Required reading in my grad school history program included Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1963), which tracked a long national history of celebrating ignorance. Second-guessing the experts began long before the Internet.
Are egos too fragile to admit ignorance or error? Three thoughts make it easy on the ego to acknowledge how much I don’t know:
1. I know more about some things than others. Thank goodness the contractors who fix our leaks and outages know what they’re doing. Equality doesn’t mean we’re equal at everything.
2. I’m teachable. In my areas of strength, there’s always more to learn. When the facts contradict what I thought I knew, they bring an opportunity to grow.
3. I’m curious. Ignorance can lead in either direction, to ask questions or to think we have all the answers. When we choose to open up rather than close down, we welcome those who have the expertise to answer our questions.
I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.