Agnotology (formerly agnotology) is the study of culturally-induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data. The neologism was coined by Robert N. Proctor, a Stanford University professor specializing in the history of science and technology. Its name derives from the Neoclassical Greek word ἄγνωσις, agnōsis, “not knowing” (confer Attic Greek ἄγνωτος “unknown”), and -λογία, -logia. More generally, the term also highlights the increasingly common condition where more knowledge of a subject leaves one more uncertain than before.
A prime example of the deliberate production of ignorance cited by Proctor is the tobacco industry‘s conspiracy to manufacture doubt about the cancer risks of tobacco use. Under the banner of science, the industry produced research about everything except tobacco hazards to exploit public uncertainty. Some causes of culturally-induced ignorance are media neglect, corporate or governmental secrecy, and suppression, document destruction, and myriad forms of inherent or avoidable cultural-political selectivity, inattention, and forgetfulness.
Agnotology also focuses on how and why diverse forms of knowledge do not “come to be,” or are ignored or delayed. For example, knowledge about plate tectonics was censored and delayed for at least a decade because some evidence was classified as military information related to undersea warfare.
The term “agnotology” was first coined in a footnote in Proctor’s 1995 book, “The Cancer Wars: How Politics Shapes What We Know and Don’t Know About Cancer”: “Historians and philosophers of science have tended to treat ignorance as an ever-expanding vacuum into which knowledge is sucked – or even, as Johannes Kepler once put it, as the mother who must die for science to be born. Ignorance, though, is more complex than this. It has a distinct and changing political geography that is often an excellent indicator of the politics of knowledge. We need a political agnotology to complement our political epistemologies.” 
Proctor was quoted using the term to describe his research “only half-jokingly,” as “agnotology” in a 2001 interview about his lapidary work with the colorful rock agate. He connected the two seemingly unrelated topics by noting the lack of geologic knowledge and study of agate since its first known description by Theophrastus in 300 BC, relative to the extensive research on other rocks and minerals such as diamonds, asbestos, granite, and coal, all of which have much higher commercial value. He said agate was a “victim of scientific disinterest,” the same “structured apathy” he called “the social construction of ignorance.”
He was later quoted as calling it “agnotology, the study of ignorance,” in a 2003 New York Times story on medical historians testifying as expert witnesses.
Proctor co-organized a pair of events with Londa Schiebinger, his wife, who is also a science history professor: the first was a workshop at the Pennsylvania State University in 2003 titled “Agnotology: The Cultural Production of Ignorance”, and later a conference at Stanford University in 2005 titled “Agnotology: The Cultural Production of Ignorance”.
For more information go to this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnotology
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