Saturday, July 11, 2015

Ignorance is bliss!

Ignorance is bliss! This is a tribute to all those cute little sayings and witticisms that lace their way through our culture and vocabulary. While I will only mention a few it should be noted that many exist and they and often the result of generations of tried and true lessons pounded into the collective heads of mankind. Now back to the title of this article, "Ignorance is bliss!"  The lyrics from a song that was popular years ago indicated that "things get a little easier once you understand." However, I find this is often not true.

This Chart Is Scientific Proof Of Our Path! 

Like many people, I often think about just giving up and chucking it all. Oh, how sweet it is not to know the truth and be so oblivious as to the dangers lurking around every corner that you awake each day to a world of calm serenity.  The chart to the left proves and shows without any doubt the scientific correlation between ignorance and happiness, this explains a lot about life and leaves little doubt as to the benefits of a lazy mind.

A Reassuring Lie Has Many Fans
It is often hard to quantify just how intelligent the masses are but, it is safe to say many people could not qualify as a rocket scientist. I strongly suggest it is not by accident the phrase "an inconvenient truth" came about or that "da Nile" is not only a river in Egypt.  Denial is a place or state where many people live out much of their life. It is often not very reassuring to question what we are told and far easier to go with the flow or accept the general consensus that the person you are following actually knows where they are going.

Reality Can Lurk Just Below The Surface

Some of the drawbacks related to pursuing knowledge alluded to above may be only the tip of the iceberg in explaining why so many people choose the well-traveled path of being happy with what is, rather than thinking about what could be. I salute those who pick to live their life in a place where the color of the sky is of their choosing. The only problem with choosing the path of ignorance is the possibility that the illusion might collapse at any time if reality chooses to raise its ugly head.

In a world where Goldman Sachs is busy claiming to be doing God's work and a large swatch of mainstream media might claim to also stand upon the moral high ground, it is hard to find a good anchor. Nowhere to be seen on CNBC, Bloomberg, the WSJ, or any other status quo propaganda media outlet is much that resembles honest or thoughtful information. Their job is not to analyze or seek the truth. Their job is to keep their government patrons and Wall Street advertisers happy while keeping the masses sedated, misinformed, and pliable.

After years of economic propaganda, artificially inflated stock prices, dishonest accounting, laced with pandering and outright lies we find Washington and the media have hollowed out our culture lulling most unsuspecting Americans to sleep. The rest of the world has not fared any better. Few among us no matter how dumb or how dense think the world would not be better off if they were in charge and calling the shots as ruler supreme. One thing is very clear, the issues a person would make their priorities if they held such a station of power speaks volumes as to what they value and what they hold dear.

I must say this article has been in the works for longer than you might imagine. It takes a great deal of effort to put together such a profound piece of drivel and I hope I got the balance right. I find both solace and comfort in the idea that I'm not nearly as stupid as many of the people who occupy this world. Thank goodness the bar has been set so low because it creates a situation where it becomes much easier to compete. Sadly, this double edge sword leaves us living among people that are not too bright and unburdened by the worry of reality. I must admit it is rather ironic we who claim to see the bigger picture often envy their happiness?

As a final thought to ponder below is a link to; Always Look on the Bright Side of Life - Monty Python's Life of Brian  


  1. Hi Bruce, great labour of love, your blogs.

    There's no disagreeing with your premise / conclusion about blissful ignorance here...and yet, let me submit this construct for your consideration:

    1. If ignorance can be thought of as a creed (let's call it BI for Blissful ignorance) with its own belief system and its own myths and explanations for the vicissitudes of life, then those whom you consider ignorant and those, including yourself, that you consider to be clear-eyed, are but two points on adjacent waves of a very large spectrum stretching from absolute untruth to absolute truth. The only difference being that they are in a majority, and you, being 'ahead of the curve' are in a minority. What I mean to say is that we ought to inject some relativity into this aware-unaware dichotomy and we perhaps begin to wonder how much is the relative distance between these two interpretations compared to the actual absolute reality, and, as a first derivative, between the predictions of the two interpretations about the future vis-à-vis what in actuality comes to pass (I've introduced the first derivative as a test of the hypothesis that can roughly be put as "Happily Ignorant now means unprepared for future shocks and therefore unhappy in future")

  2. 2. Being in a brute majority has its advantages - you see, an adherent of the creed of BI is, well, ignorant, on an individual level, but since we agree the substantial majority ARE adherents nonetheless, collectively they command a very significant heft in forming a society's / a nation's overall 'opinion' about the current state of affairs and 'prediction' of the future (and dare I add, to its reaction / response to it)

    (By the way, I suspect population distribution on this spectrum will tend to be normally curved, with a near constant, negatively sloped ignorance / occourrence ratio)

    This distribution may work broadly in two ways:

    a) About things this opinion and prediction is extraneous to and cannot affect materially, adherence to BI is eventually punished with a shock tectonic adjustment with the plate of reality and a societal earthquake takes place. It’s somewhat like saying that if the vast majority of passengers aboard Titanic are BI adherents and believe it is unsinkable, that collective belief will not do anything at all to change the fact that the Titanic eventually sinks. In this case, the few CE (clear-eyed) individuals save themselves by jumping into the lifeboats in time, and BI adherence is clearly not profitable on individual and collective level.

  3. b) However most situations in a society's / nation's life are not Titanicesque, i.e., not completely out of society's influence or remedy. Actually to my mind, there is a spectrum here too - stretching from situations completely out of explanation, prediction, control AND remedy (like a gamma ray burst) to those somewhat in prediction but largely out of control, but in limited remedy / evasion (like a meteorite on collision course or an earthquake) to events like World Wars, Iran crisis, oil shock, Chernobyl, , Y2K, 9/11, subprime crisis, Fukushima (the nuclear one), Heartbleed to things like police racism, divorce rates, teenage pregnancies, and so on.

    On this spectrum of explanability, predictability, remediability, controllability, the really bad things are very rare and the majority of (less) bad things are clustered in the middle and the really good things (say earth self-healing global warming) also are very highly improbable - in other words this spectrum too tends to be distributed normally with a near constant probability / impact ratio.

    3. What I am getting at is that while in case a), BI is really a poor strategy to follow, in case b) the interaction between these two normal distribution spectra of BI adherents’ number and future events’ amenability to influence, amelioration or redress gives rise to the curios phenomenon that in the majority of cases, adherence to BI is good on a collective level not only as a fatalistic ostrich reaction but as a shield to blunt the impact of bad things that, if the majority was clear-eyed, would hurt us more and more often, collectively.

    So, here’s what I propose – Blissful Ignorance and the happy belief that we will get by just fine is collectively effective in retarding, softening and sometimes altogether averting societal crises, whereas being clear-eyed may actually work as a reverse fatalism and precipitate bad things sooner, harder and more often.

    As a counter to this hypothesis of mine, I submit that a thing like global warming is not satisfactorily explained by this model, as both predictability and controllability are said to be so high, and yet we hurtle along, BLISSFULLY, to our destruction as a species. But here, I’m tempted to introduce another element to explain this phenomenon – that of cyclicity about most things in nature, society, politics, economics, finance – even stocks, and to posit that if the spectrum of known-unknown is a closed loop instead, are clear-eyed people really ahead of the curve or just in a trough where they can’t see beyond the looming deluge…but…may be some other time.

    Would really like your thoughts on this in a future blog and thank you so much for such interesting and informative blogs, always.

    Maneesh Dubey

  4. @Thanks for the post Bruce!

    @Maneesh@Bruce, How do you see the problem of BI in context of India. We save in physical gold, still the mass population is reluctant to take debt, our Debt/GDP ratio is better than lot of countries.


  5. Speaking of ignorance, no, spelling is not very important if the meaning is clear, but its not "dribble" it DRIVEL.....

    The article you wrote is excellent, but the question is "ignorance of what is bliss"? My neighbour Joaquin died a couple of years ago. He was was illiterate, yet he'd been to the Portuguese colonial wars in Angola, worked as a small hold farmer and nursed his sick wife for many years before her death.... He new little of the wider world that many out their would say was essential to know in order to be "intelligent" . He was the wisest man I new. He new himself, he his relations to others, he loved life, he accepted death. And he thought deeply about each statement h made.

    Some people are just confused by what they think they know.

  6. Thanks for pointing noting that my choice of wording was off a tad it seems this is a common error and the adjustment has been made. It seems “dribble” and “drivel” originally meant the same thing: drool. But the two words have become differentiated. When you mean to criticize someone else’s speech as stupid or pointless, the word you want is “drivel.”

    Thanks for the wonderful comment.