By Robert N. Proctor
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Additional resources for Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance
O u r c o m m o n s e n s e picture m a y well be far t o o sanguine, even inverted. T h e closed w o r l d is not a small s t r o n g b o x in the corner of our collective house of codified and stored k n o w l e d g e . It is we in the open w o r l d — w e w h o study the w o r l d lodged in our libraries, from a a r d v a r k s to zymurgy, we w h o are living in a modest information b o o t h facing o u t w a r d , our unseeing backs to a vast and classified empire w e barely k n o w . O n e c a n trace the history of secrecy back to the ancient Babylonians through medieval l o n g b o w s and fin-de-siècle invisible ink, f r o m tightly guarded f o r m u l a e for Venetian g l a s s m a k i n g to the hidden p o u c h e s of diplomatic couriers.
Here some questions for further reflection: W h a t other kinds of w o r k does ignorance do? H o w else is it created, via w h a t other kinds of inat tention, disinterest, calculation, resistance, tradition, or distraction? A n d when does knowledge create ignorance? Wes Jackson has called the modern university " a n engine of distraction"; h o w does pursuit of certain kinds of k n o w l e d g e produce such "distractions"? Is ivory t o w e r reclusion re quired for certain kinds of k n o w l e d g e production?
19. Sissela Random House, B o k , Secrets: 20. M a r i o Biagoli, 1 2 (2002): 21. On the E t h i c s o f C o n c e a l m e n t a n d R e v e l a t i o n ( N e w York: 1990). "From Book C e n s o r s h i p t o A c a d e m i c Peer R e v i e w , " Emergences 11-45. W i l l i a m R . , Secrets o f N a t u r e : A s t r o l o g y a n d A l c h e m y i n E a r l y M o d e r n E u r o p e ( C a m b r i d g e , M A : M I T Press, 2 0 0 1 ) . 22. W . R . V a n M e t e r i n his " P u t t i n g F a l s e F a c e s o n F o r m u l a s " ( F o o d I n d u s t r i e s , O c t o b e r 1 9 4 1 , 4 1 - 4 2 ) advised food chemists to disguise valuable formulas "so that w o r k m e n do not g e t w i s e t o i t a n d c o m p e t i t o r s c a n n o t s t e a l it.
Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance by Robert N. Proctor