In a recent post that’s made it’s way around blogtopia (and yes, skippy invented that phrase), I referred to willful ignorance. I’ve used that phrase before, and one troll decided to get hung up on that phrase (even though I then explained it). In one of those internet tubes, I found an excellent parody of the anti-gay spew vomited forth by various rightwing faithtanks called “The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing the Myths.” The whole thing is worth a read, but in the part where the author explains how to write a similar parody is an excellent description of willful ignorance (bold original; italics mine):
But when I put it all together, I had to be very deliberate in everything I did: the sources I used (and those I ignored), the words I chose, the points I made. And I had to carefully ensure that the data I cited could somehow support the point I was making — even though the authors I cited would certainly disagree with how I was using their data. (I presume many would angrily disagree if I were not writing a parody.)
Nothing in this tract appeared out of nowhere, and none of it came about by accident. It was all very deliberate. And this leads me to one inescapable conclusion: No one can write something like this by mistake.
Let’s be clear. Anyone can make a few errors here or there. I probably did. But we’re not talking about isolated mistakes or errors in interpretation. We’re talking about the consistent use of these methods I described as a deliberate tactic. And what this tells me is that the people who put together similar anti-gay tracts — all of those antigay organizations and all of the so-called “professionals” supporting their work — they’re not writing their stuff by mistake either. They know exactly what they’re doing.
How do I know this? I know this because I read the same reports they did!
And guess what? The sources they cite in their references aren’t nearly as complicated as you might think. They may be professional journals but they’re not rocket science.
These studies are usually written in surprisingly common English using not-too-difficult math. To say that these anti-gay writers just made a few mistakes or didn’t fully understand what they were reading would imply that their reading and math skills haven’t risen above those of a college freshman. Since most of these people consider themselves experts — many of them sport Ph.D.’s after their names — that explanation just doesn’t hold water.
So this leaves me with the only other possible conclusion: They know exactly what they’re doing and they’ve chosen to do it as a tactic.
Willful ignorance: it’s not just for creationists anymore.