The Cornered Cat
Ignorance Is Not a Dirty Word

Something interesting about American culture over the past generation or so: we’ve decided that ignorant is a nasty word. There’s no quicker way to make someone feel angry at you than to say, straight up, that they are ignorant of a given subject. It doesn’t seem to matter what the subject is, either; it’s just as insulting to say “Chris is ignorant about rocket science” as it is to say Chris doesn’t know much about home repair, or fashion, or self-defense.

Despite this, not everybody knows everything about everything. Will Rogers spoke truth when he said, “We are all ignorant, only on different subjects.” There’s no shame in it, because it’s a normal human condition.

The things I don’t know fill vast acres of bookshelves in warehouses on Amazon and my local library. They’re crammed into millions of Wikipedia pages and discussion groups and informational websites like this one. They’re all over my house. (Related bleg: Does anyone know how to find a sink stopper that actually fits well enough to hold a sinkful of soapy water for 30 minutes or more?) The things I don’t know fill my world, and that’s okay.

When you tell me I don’t know much about a subject, that’s going to pull me up short. Then I’m going to smile, sit down, and say, “Teach me about that!”

“Seize the moment of excited curiosity on any subject to solve your doubts; for if you let it pass, the desire may never return, and you may remain in ignorance.” – William Wirt

“No man really becomes a fool until he stops asking questions.” – Charles Steinmetz

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