Choosing Not to Know
Psychologists, economists, historians, computer scientists, sociologists, philosophers, and legal scholars explore the conscious choice not to seek information.
The history of intellectual thought abounds with claims that knowledge is valued and sought, yet individuals and groups often choose not to know. We call the conscious choice not to seek or use knowledge (or information) deliberate ignorance. When is this a virtue, when is it a vice, and what can be learned from formally modeling the underlying motives? On which normative grounds can it be judged? Which institutional interventions can promote or prevent it? In this book, psychologists, economists, historians, computer scientists, sociologists, philosophers, and legal scholars explore the scope of deliberate ignorance.
Drawing from multiple examples, including the right not to know in genetic testing, collective amnesia in transformational societies, blind orchestral auditions, and “don't ask don't tell” policies), the contributors offer novel insights and outline avenues for future research into this elusive yet fascinating aspect of human nature.
Sarah Auster, Benjamin E. Berkman, Felix Bierbrauer, Gordon D. A. Brown, Jason Dana, Stefanie Egidy, Dagmar Ellerbrock, Christoph Engel, Jens Frankenreiter, Simon Gächter, Gerd Gigerenzer, Russell Golman, Krishna P. Gummadi, Kristin Hagel, David Hagmann, Ulrike Hahn, Ralph Hertwig, Christian Hilbe, Derek M. Isaacowitz, Anne Kandler, Yaakov Kareev, Lewis A. Kornhauser, Joachim I. Krueger, Christina Leuker, Stephan Lewandowsky, Robert J. MacCoun, Richard McElreath, Thorsten Pachur, Peter J. Richerson, Lael J. Schooler, Laura Schmid, Barry Schwartz, Nora Szech, Eric Talley, Doron Teichman, Pete C. Trimmer, Sonja Utz, Lukasz Walasek, Michael R. Waldmann, Peter Wehling, Roi Yair, Eyal Zamir
What do people want to know? This is one of the deepest and most fascinating questions in all of social science. Focusing on deliberate ignorance, Hertwig and Engel offer new and fundamental answers to that question. This book is a major step forward.
Cass Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard University; author of Too Much Information
Is more information desirable? In classical economics, the answer is yes. This book provides compelling theory and examples from medicine, law, and politics to show that, in reality, people often prefer to be uninformed. The result is a fascinating read.
Oliver Hart, Harvard University; Nobel Laureate in Economics, 2016