Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ignorance is Bliss

on Foreign Policy In Focus

Here's the secret to the last seven years of foreign policy disasters coming from Washington. President Bush has become an acolyte of Timothy Ferriss.

Haven't heard of Ferriss yet? He's the motivational author who champions a four-hour work week. In order to slim down his schedule, Ferriss recommends a low-information diet. "I never watch the news or buy the newspaper," he writes. "I read the headlines through newspaper machines as I walk to lunch each day. My selective ignorance has never caused a single problem for me."

Ferriss has become a guru to many who are overwhelmed by the modern disease of TMI (Too Much Information). Even the lords of Silicon Valley, many of whom have helped make TMI an epidemic, are now putting up little altars to Ferriss in their offices.

No one has yet explored the impact of Ferriss on Washington. But "selective ignorance," based on a cursory understanding of world events, is a powerful explanation for the failures of U.S. policy in Iraq. We knew so little about Iraq before invading it. We knew even less, it seems, when we tried to occupy it. And we continue to be ignorant of Iraqi realities as we desperately search for a face-saving way out of the debacle. The low-information diet also helps to explain the administration's inability to understand the Israeli-Palestinian problem or why a hard-line policy toward Iran is such a disaster.

It's not just the Bush administration, of course, that has gone on the low-information diet. Large swathes of the media have cooperated in this strategy by reducing the actual news content from their reporting.

The rest of the thought after the click ...

My comment: This doesn't bode well for the idea of an educated electorate. How can one make informed decisions if one willfully retains their ignorance of what's going on around them. Curiosity seems to be dead.

We are surprised by developments in the world, but we have no good reason to be surprised.

It seems Ferriss is an advocate of the antithesis of "get a life". He's outsourced most of his. Someone else is living most of it for him. Does the term "intellectual bankruptcy" apply?

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