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Thinking hardly
or hardly thinking?

Icon philosophy.svg
Major trains of thought
The good, the bad,
and the brain fart
Come to think of it
Where ignorance is bliss, 'Tis folly to be wise.
—Thomas Gray[1]
The realm of ignorance is so vast that no one volume can fully cover all of it.
— Ilya Somin on the Routledge International Handbook of Ignorance Studies[2]
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
—Martin Niemöller

Ignorance is lack of knowledge regarding a particular subject. It should not be confused with stupidity; many people might be uninformed (ignorant) about the facts of, say, evolution, but are quite knowledgeable (not stupid) on many other subjects. Education (below or at university level) tends not to instill reasoning power, but teaches how to pass various tests. The competition of peer pressure and religious teaching can easily overwhelm the teaching of compulsory (and therefore less liked by students) secular education. The beliefs of parents are the third leg of information input. It ain't the poor dear's fault — it's the fault of the system. Homeschooled people might receive misinformation from all three education directions.

Propaganda is the attempt to influence the ignorant by pushing information with a particular point of view (POV).

  • The platforms Breitbart and InfoWars, known for their far-right stances, typically disseminate content that aligns with propaganda due to its ideologically driven and often one-sided nature. Similarly, from the far-left perspective, platforms like WSWS and Democracy Now are often considered sources of propaganda, as their content strongly reflects their political ideologies.
  • In contrast, AP News and The New York Times are renowned for producing information that is based on journalistic integrity and an effort towards neutrality, making them reliable sources of information. Additionally, BBC represents a source of information known for its balanced reporting and commitment to journalistic objectivity, often considered as a benchmark for reliable information.[note 1][note 2]

Remember: your propaganda is my information (and vice versa).

Of course, "ignorance ≠ stupidity" has the corollary "knowledge ≠ intelligence." The guy who wins the quiz down at the pub is in all probability not the most intelligent, just the most knowledgeable about trivia.

Ignorantia juris non excusat (ignorance of the law is no excuse) is a general legal principle that means ignorance will not help in one's defense. Using ignorance as an excuse is different than using lack of intent as an excuse, which will work for some crimes, such as perjury, which requires intent, but not for making a false statement while under oath, which does not require intent.

See also[edit]

  • Willful ignorance — not so much being ignorant than failing to acknowledge facts
  • Faith
  • Dunning-Kruger effect — a phenomenon wherein when someone is uninformed about a given subject, they tend to overestimate their knowledge and competence at it, and vice versa
  • Fractal wrongness — a combination of gross ignorance and utter misinformation resulting in viewpoints that are completely divorced from reality


  1. While AP News, The New York Times, and BBC strive for accuracy and fairness, no source is completely free from bias or error.
  2. These organizations have rigorous editorial standards to ensure the quality and reliability of the information they provide.