Sunday, 20 October 2013


It won't come as any surprise to you that I'm not a fan of ignorance, or to be precise, of wilful ignorance.

If you are young, or simply haven't had the opportunity to know certain things, that doesn't count. Nobody knows everything. Nor do they need to.

Now, I confess I have developed the farmer's habit of having a little joke with people who can't tell a rooster from a hen, etc., and I have actually been known to roll my eyes at those who can't tell a sheep from a goat, but in fairness, you can just leave this stuff to those of us who actually work with them, if you want to. Although you may find your kids correcting you.

No, it's the blatant disregard for fairly basic knowledge that hurts my head.

Example: On Etsy we now have a world map to show where our traffic is coming from, similar to the one on Blogger. It's interesting to know where one is being viewed from, and it could potentially be useful. Even if it isn't, it's fun and the forums are ablaze with it.

One person wrote:

That is crazy! I havent even heard of some of these places!

Now, personally, I wouldn't have said that out loud. No. If that were me, I'd have been rather embarrassed to discover there were countries in the world whose existence I was unaware of.

Yes, I can see that with a poor education, or maybe just not paying attention, it's quite possible for an adult who runs a business to be ignorant of parts of her own planet, but to feel comfortable admitting that in public? I just can't relate to that.

So, I suppose the question is really, what is basic knowledge, and what is advanced or specialist. What do all people need to know, and what really doesn't matter unless you work in that field.

There's no straightforward answer to that. If you are a Mongolian yak herder, then you really don't NEED to know about anything other than yak herding. It's your livelihood and it sustains you, and by becoming an expert, by concentrating on that, you will thrive. It would be foolish to suggest that a Mongolian yak herder needs to know anything about France, or the cell structure of a tomato, or Aristophanes, or lasers.

So there's a sort of situational aspect to this.

Michael, like me, hates advanced math. He, like me, wants to know why he needs to study it. I always felt it was a waste of time. I immediately forgot it all after school, have never needed it since, and wish they'd spent the time teaching me long division, which my husband finally taught me when I was 24, as that's actually useful. But somebody, somewhere decided that all students need to know trigonometry, even if they are barely literate.

So there's going to be biases in the decision of what constitutes "basic" knowledge too.

But we'll give them a break because they are young.

After school, of course, what we continue to learn will depend on personal interests, or the benefit to our careers. Some people wish to concentrate their studies on learning Klingon, sports trivia, or gossip. Others prefer to become world-class experts on something very obscure, perhaps Babylonian weapons, or Icelandic poetry. While many just stay aware of what's going on around them, and while they might never win a pub quiz, they don't look confused and uncomfortable when somebody asks them to point to Syria on a map.

And then there are those who don't care. It's not because they are far too busy with their own personal expertise, they don't actually have any. But so long as they know what time Honey Boo Boo comes on, and the price of a hot dog, they are good to go.

They simply don't care.

Are they happy? They say ignorance is bliss, so my goodness, they must be a jolly bunch. Happy souls. Happy happy joy joy!!

No, I don't believe it either.


  1. I want you to know that the restraint with which I am binding myself, is monumental. I just want you to know this ;) Heavy Metal Goat is calling to me and I remain stalwart.