Ignorance ain’t bliss. Why I learned to turn off the TV news and go and do something less self-harming instead

war_is_peace___1984_by_abhijitdara-d53sienMuch as I have tried to impose my own personal news blackout on Article 50, Brexit, everything to do with the ignorant moronic fool in the White House and Scotland’s never-feckin-endum – well, it’s not just hard, it’s impossible.

The reasons I prefer to watch Storage Wars: Texas rather than tune into TV or radio news programmes are too numerous to note.

But one strand features strongly across all of the things I mentioned in the opening par – the rise and acceptance of wilful ignorance, not simply from ordinary folks who don’t want to engage with reality but by politicians who now know adopting this tactic is their easiest route to success.

Psychologists say we human beings can experience three types of ignorance: ordinary, wilful and higher.

Ordinary ignorance is when you move from unknowing to knowing through learning; higher is when you accept that there mysterious things, the truth of which may never be known to you.

Wilful is, to my jaundiced eye, the bastard brother of those other types. Because this is a deliberate choice to ignore the facts of what you know to be true and pretend that something else altogether is actually correct, either for peace of mind or for personal gain.

Alt-facts, if you will. Fake news, perhaps.

And I’ve had my bloody fill of it.

Once upon a time (like, a decade or so ago), politicians, policy-makers, academics, experts would be reasonably patient in the face of the wilful ignorance often demonstrated by the public.

The media (I’m not counting the redtops here) would help by presenting the actual facts of a situation or problem – not without their own inherent bias, of course, but not usually, as too often happens now, with their own “twist” on the truth.

I’ve made my feelings plain on Brexit before. For all the faults of the European Union, I believe leaving the EU for an extraordinarily uncertain future is a matter of supreme economic and social self-harm, which will likely lead to the break-up of the UK. And it is based not only on a tissue of lies but also on wilful ignorance promoted enthusiastically by the Leave campaign and elements of a media that has long promoted Brussels as the seat of all evil.

That sort of behaviour is infectious. It happened in the first Scottish referendum in 2014. An element of it swayed the 2015 general election. It swept Trump into power where even his growing number of policy disasters and blatant untruths unveiled since haven’t dented the “belief” of his followers.

It’s the entire modus operandi of UKIP who consistently say one thing – Europe is terrible, we need to be free, immigrants are ruining the country – and do another (fill their pockets with EU money, insist that Welsh farmers should still get European finance after Brexit, marry German women, shag French women…). Black really is white with these chancers.

The last decade and a half has been, in my opinion, horrendous for UK politics. The next looks a million times worse.

And until we, the electorate, stop accepting the bullshit that suits us when it suits us, we will continue to get the politics and politicians we deserve.

Switching off the news might be the start.

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