Recognizing the difference between ignorance and stupidity is a big step toward seeing that there is a positive side to ignorance. Stupidity is rightly seen as a bad thing. Ignorance, though, isn’t the same as stupidity, and so might not be such a bad thing.
Still, in most of our minds there is a natural connection between ignorance and stupidity. This is why many of us are embarrassed to be caught not knowing something. Few of us want to hear someone laugh and say, “What do you mean you’ve never heard of _______?!? HOW DUMB ARE YOU?” So, instead of admitting our ignorance about something, we often pretend that we do know about it, and hope no one discovers our secret.
Faking it is very common. To avoid looking bad, we pretend we know more than we really do. Norm MacDonald admits to faking it:
While faking it is both natural and understandable, I believe it’s bad for several reasons. Mainly, of course, it’s dishonest. Owning up to our ignorance is simply more genuine. But faking it is more intellectually damaging than other forms of dishonesty. In a few upcoming posts, I’ll explain these other reasons to avoid faking it.