Quotations about   willful ignorance

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There are crimes I don’t commit mainly because I don’t want to find out I could.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays #124 (2001)
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Added on 13-Jul-21 | Last updated 13-Jul-21
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Ignorance is not bliss — it is oblivion. Determined ignorance is the hastiest kind of oblivion.

Philip Wylie (1902-1971) American author
Generation of Vipers (1942)
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Added on 6-Jul-21 | Last updated 6-Jul-21
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Throughout our nervous history, we have constructed pyramidic towers of evil, ofttimes in the name of good. Our greed, fear and lasciviousness have enabled us to murder our poets, who are ourselves, to castigate our priests, who are ourselves. The lists of our subversions of the good stretch from before recorded history to this moment. We drop our eyes at the mention of the bloody, torturous Inquisition. Our shoulders sag at the thoughts of African slaves lying spoon-­fashion in the filthy hatches of slave-ships, and the subsequent auction blocks upon which were built great fortunes in our country. We turn our heads in bitter shame at the remembrance of Dachau and the other gas ovens, where millions of ourselves were murdered by millions of ourselves. As soon as we are reminded of our actions, more often than not we spend incredible energy trying to forget what we’ve just been reminded of.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014) American poet, memoirist, activist [b. Marguerite Ann Johnson]
“Facing Evil,” Interview by Bill Moyers (1982)
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Added on 30-Apr-21 | Last updated 30-Apr-21
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You submit to tyranny when you renounce the difference between what you want to hear and what is actually the case. This renunciation of reality can feel natural and pleasant, but the result is your demise as an individual — and thus the collapse of any political system that depends upon individualism.

Timothy Snyder (b. 1969) American historian, author
On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (2017)
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Added on 28-Apr-21 | Last updated 28-Apr-21
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See no evil, hear no evil, makes you seem really evil.

Stephen Colbert (b. 1964) American political satirist, writer, comedian
Late Show (9 Feb 2021)
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Added on 3-Mar-21 | Last updated 3-Mar-21
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There are a lot of things we don’t want to know about the people we love.

Chuck Palahniuk (b. 1962) American novelist and freelance journalist
Fight Club ch. 13 (1996)
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Added on 21-Jul-20 | Last updated 21-Jul-20
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The truth which makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.

Herbert Agar (1897-1980) American journalist and historian
A Time for Greatness, ch. 7 (1942)

Cf. John 8:32.
Added on 13-Oct-16 | Last updated 13-Oct-16
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But freedom isn’t free. It shouldn’t be a bragging point that, “Oh, I don’t get involved in politics,” as if that makes someone cleaner. No, that makes you derelict of duty in a republic. Liars and panderers in government would have a much harder time of it if so many people didn’t insist on their right to remain ignorant and blindly agreeable.

Maher - involved in politics - wist_info quote

William "Bill" Maher (b. 1956) American comedian, political commentator, critic, television host.
When You Ride Alone You Ride With Bin Laden (2002)
Added on 16-Feb-16 | Last updated 1-Jun-16
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We lie to ourselves, in order that we may still have the excuse of ignorance, the alibi of stupidity and incomprehension, possessing which we can continue with a good conscience to commit and tolerate the most monstrous crimes.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“Words and Behavior,” The Olive Tree and Other Essays (1936)
Added on 28-Oct-15 | Last updated 28-Oct-15
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Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
The Magician’s Nephew (1955)
Added on 21-Oct-15 | Last updated 21-Oct-15
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A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Spurious)

First attributed to Twain in 1945, but not found in his works. Earliest appearances of the quote date back to 1910, but are unattributed. It's often attributed to Abigail Van Buren (Dear Abby), but she didn't say it until 1966. See here for more information. Variants:
  • "Who can see the barely perceptible line between the man who can not read at all and the man who does not read at all? The literate who can, but does not, read, and the illiterate who neither does nor can? [Original form.]
  • "The person who does not read has no advantage over the person who cannot read." ["Dear Abby", 19 Oct 1966]
  • "The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."
Added on 13-Dec-12 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Who is so deafe, or so blynde, as is hee,
That wilfully will nother heare nor see?

[Who is so deaf, or so blind, as is he,
That willfully will neither hear nor see?]

John Heywood (1497?-1580?) English playwright and epigrammist
Proverbes, Part 2, ch. 9 (1546)
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Added on 22-Jun-11 | Last updated 13-Jul-20
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A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.

Saul Bellow (1915-2005) Canadian-American writer
To Jerusalem and Back (1976)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 14-Jun-17
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There are two things which cannot be attacked in front: ignorance and narrow-mindedness. They can only be shaken by the simple development of the contrary qualities. They will not bear discussion.

John Dalberg, Lord Acton (1834-1902) British historian
Letter (23 Jan 1861)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 12-Feb-20
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