Note — May 05, 2019

Agnotology and Epistemological Fragmentation

What’s that sound you say? Oh nothing, just me endlessly screaming into the void. danah boyd threading some paths we’ve covered before but this one is a more manageable read at 9 min and introduces some terms I hadn’t seen before in what I’ve read from boyd (like the two in the title). She does a great overview of how they work, how various groups and individuals use data voids, and how the media get played again and again. Closes with a call to understand these mechanisms and to not trust that credibility is enough, “you have to understand the networked nature of the information war we’re in, actively be there when people are looking, and blanket the information ecosystem with the information people need to make informed decisions.”

But what if ignorance is strategically manufactured? What if the tools of knowledge production are perverted to enable ignorance? In 1995, Robert Proctor and Iain Boal coined the term “agnotology” to describe the strategic and purposeful production of ignorance. … Whether we’re talking about the erasure of history or the undoing of scientific knowledge, agnotology is a tool of oppression by the powerful. […]

One of the best ways to seed agnotology is to make sure that doubtful and conspiratorial content is easier to reach than scientific material. […]

The goal is no longer just to go straight to the news media. It’s to first create a world of content and then to push the term through to the news media at the right time so that people search for that term and receive specific content. […]

The creation of sides is a political project.