Today's world seems to be painfully saturated in denial and ignorance of how human actions and human behaviour are powerfully impacting the world in which we live and depend on for survival -- with horrifying consequences. The term 'Anthropocene' is the historical reference used by scientists to mark the current epoch of human existence. Paleontologists, anthropologists and climate scientists are deeming the homo sapien sapien's enormous ecological footprint on Earth over the last 10,000 years as catastrophic. And, the root causal mechanism that's responsible for generating this footprint is a lifestyle that author Daniel Quinn coins as 'Totalitarian Agriculture'. Ample evidentiary data shows that we have seemingly reached incontrovertible tipping points that indicate that the nature of these consequences are now in the domain of irreversible. Industrial humans' state of consciousness has been artificially stifled and perverted to such a degree for so long that consequences have gone beyond human intervention. These conclusions appear logical and staunchly convincing as it is clear that the collective unconscious has been systematically programmed to cyclically perpetuate a very old perception of reality to handle the most pressing problems facing the human species — problems induced by the same socioeconomic paradigm and cognitive framework that has led us to this current juncture. 150-200 species are going extinct every day and nobody flinches, or even has the cognizance to logically arrive at this implications' inevitable conclusions.
And herein lies a major fork in the road.
What's interesting is that the more you think about it, especially when it comes to the most critical subject matter, the more it becomes clear that denial and ignorance are inseparable. Ignorance is a weapon conveniently used, consciously or unconsciously, to support and bolster the denialist, reactiveness mentality. And conversely, denialist rhetoric powerfully justifies the false validity of ignorance.
The very definition of the word 'ignorance' is: lack of knowledge, information, or education and the opposite of wisdom. Wisdom today is a cringe-worthy notion that is seen to belong solely to social memes and philosophical literature. True wisdom has no place in the real world.
The word 'ignorance' also comes from the verb 'ignore', which is the act of willfully dismissing information purely on the basis of what's termed in the field of psychology as 'cognitive dissonance'. Or, information that is too difficult to confront due to the absence of emotional intelligence or lackthereof; A form of intelligence that has a direct conflict of interest in today's factory-style education system curriculum. It almost seems that there's a viral approach to blind, reactive, indignant dismissal of information that not only challenges the very underlying ethos of civilized culture (or at least how we've been indoctrinated to believe how civilization is supposed to operate), but also challenges the deeply ingrained value systems propagated by an insane cultural mindset that cushions and reinforces that lifestyle — A lifestyle that, for all intents and purposes, is threatening the entire biosphere.
It's also interesting to observe how frequently 'ignorance' is confused with the word 'stupidity'. Stupidity is defined as 'mental dullness' and/or a 'lack of cerebral or cognitive functionality'. It is evident then that stupidity is a word that is not applicable in the year 2016, especially in the context of denial, as denial immediately states that a person has the cognitive functionality to absorb the information to which he/she has been exposed — but subsequently refuses to acknowledge it or evaluate it objectively. Stupidity is the condition whereby the brain is literally incapable of processing the received information at all, let alone draw any conclusions from the information to which the person is exposed. So, stupidity as a societal problem pales in comparison to ignorance.
Both the accelerative thrust and the dangerously combustible mixture of denial and ignorance suggest that despite living in an age of information abundance and exponentially increasing scientific awareness many people still cling to ignorance and denial as if it's an addiction that cannot be overcome. And at the current pace of technological potential, it seems to be only getting worse. This phenomenon has also been attributed to the stubborn persistence of outdated orthodoxies and dogmatic thought processes that detrimentally metastisize what Dr. Robert Sapolski, professor of Biology and Neurology coins as 'the delusion of metamagical thinking', which inexorably leads to organized institutional religions and mass cults.
Social engineering, sophisticated propaganda campaigns and large scale media programming have also played a significant role in the manipulation of public opinion -- fueling and encouraging the self-reinforcing feedback loop of the denialist, ignorance-oriented mindset. Twentieth century Hollywood, corporate news media and powerhouse lobbyists have proven to be exceedingly successful in preventing the natural disintegration of denialism, especially on matters of public health, true sustainability and radical consciousness shift.
For example, Exxonmobil, one of the largest fossil-fuel corporations has recently been documented to be responsible for funding climate change denial since the 1970s.
Why? The reality of climate change directly threatens the profit margins and market-share of oil, coal and gas (cheap energy). Market logic dictates that if the public mind was ever allowed to intelligently unite to confront the biospheric ramifications of drilling, mining and burning of fossil-fuels — then demand for a whole new energy infrastructure would immediately and exponentially increase. The rehashing of the potential of cold fusion as an energy source generator, since 1989 (among others) has been documented to be the most threatening competitor to all forms of energy use today.
Another reason for the successful proliferation of denial and ignorance is institutional self-preservation. Corporations, by design, will do everything in its power to preserve itself, regardless of social and environmental cost, for it has large numbers of share-holders and investors who cannot afford to see a decline in growth and profitability. Our entire civilization is unequivocally dependent on and cannot continue without the infinite exploitation of cheap energy. The oil, coal, gas and banking industries must not be allowed to fail, otherwise everything else fails with it. Denial and ignorance are the driving force of keeping the whole thing together, even when it's clear that it is unsustainable.
Another example is how commercial advertising and television programming have created a social atmosphere of colossal denial with respect to the environmental costs of maintaining animal agriculture. There are roughly 1.3 billion cows in constant circulation on the planet spewing out levels of Methane (Methane as a greenhouse gas is 100 times more potent than Carbon Dioxide) on an immeasurable scale — showing that the livestock industry is responsible for 51% of greenhouse gas emissions, which makes the livestock industry, by far, the largest climate warmer on the planet -- amounting to more environmental damage than all the global transport system emissions combined.
It is the power of denial that justifies a closed-minded approach when exposed to new information that would inherently contradict long-held belief structures.
What does closed-mindedness mean?
It means 'lack of curiosity'. It means to pretend to know the answers and limit the scope of questions. And with the lack of curiosity leads information abundance to be viewed as either too overwhelming or peripheral — where the drive to extrapolate truth out of information is viewed as merit-less. Numerous experiments throughout the Twentieth Century such as the 'Operant conditioning chamber' from the lab of acclaimed professor of psychoanalysis B.F Skinner have shown how environmental conditioning, especially from a very young age, is the most crucial factor in constructing and solidifying cognitive patterns, which later in life become harder and harder to alter or replace.
Openly discussing and acknowledging how powerful the relationship of denial and ignorance is to human psychology will be a major turning point in authentically tackling and confronting the inescapable human predicament in which we are all currently immersed — If humankind proves capable of such.