Ignorar os ignorantes

STANFORD – As pessoas têm o direito de ser ignorantes. Assim como podemos escolher prejudicar a nossa saúde por comermos demais, fumarmos cigarros e deixarmos de tomar os medicamentos prescritos, também podemos optar por permanecer desinformados sobre os assuntos políticos.

É provável que a ignorância às vezes faça sentido. Segundo os economistas, a “ignorância racional” entra em acção quando o custo de se obter o entendimento suficiente de uma questão, para se tomar uma decisão informada relacionada com ela, supera o benefício que se pode esperar em fazê-lo de forma razoável. Por exemplo, o grande número de pessoas que está preocupado com a família, a escola, o trabalho e as hipotecas, poderá não considerar rentável examinar minuciosamente uma grande quantidade de dados, muitas vezes inconsistentes, para entender, por exemplo, os riscos e os benefícios da energia nuclear, dos plastificantes nos brinquedos para as crianças ou da dieta mediterrânica.

A avalanche de informação contraditória referente aos custos e benefícios de diversos alimentos exemplifica o desafio inerente à tomada de decisões informadas. Num estudo recente, Jonathan Schoenfeld e John Ioannidis descobriram que, apesar do entusiasmo da comunicação social, as pretensões “científicas” de que vários alimentos causam ou protegem contra o cancro não são frequentemente apoiadas por meta-análises (análise dos resultados obtidos a partir de vários estudos). Tal como Ioannidis referiu, “As pessoas ficam com medo ou acham que deveriam mudar as suas vidas e tomar grandes decisões; e depois as coisas são refutadas muito rapidamente”.

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