Today’s adage reflects forgotten wisdom. Ignorance leads to voluntary misfortune. It tracks with another favorite of mine: “luck favors the prepared.” Misfortune is an unlucky outcome. We volunteer for misfortune when we choose ignorance over mental preparation.
You may recall the reversal of this adage. But make no mistake, ignorance is far from blissful. One’s lack of knowledge diminishes opportunities for success and advancement. We choose success when we choose to collect information.
And knowledge is so easy to obtain. Books are abundantly available. The Internet hosts knowledge bases for all to find. One needs only to seek knowledge. No one is forced to be ignorant.
But knowledge alone is not enough to avoid misfortune. We’ll go into specifics after the jump.
Causes of Ignorance
People are willfully ignorant. It is a choice. But we can isolate causes and help spot ways to prevent ourselves from making that choice. By choosing to read these adages, you are making an effort to be knowledgeable. And in being knowledgeable, you stop how ignorance leads to voluntary misfortune.
- Laziness Don’t kid yourself. Half of ignorance (at least) comes from a lack of effort. It takes drive to get informed. Without that drive, people tend to accept the information that comes to them. Sometimes it’s accurate. Often it isn’t. Many times it’s both.
- Distractions Focus does not come easy for many of us. Our thoughts are splintered by technology and distraction. Multi-tasking at work further reduces our attention spans. The result is an ill-informed outlook. When we focus, we can learn truth. But we have to choose to focus.
- Misinformation Everybody knows about fake news. What we don’t really know is how widespread the phenomenon of deliberate misinformation is. Pay attention to a local or national news cast on a regular evening. Many of the segments are little more than repackaged video news releases. They have been created by marketing firms to promote products. Without knowing the source of this “news”, we’d never know if the information presented is accurate or propaganda.
- Lack of context Just as we can gather the wrong information, we can gather information that lacks context. Context is wonderful. It clarifies what we have discovered. Many stories in the news dwell on some fact, without the context that this occurrence is rather commonplace.
Now that we see how ignorance grows, we can stop it cold. Take these actions to thwart how ignorance leads to voluntary misfortune.
- Vet what you hear. It used to be called common sense. Even if it was rare then, the wise posture of scrutinizing information you receive is vital today. Apply logic and rigor to the information you receive.
- Challenge your preconceived notions. We are more inclined to accept as fact information that conforms to our expectations. This is actually a means by which people quickly process information. But sometimes the source expects us to accept without question the detail that has been shared with us. If you don’t challenge your existing notions, you’ll accept most anything that aligns with them.
- Seek out contradictory opinions. We’ll talk more about this in our post on the adage “If something seems to good to be true it probably is”. Until then, let’s focus on how we are often given one segment of an argument without additional information (context) or a counterpoint (balance). Look at the flip side of any argument, especially when it is the only argument shared.
- Figure out who benefits from the information you receive. Those with a classical education may recall qui bono, latin for who benefits. Another popular way of looking beyond the surface is to follow the money. Whatever you choose to do, the more you reflect on who benefits the more you choose to prevent how ignorance leads to voluntary misfortune.
Are you ready to overcome ignorance? Reading is a great way to do so. My schedule is so busy that I rarely have time to pick up, let alone finish a book. Getting a membership to Audible changed all of that. Now I listen while I commute. You can sign up and get two audio books for free. And clicking on that link will help support the Daily Adage, at no extra cost to you. A true win-win arrangement for all of us.