Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril

by Margaret Heffernan

Paperback, 2012


Walker Books (2012), Edition: Reprint, 304 pages


Presents an analysis of the human tendency towards selective ignorance, discussing why people practice denial and assessing the impact of the phenomenon on private and working lives as well as within governments and organizations.

User reviews

LibraryThing member the.ken.petersen
This book is about the way in which we go along with things; the way in which we fail to take control. Heffernan looks at the BP crisis, the mortgage disaster and many other crises. In many cases there were people who had access to information that made clear the scale of a disaster, or its
Show More
likelihood. They chose to ignore the facts: why? In most cases, not because of criminal fraud, but because they did not feel strong enough to stand up to authority or, even more disturbingly, in a lot of cases, they felt that authority must be right.

Reading this book is a bit like being asked what you would do faced by a homicidal maniac waving a gun at an innocent child: the answer is that one would leap at the miscreant, wrestle the gun from his hands and make a citizen's arrest. In reality, would one do that, or decide that such actions would "endanger the child" and thus leave one, reluctantly (relieved?) to let matters proceed?

When I started reading I was thinking, "I don't believe that people could be as silly as to behave like this." As I progressed through the book, my reaction changed to an acceptance that other people could be so foolish and, as I approached the end, I finally allowed that, in the right (or wrong) circumstances, I would do as these people had done.

This is not a critical book. It does not belittle the people who failed to act, it examines the reasons and challenges the reader to, hand on heart, say that they would have done differently. Having read this, I wish that I could say that, even if I might have done some of these things previously, I am now immune. I cannot. What I can say is that I am armed with the information as to how to recognise the warning signs and, were everybody so to be, the World would be a better place. This book is required reading by... well, everyone.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Copacati
This book should be required reading for every college business and environmental student. If there is a way to save our present society, an understanding of this material will be a crucial part of it. Understanding why we individually, and as groups, see only what we want or expect to see, opens
Show More
the possibility of avoiding the disasters that seem to be allied with modern society.
Show Less
LibraryThing member lycaenidae
Great case studies and examples of this concept of willful blindness related to large organizations and personal lifestyle choices, including helpful prompts for self assessment based on the case study failures and successes.
LibraryThing member kslade
Fascinating book about why a lot of people choose to ignore fatal facts that threaten us. She talks about Enron, an unsafe oil platform that exploded, and other events. She uses brain studies, etc. It hit home. I'm prone to dismiss uncomfortable things. Shows value of honesty and avoiding being a
Show More
yes-person and seeking out criticism.
Show Less




0802777961 / 9780802777966
Page: 0.1374 seconds