that they are not completely comfortable with the Internet. They would rather call someone (often me) or take their computer, phone, or other device to a store. This is tough for me to understand because I'd prefer to fix it myself, especially when doing so can be so easy. When I've asked them about this, I get various answers. But they boil down to the fact that they'd rather not expend the effort to try to fix it on their own. What they don't realize is that looking up a solution on Google often takes a fraction of the time and energy as going to a store and dealing with a clueless salesperson.

How About Atheism?

If people today remain largely ignorant about the meaning and nature of atheism, is it a matter of ignorance or laziness? The information is out there. It is not terribly difficult to find these days. If they are ignorant by choice, is laziness the critical mechanism?

Apart from ignorance and laziness, I'd like to suggest that intellectual curiosity may be the concept we're seeking. People vary as to the importance they place on knowledge itself and their desire to learn about their surroundings. This appears to be a measurable trait.

Some of my co-workers go out of their way not to learn about things that do not interest them. Perhaps this is more a matter of lacking intellectual curiosity than anything else. I love my family, but I think most of them would be among the first to agree that intellectual curiosity is not their strong suit. Might some of those who remain uninformed about atheism do so because they lack intellectual curiosity?

Why does this matter? As far as I'm concerned, both ignorance and laziness have a negative connotation that low intellectual curiosity does not. Being low in intellectual curiosity is not necessarily a bad thing. Carried to the extreme, it may be associated with ignorance, but it usually more about one's priorities. Not everyone is a deep thinker. Not everyone enjoys introspection, reflection, and the like. And that's probably a good thing.

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