Sunday , May 26 2024
Agnotology is a term that has been invented to describe "the cultural production of ignorance".

Agnotology: a new word

Agnotology is a term that has been invented to describe “the cultural production of ignorance”.

A call for papers explains further:

Examples include the ignorance of cancer hazards caused by the “doubt” peddled by trade associations (Brown and Williamson’s “doubt is our product”), the non-transfer of birth control technologies from colonial outposts to imperial centers (by virtue of successive chains of disinterest and suppression), the non-development of certain technologies by virtue of structural apathies or disinterest, impacts of disciplinarity on agnotogenesis, etc.

…The idea is that a great deal of attention has been given to epistemology (the study of how we know), when “how or why we don’t know” is often at least as interesting-and remarkably undertheorized by comparison.

Checking out the term, Google took me to a blog, Bloggence, Cunning, Exile, that explains more, (also here).

Another blog provides the example of doctors losing the ability to turn breech births.

An historical example: Towards the end of ancient Egyptian civilisation, it lost the ability to make “proper” mummies. The technology had always been closely guarded, and it must have been during a period of political and military turmoil that a few key people died, and that was that. (Incidentally that’s how we come to call them mummies: the Arabic word mumiya was applied to the later “mummies”, which were simply coated bodies with bitumen and wrapped.)

About Natalie Bennett

Natalie blogs at Philobiblon, on books, history and all things feminist. In her public life she's the leader of the Green Party of England and Wales.

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