Wednesday, August 09, 2006

What's the Difference?

What's the difference between ignorance and apathy?

I don't know, and I don't care.

These are the two greatest problems facing humanity.

There are four kinds of people in regards to these two deficiencies:
1) The ignorant and apathetic - these happy people could be borderline retarded, or raised in a stifling environment, trained only to obey and not to think. Pity these people. Fear them.
2) The ignorant and industrious - the man of all action and no thought. Some might suggest they are better off not knowing how dangerous some of their actions really are.
3) The informed and apathetic - these are perhaps the worst kinds of people. I told someone about what pollution does to old growth forests, what deforestation does to the atmosphere, and what we can do to help prevent these things. He said, "I know all this, I just don't care."
4) The informed and industrious - those dream people you wished everyone would be. They know the world is bigger than they are, but they do what they can to understand it so that they may help make it a better place.

There are two kinds of ignorance: willful, and natural. The willfully ignorant people we may recognise as those religious folks who would like to think a supernatural entity made them and all life. They intentionally ignore evidence that proves evolution, and all the ancillary facts that emerge from this understanding. Literally mountains of evidence is brushed aside, ignored, and actually challenged by these people. I think it says a lot about the power of the mind to distort their worldview in such a way. The mental gymnastics required to perform such a feat are as frightening and frustrating as they are impressive.

If I don't know the mass of the star Pollux, that's pretty understandable. I would have no way of acquiring this information, and any guess of an astronomer would be from millions of miles away and thousands of years old. The universe is a big place, and we are small critters. We cannot be in all places at all times (unless we manage to go warp 10), and thus cannot know everything. But merely knowing what surrounds us is just not enough; our minds must seek more and more information. Remain naturally ignorant of things your whole life, and you'll not find as much joy and satisfaction from the world around you. I can gaurantee that. You can be happy and stupid, but you cannot be happy because you are stupid.

Apathy is when you sit around and don't give a shit about anything. Millions of such people didn't vote in the last US presidential elections. It's not that they didn't know - they just didn't care.

Apathy is worse than ignorance.


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