Ignorance and Indifference: Signs of Our Times?

    An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates
    Volume 11, Number 6

June has brought us a devastating reminder of how cruel man can be to man. The mass murders in Orlando reflect what can happen to a society where people don’t seem to care anymore until there is some major tragedy and they then come together. Why does it take such a horrendous act for people to demonstrate their caring for one another? Society’s institutions seem intent on splitting people into different groups, encouraging protests against one group or another, and dumbing down the populace so as not to question what is going on. Perhaps this process makes good news coverage and insures that there is little change so those in power stay in power.

The shooter in Orlando clearly had mental health issues. The shooter in Sandy Hook clearly had mental health issues. The shooters in Columbine clearly had mental health issues. But instead, the discussion focuses on gun control. While this is a valid discussion, what about identifying those with mental health problems early and getting them help? Why isn’t their more funding for research and options for treatment for those who are likely to kill themselves or others? As long as mental health problems are minimized, tragic events are likely to occur. When will we learn from these events?

This month’s E-Letter focuses on Ignorance and Indifference: Signs of Our Times? This information can be also downloaded as a handout from our E-Letters tab on our website. Our email of the month is about Signers of the Declaration of Independence and our Ask the Doc question is about news addiction. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful. We also thank you for reading our E-Letters and for the many comments we have received through our over 11 years of E-Letters.

Practice News

Depression groups. Our ongoing weekly depression therapy groups have been quite successful. A men’s support group and a women’s support group are run by Dr. Jim Kaikobad and meets for one and one-half hours. The group is educational, supportive, and confidential and is limited to 8 people. A third and fourth group will be starting soon. If you are interested in attending, please contact Jillian at 954 755-2885.

Testings. If you are concerned about your child’s school placement for the next school year, this would be a good time to have them evaluated. Recent questions from parents have ranged from should their child be retained to whether they are gifted to whether they have a disability that can qualify for accommodations at school. Our practice does the different types of evaluations to help answer those questions and information about them can be found on our website. If you have more specific questions, please contact Dr. Kimmel.

Afterschool Tutoring. Tutoring for students in grades 1 through 8 is being offered after school and over the summer in our offices. Jill Kimmel, an experienced educator, will be helping students to understand and learn their academic concepts as well as provide assistance in doing homework. To find out more about our tutoring services as well as to schedule an appointment, please contact Jillian at 954 755-2885.

Handouts from previous E-Letters can be found on our website, www.KimmelPsychology.com. We invite you to read and download them if desired.


Our E-Letter this month focuses on two characteristics that unfortunately seem to be very popular in our society today: Ignorance and Indifference. When people don’t know or when people don’t care, evil events happen. It has been this way throughout history but when will we learn? A quote from George Santayana seems to sum this all up: “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.

But why do people give up on gaining knowledge. Why is it easier to be ignorant and let others make decisions for us? Is it that it requires effort? Is it just easier to have fun instead of putting effort into learning? Should we take for granted what we hear from the talking heads on television and what we read on Facebook or other internet sites is the truth? What happened to our questioning and learning?

Our society used to value a good education …not just having an education. Critical thinking, reasoning, analyzing, and finding answers were prized as educational goals. Now, it seems like consumerism, materialism, getting drunk, partying, and taking drugs to have a good time have replaced these values. What were once role models have been replaced by liars, cheats, egomaniacs, pop stars, and internet sensations who are all very popular. What do they contribute to our society? Or perhaps, making contributions to society is not important anymore.

Yes there are scientists, educators, and great thinkers in our country today. And there are many people who do want to learn and make a positive change in society. Yet following the media, these people get little coverage unless they find a cure or invent something beneficial to others.

Another major characteristic of our society is indifference. People often give up hope for growth or change and just seem to accept whatever happens. If you are indifferent, it may be because you feel depressed, powerless, frustrated, or don’t have empathy for others. Being indifferent allows others to take control of your life. It supports those in charge by just going along with whatever decisions they make and not caring. We live in a society today where we are all intertwined. Seldom does something happen elsewhere that does not affect us in some way. Giving up our right to self-determination almost insures that something bad will happen.

In general, bad things happen to our good society because we let it. We need to be educated and see learning and acquiring information as lifelong processes. We need to be able to think critically and challenge what we are told. We need to have respectful discussions on different topics instead of protests and drowning out of the speakers. We need to recognize the importance of knowing and learning from history. And as importantly, we need to care…about ourselves, our neighbors, and our society. If we remain ignorant and uncaring, our society will not progress but instead be doomed to repeat history.

More specific information about the characteristics of ignorance and indifference is provided below in Ignorance and Indifference: Signs of Our Times? (You can download the following from our E-Letter page on our website.)

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing…Edmund Burke.


