Proud to Be Ignorant

By Fanu, James le | New Statesman (1996), February 7, 2000 | Go to article overview

Proud to Be Ignorant


Fanu, James le, New Statesman (1996)


The Dome, like the poll tax, shows that our rulers are suspicious of experts. They should shed their prejudice, advises James le Fanu

It had, as for so many others, been a truly dreadful day. Retiring to bed, the same thought kept recurring: "How could they have got it so wrong?"

I could understand that they might not have wished to dwell on the past, on the achievements of the intrepid explorers who had circumnavigated the globe, or the great scientists and philosophers - Newton, Darwin, Hume and Locke - or even that supreme contribution to western civilisation - the welfare state. But there was scarcely an allusion to the contemporary British achievement. Who, walking around the Dome, would have realised that for 30 years the popular music from these islands has been universally recognised as being more creative and ingenious than that of anywhere else? And then, compounding the awe-inspiring banality was the equally impressive incompetence, exemplified by those snake-like queues leading to nothing important.

The following morning, enlightenment of a sort began to dawn. Reading the Letters page of the Telegraph, I learnt that offers of help from public-spirited citizens with expertise in putting on major public events had all been spurned. "In discussion with Jennie Page, chiefexecutive of the New Millennium Experience Company, I was astonished to find that not only had she no experience of what was involved," wrote Mr R A Cunningham from Sussex, "but seemed to think she knew the answers without assistance." And this was even though the Dome, it was hoped (wrongly as it turned out), would attract more visitors than the combined annual attendance of Alton Towers, Madame Tussaud's, the Tower of London and the Natural History Museum.

All this would suggest that the culture of ignorance, nourished during the Thatcher years, flourishes still. Its adherents mistrust those with specific skills or expertise, suspecting that they are interested only in feathering their own nests.

My first personal encounter with this culture of ignorance was the launch of Ken Clarke's blueprint for reforming the health service, "Working for Patients". The venue, appropriately enough, was a television studio somewhere in east London, to which bus loads of the new managerial class, charged with implementing "the most radical changes for 40 years", had been invited. It was a razzmatazz occasion, with strobe lights and piped music, but the vital document itself turned out to be so vacuous, it could almost have been a hoax. There was not the slightest attempt to identify the flaws of our estimable health service or to suggest ways of putting them right. Indeed, no rationale for the reforms was offered at all-simply the broad brushstrokes of a radical and untested notion - the "internal market" in health.

The sole representatives of the medical profession to have been consulted were a small cabal of right-wing doctors, including - it subsequently transpired - a heroin addict and a bankrupt private practitioner. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Proud to Be Ignorant
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.