WILLFUL IGNORANCE – Power, A Marketer Can’t Ignore (Part – 1)

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Ethics and good deeds should be held close to heart. But sometimes, one should forget them to achieve a neutral state of mind. Otherwise, it could cloud one’s judgment. This series is not about a fight against evil or to make you understand what ethics is. Here, the only objective is to find out what works in marketing! So have an open mind before you continue.

I won’t be talking about ordinary ignorance (i.e. when somebody doesn’t know something) or the higher ignorance (which is connected with something unknown or mystery).

This article is first in the series which talks about – Can Marketers use ‘Willful Ignorance’ of people to increase sales? By using it, can they make people believe or do what they want them to?

Willful ignorance can be defined as a disease because of which one loses the ability to abandon false beliefs and something which hold people back to pursue further knowledge.


I was amazed by one of the famous performances of George Carlin (Late American stand-up comedian, actor, author and social critic) in 2005 on ‘American Dream’ when he said – “It’s called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it”. Here is the brief transcript:-

“There’s a reason education SUCKS, and it’s the same reason it will never, ever,  EVER be fixed….Because the owners, the owners of this country don’t want that….The Wealthy… the REAL owners…that control things and make all the important decisions….Forget the politicians. They are irrelevant. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice! You have OWNERS! They OWN YOU…They own all the important land…corporations…Senate…Congress…city halls….judges…big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls.

They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying;  lobbying, to get what they want.  Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else…They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking… That’s against their interests. That’s right. They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago…They want obedient workers… people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shitty jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it…It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it!

By the way, it’s the same big club they use to beat you over the head…with their media telling you what to believe, what to think and what to buy…The game is rigged and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care! Good honest hard-working people; white collar, blue collar it doesn’t matter what color shirt you have on…continue to elect these rich cock suckers who don’t give a Fuck about you…

Nobody seems to care. That’s what the owners count on. The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white and blue dick that’s being jammed up their assholes everyday, because the owners of this country know the truth.

It’s called the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

Transcript by Shoq

He talked about politicians and big rich owners, wanting the population to be stupid and forgetful, and ignorant of their flaws so they could get what they want. They are professionals & they know how to keep you diverted and separated, even if some scandals come to light. They are lens-men who could easily focus certain parts to make a pic look good. But no matter how hard they may try, some things are always black & white. Then how is it possible that they managed to keep these people in grey?

The answer is, ultimately the person makes that choice: consciously or subconsciously. This subconscious part is somewhat similar to ordinary ignorance. And that ‘CONSCIOUS’ part is the main event here folks! I am terming this equivalent to ‘Willful Ignorance’. Think about it! Do you happen to be in a situation when you knew that something is not right or something is too good to be true but ultimately choose not to put efforts to find the reason? Maybe to avoid that sucky feeling that you knew would come, if you find out the ingredients of a yummy dish.

Some use, similar things like Plausible Deniability“& “Willful Blindness to avoid judgment from ethics (for customers) & law (for marketers) for inadequate acts that one is craved to do.

Simply put, “it was better if I didn’t know the shirt was made by child labors. I wanted to wear it so much! But now, I’m scared to even try it. I’m afraid of the guilt that’ll come afterward”.

You see, it’s not just limited to a particular system or politics. There could be many applications of willful ignorance in different industries.

In the next article, you’ll see how it is being used by marketers in the fashion & food industry and the science behind it.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: WILLFUL IGNORANCE – Power, A Marketer Can’t Ignore (Part -2) – My Marketing Door

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