  • There are several types of ignorance; some of which can be very harmful
  • Ordinary ignorance refers to basically, a lack of knowledge, and may motivate people to explore and learn more information if they accept that they don’t know everything
  • Higher ignorance refers to recognizing that no matter how much a person knows about something, there is still more to know
  • Motivated ignorance is usually harmful and occurs when people avoid learning potentially valuable information
  • Motivated ignorance is widely used by corporations, governments and politicians to make sure that certain information does not become available
  • Willful ignorance occurs when people choose to ignore the facts or truths; this is the “don’t bother me with the facts” philosophy
  • Willfully ignorant people tend not to evaluate things intellectually unless they have to
  • Ignorant people tend to be conformists; rather than exert effort to think individually, they will believe others and avoid conflict
  • People also often have difficulty with accepting that they are wrong and will stick to their beliefs despite contradictory evidence
  • Ignorance is a common denominator in racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and other forms of extremism
  • Ignorance of performance standards can lead to distorted thinking
  • An experiment at Cornell University by Dunning and Kruger found that unskilled people often believe they have superior skills because of their inability to assess their true abilities
  • Another result of this study found that highly skilled people underestimate their abilities and assume that what is easy for them is also easy for others
  • Indifference occurs when a person stops caring and doesn’t feel bad about it
  • Indifference occurs for several reasons:
  • When there is low self-esteem and the belief in one self is lost
  • When self-confidence or the importance of what you are doing is lost
  • When hope is lost especially after multiple failures
  • When attention is given to another major more important problem
  • Overcoming ignorance and indifference should be a lifelong process of questioning, discussing, and learning
      • WHAT TO DO!

              • Do not accept that it is okay for you to be ignorant or indifferent
              • Recognize that although we may be smart, there is a lot that we are ignorant about
              • Overcome ignorance by learning, reading, challenging, and accepting new information
              • Do not be rigid or stuck in your beliefs; if something is not working, change it
              • Do not accept that all you hear on the news or in social media is accurate
              • Overcome indifference by writing, reading, blogging, expressing your beliefs to others
              • Travel, find adventure, join a group where you can get different opinions
              • Be assertive, create, teach, or volunteer to help others
              • Seek professional help if you have difficulty overcoming being ignorant or indifferent

        WE CAN HELP!
        Call us at 954 755-2885 or email us at DrKimmel@KimmelPsychology.com

        Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates
        5571 N University Drive, Suite 101
        Coral Springs FL 33067

        As always, we would like to welcome new readers to our e-Letter. We hope that you find it informational and enjoyable. We invite you to share this e-Letter with others. If you have received this from a fellow reader, please send us your email address to include you on our list.

        Ask The Doc

        SF writes… My husband is a news junkie. He can sit for hours watching the news and getting upset. It’s like an addiction. If I shut off the television, he gets angry and tells me to leave him alone. He is angry and at times, you cannot talk to him. I feel like I’ve lost the man I love. What can I do?

        Dr. Joel Kimmel replies: S.F. I wish this was the first time I have heard of this problem. To varying degrees, it is happening very often. And unsuspecting viewers get caught up in trying to find out more about what is going on in the world. Like an addiction, there never seems to be enough and people will develop a tolerance and want more.

        News programs today are what we call “infotainment” and not pure journalism. Stories are presented to entertain and grab the viewer so that they will stay on their channel or news feed. Stories are seldom reported without some panel of “experts” giving their opinion on something to worry about. Often, they are wrong. Many questions are asked but you have to continue watching to get the answers. Situations are presented with dire consequences possible, so stay tuned.

        This type of reporting which is seldom accurate or fair can be very harmful to individuals with addiction prone personalities. There is an overabundance of worrisome situations presented, almost constantly. So it is very hard to turn away. As soon as an event happens, it is reported with a lot of speculation and misinformation. As time goes by, often the initial information is changed. Yet one stays tuned to find out more information. Like watching a train wreck, we watch to find out more and more yet we are never satiated

        This year it is worse because of the presidential campaign. Is it any surprise that the campaigns have turned into media circuses with reality star nominees? The more outrageous and disrespectful the comments are, the more viewers the media has. Yes, it makes good television but it is a complete disruption of our values, integrity, and professionalism.

        In regard to your husband’s behaviors, you have a very difficult problem on your hands. What he watches is very rewarding and captivating and getting him to change this pattern is difficult since we are constantly bombarded by the news from many, many sources. However, like an addiction, he can recover. The key is for him to acknowledge that his news watching behavior is a problem. This can occur by getting his attention and eliminating news input while you talk with him. Explain why you think it is a problem. Present concrete examples of the consequences of his news watching on him and your family. Point out how he gets upset regularly and is frequently angry or frustrated. Explain how he is taken away from other relationships and family activities. If his sleeping or eating patterns are affected, let him know. Suggest to him that he has become a voyeur rather than a doer and frequently feels powerless.

        You may need other family members or friends to reinforce this message to him and hopefully, you will succeed. Once he recognizes that his news watching is a problem, you and he can agree on how much he can watch and when. Encourage his participation in family activities and individual activities such as exercising, reading, meditating, and home chores. Finally, try to get him involved in some type of service activity like volunteering.

        Email of the Month

        We would like to thank Richard L. for the following email in recognition of the upcoming Fourth of July:

        Remember the Signers of the Declaration of Independence

        Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

        Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured.
        Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.
        Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.
        Nine of the 56 fought and died during the Revolutionary War.
        They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

        What kind of men were they?

        Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated, but they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

        Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

        Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

        Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Ellery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Rutledge, and Middleton.

        At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr. , noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

        Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, she later died of poor health.

        John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.

        So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently thank these patriots. It’s not much to ask for the price they paid.

        Till July…

        The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.

        If you no longer wish to receive future E-Letter reminders, please send an email to DrKimmel@KimmelPsychology.com requesting to be removed from this list.
        If you find this information interesting or helpful, please forward this E-Letter to your contacts and friends. Copyright © 2016 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates.