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Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Do you think ignorance is more tolerated in our society than arrogance?

Asked by Simone_De_Beauvoir (39027points) December 4th, 2011

Ignorance, here, isn’t meant as lack of knowledge. Ignorance, here, is meant as a kind of badge people pick up and defend, a kind of ‘I know I should learn this but I won’t’. Do we tolerate that more than arrogance, which is here defined as feeling like you know something or acting like you know something (even if you don’t) and thinking others should know it too. The conversation around stupidity and America’s affair with it is pretty commonplace. Many people have stated that ignorance is rewarded in America, that people proclaim it proudly. That they’d rather someone say “I’m ignorant but I’m just human” than “I want to be better than others”. That as soon as people pull out the ‘I’m just human’ card, everyone forgives them because admitting flaws is celebrated in our culture and fixing those flaws, not so much. Do you think you’re into self-deprecation more than you’re into arrogance? Do you think it’s true that in America, ignorance is defended and arrogance is not, as much? There is an interesting documentary called Stupidity that you can watch if you want more on the topic (though that’s not U.S. specific).

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19 Answers

Coloma's avatar

It’s a free country, people can choose to be arrogant, ignorant ( by whomevers’ standards that would apply to, subjective at best ) if they want to.

I don’t concern myself with the ignorance or arrogance of the world, I concern myself with myself and what I choose.

I’d disagree, that fixing “flaws” is devalued, it is highly valued, especially in “spiritual” and psychological communities.

The fact is we ARE only human, and are all works in progress, some more than others, and this goes for culture and society in general.

This is not to excuse or sidestep consequences, but, it IS a truth, to err is human.

As the infamous “they” say…there are no mistakes, only lessons.

Coloma's avatar

I’d also ad that I consider there to be two sides to the “ignorance” coin.
Basic “ignorance” meaning, uninformed, unconsciousness and largely “innocent”, after all, how can one fault another for something they are not even aware of?

Then there would be, what I’d call, willful ignorance, Having all the facts, knowing better, but doing, whatever, anyway, inspite of the knowledge that it is wrong, immoral, unethical, damaging, etc.

Blackberry's avatar

Uh, yeah….... :P

Arrogance can sometimes be seen as a confidence, which is why it’s easier to get away with I think. An older man once told me that some adults don’t get much smarter, they just learn how to fake it better. For example, sounding more assertive and confident when making statements, regardless if you’re lying or are just misinformed, saying it like you believe it I guess.

You have a point about people admitting flaws, but not doing anything about it. I’ve heard statements along the lines of “well, that’s what I think so I’ll just keep believing this” or “I’m aware of that argument, but I still believe this…” etc.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Coloma Right, I’m talking about the latter in this q.

Coloma's avatar


Well..personally, I am much more tolerant of ignorance than arrogance, althoguh I’d say that wilful ignorance usually also includes arrogance, so, double edged sword there. ;-)

whitenoise's avatar

My experience is that ignorance and arrogance are not mutually exclusive.

They actually seem to come hand-in-hand quite often.

Blondesjon's avatar

Even with your definitions of both, using either as a label is still subjective and clouded by the bias of the one applying the label. Because of this I am unable to make any judgement on society’s tolerance of either.

Remember, one man’s fool is another man’s genius and, as stated above, it’s the observer’s bias that defines the line between arrogance and confidence.

It’s my opinion that referring to another as ignorant is the height of arrogance.

HungryGuy's avatar

Definitely! Just look at the way science is taught is schools. In some schools “creation science” and “intelligent design” are taught alongside real science. Ugh!

Earthgirl's avatar

Humility is not the same thing as self-deprecation.
Arrogance and a know-it-all attitude means you don’t listen to other people’s thoughts and opinions with an open mind. You (that is universal you, not you Simone) think they have nothing intelligent to add to the conversation. You take an attitude that you are “better” than the other person. Maybe you are, maybe you aren’t but I’ve always wondered why being “better” is so important to some people. Why do they need to feel superior? It’s ok to be proud of who you are and what you know. It’s work developing your brain and taking time to learn things. It takes discipline. All that is admirable.

Some of the most intelligent and accomplished people are the most humble too. As much as they know they also are aware of what they have left to learn. They know what they don’t know. That makes them humble.

That said, while admitting your shortcomings is good I don’t think there’ss anything noble or self serving about not trying to improve yourself and expand your knowledge. That is a lifelong project. We are all in different places on that path. We may know a lot about one thing and not much about another. Accepting yourself as you are but still striving to become your best is my ideal.

There is a certain American attitude that I think revels in the stance “that’s what I feel/think and you can’t change my mind” I think it stems from the egalitarian aspect of American society. Elitism is not accepted or condoned. Individualism is king. Unfortunately that can lead to the “willfull ignorance” that some have mentioned here.

zensky's avatar

Not here, thankfully.

Not that I condone arrogance, but it’s better to be smart and know it – than stupid and not.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

I think most people form opinions based on their emotions. They then use their higher brain functions to support their opinions.

Highly intelligent people with a large breadth of knowledge are as guilty of this as those with blunt thinking and limited education.

Is ignorance is more tolerated in our society than arrogance? Yes, and likely in most other cultures. They state a feeling, and some supporting facts. You feel they are wrong, and are motivated by your feelings to provide facts that prove your feeling. If your facts make them feel foolish, the person will feel resentful towards you, along with those who share their feelings.

When people admit that they don’t care about your facts, they are being absolutely honest.

I think smart people assume they can change peoples minds with facts, which is a mistake, and perhaps a little arrogant. Most people construct their reality and truths based on their emotions, using only the facts that support their own feelings.

kess's avatar

Arrogance is the daughter if Ignorance….

Confidence is the Son of Knowledge…..

But how can you differentiate between the two…Confidence and arrogance?

You must Know yourself otherwise you are just as those you criticize

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t think so…not if Fluther is any indication.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

What you’ve detailed seems more like obstinacy than ignorance. Ignorance is more tolerable than obstinacy or arrogance.

everephebe's avatar

Yes, in our society.
I’m the opposite though, I’m much more forgiving of arrogance when it’s emanating from intelligent people. I don’t forgive stupid as easy. I had a professor once who told us all that intelligence covers a multitude of sins. He was a pretty damn good professor.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@everephebe I’m with you on this one. Shocking ;)

Paradox25's avatar

I can only attempt to answer this by admitting how I felt about those two terms before reading this post. I have gotten into arguments with others (in person) pertaining to arrogance (overconfidence) vs humility, not arrogance vs ignorance so this is interesting to me.

My definition of arrogance, like mentioned above, is overconfidence, the lack of fear (or lack of ability to feel fear to a high extent) and to undervalue others. Arrogance is not a great quality in my book. Looking at my own perception of the term ignorance I pretty much come up with a definition that is something like: the deliberate act of playing stupid because of perceiving certain ideas/concepts/people as being threats to what makes us feel comfortable.

I guess that because when it comes down to it I consider myself to be the ultimate type of free/individual thinker and I’m about as anti-conformist as you can get. To a degree I can relate to arrogance but not ignorance since I associate the latter term with robotic conformism. How can one respect deliberate stupidity? We have a largely conformist society so I guess that answers your question about why ignorance seems to be tolerated more than arrogance.

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