The more Republicans talk the less I know how to respond to their ignorance. 

In using the word “ignorance” I mean what its definition says, an absence of knowledge and information, and according to polls and public statements, a majority of Republicans live and move and have their being in ignorance.

What is more, their ignorance is of a special kind. It is intentional, willful, witting. 

Intentional, willful ignorance is significantly different from unintentional, unwitting ignorance. 

Unintentional ignorance can be eliminated with knowledge and information. That’s what makes research, reading, and education so essential.  

Intentional, willful ignorance cannot be eliminated because the people who suffer from it want to stay that way. They have no desire for knowledge and information that could dispel their ignorance.

Of course, given the state of the Republican Party and its leaders today, and the influence of Fix News, we can’t rule out blatant dishonesty being the problem more than ignorance.

Instead of going there, however, let’s assume they are sincere in what they don’t know and in not wanting to know anything different.  

There are multiple examples that this is the case,  perhaps the most pernicious one that the election was stolen from Trump. The one I want to focus on, though, is their claim that wearing masks and social distancing don’t help (the claim that violates their personal freedom is too stupid to deserve comment).

The Republican position of wearing masks is as dangerous as it is so easily debunked.  

The graph below compares the number of hospitalizations in Minnesota in the previous five years when no masks were worn to this past year 2020-2021 when they were.


These figures make one major point – this past year in Minnesota there was virtually no seasonal flu because the coronavirus mask-wearing and social distancing mandate prevented its spread. What is true here is true everywhere.  

A study released last October by the Kansas University, for example, compared counties that have a mask mandate with those that don’t. “We found a 50% reduction in the spread of COVID-19 in counties that had a mask mandate compared to those without,” reported Donna K. Ginther, director of the Institute for Policy and Social Research at the University. 

Tell the results of these and other studies to Republicans and most of them will dismiss them out of hand. They don’t care. They know what they know and do not want to know that they don’t know anything. 

Now that we have the vaccine we are tempted to think needing to wear masks and social distance has passed, but those who know what we don’t are telling us that kind of thinking could lead to serious trouble. 

That warning won’t matter to Republicans. They will follow their intentional, willful ignorance no matter what anyone says. 

None of what I have said is intended to suggest that knowledge is the answer to all problems. It’s not. It doesn’t even make you a nice person. But when it comes to overcoming ignorance there is no substitute for it. 

Unless you’re a Republican.

And that is why until they show some sign of preferring knowledge over ignorance, no one should believe a word they say.