One part of understanding propaganda and its effectiveness is understanding why people believe the things that they say they believe. But it is not just individuals — beliefs are shaped by many factors, including institutions and practices. Understanding the nature of belief is important for understanding why it is that knowledge alone (whether you call it facts, truth, science, or whatever) does not compel action.

This section of the propaganda syllabus focuses on ignorance, defined by the OED as a “Lack of knowledge or information.” What is ignorance and why does it occur?

Golman, R., D. Hagmann, G. Loewenstein. (2017). Information Avoidance. Journal of Economic Literature, 55 (1).

Feldman, M. S., & March, J. G. (1981). Information in organizations as signal and symbol. Administrative science quarterly, 171-186.

Nickerson, R. S. (1998). Confirmation bias: A ubiquitous phenomenon in many guises. Review of general psychology, 2(2), 175.

Rayner, S. (2012). Uncomfortable knowledge: the social construction of ignorance in science and environmental policy discourses. Economy and Society, 41(1), 107-125.

Sarewitz, D. (2000). Science and environmental policy: An excess of objectivity, in Earth matters: The earth sciences, philosophy, and the claims of community, ed. R. Frodeman, 255–75.