“How do people or companies with vested interests spread ignorance and obfuscate knowledge? Georgina Kenyon finds there is a term which defines this phenomenon”
By: Georgina Kenyon
Published: 6 January 2016; BBC; http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160105-the-man-who-studies-the-spread-of-ignorance
Level of difficulty: **
FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THE ISSUE:
· What is agnotology? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wq-OZXgzdo
BEFORE YOU READ: The Teacher
BEFORE YOU READ: The Students and the teacher
· Janet Kourany: Agnotology https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZz8lUniwHM
1. The paper published in 1979 was significant because….
2. What does “It” refer to in the sentence “It is also a means of establishing a controversy”?
3. The reason Proctor studied tobacco companies was
· To establish the truth about tobacco
· To satisfy his personal curiosity
· To see if smoking tobacco caused cancer
· To see how tobacco companies confused people
· To see what exactly the public knew
4. We understand from Proctor’s research that tobacco companies lied about the facts/ mislead the public / instigated a cover-up / spent a lot on advertising. Mark True or False
5. Why, according to Proctor, is it important to study agnotology? Because agnotology is mainly ………………………………
6. Read the first paragraph of the section “Balancing act”. We draw the conclusion from this paragraph that agnotology is a popular business tactic /Can be a popular business tactic/ is mainly used in politics /Can be used in politics/ is used to spread panic / can be used to spread panic/ is used to spread ignorance/ can be used to spread ignorance. Mark as many as you think are correct.
7. Read the last three paragraphs of this section. Mark True or False
· Balanced debate isn’t a good thing
· Science can be abused by powerful people
· Scientists can create a false picture
· It is not possible to reach a rational conclusion
8. Look back at the same section. What was the purpose of the tobacco companies in responding in the way they did to research into the link between tobacco and cancer?
9. Read the section Titled “A new era of ignorance” carefully to the end. We understand from this section that ill-informed people are in danger of being tricked if….
10. Refer back to the same section. It is implied in this section that…(Mark as many as fit)
· All the misinformation in the public domain is clouding people’s judgment
· Basing opinions on faith, tradition and propaganda is a mistake
· Special interest groups consider ignorance an advantage
· Scientific illiteracy is the reason for the success of the environmental skeptics
11. Read the section titled “Making up your own minds”. Which of the following is an example of an unworkable solution propagated by a person with a vested interest, which is an unconstitutional solution and which is both?
· Stating that the border wall to be built between Mexico and the US will be funded by Mexico.
· Stating that Muslims won’t be allowed into the US
· Stating that global warming is a myth
· Stating that all personally owned fire arms will be confiscated in the US
· Stating that all people of color will be sent to different schools in the US
12. What surprising admission does the writer make about the mass of information available on the internet?
13. The writer warns against being too quick to jump to conclusions because…
Write an essay in which you discuss what agnotology is, how it comes about and what its impacts are. Use both the videos and the text.
THE MAN WHO STUDIES THE SPREAD OF IGNORANCE; KEY AND TEACHERS’ NOTES
The topic covered in this text is probably one of the most important and one of the most relevant to the modern world. It is essential that students’ eyes be opened to this business tactic that has invaded all areas of life.
1. It revealed many of the tactics employed by big tobacco to counter “anti-cigarette forces”.
3. 4, You need to determine what This revelation refers to in order to answer the question.
4. False, True, True, False
5. A political ploy, a deliberate creation by powerful agents who want you not to know.
6. Can be used in politics. This is the only correct answer as although some of the others are correct for agnotology, they are not conclusions we can draw from this paragraph.
7. They are all false
8. To create a false picture of the truth; OR to create ignorance
9. Special interest groups work hard to create confusion about the issue
10. All true
11. Unworkable, Both unworkable and unconstitutional, Doesn’t fit, unconstitutional, unconstitutional
12. The internet is helping to propagate ignorance
13. We are being mislead into a false sense of expertise