“He can’t see his hand in front of his face” isn’t a compliment. That much is obvious. The reality, though, is usually not that someone can’t see a hand, it’s that they don’t want to.
My dad has had the unpleasant task of attending to gruesome scenes over his career in law enforcement. Over time the kind of brutality that would horrify most of us becomes manageable to some extent. I guess the same is true in journalism or any field. Things that cause us fear or some other form of distaste become something we may still not like doing, but we find ourselves able to do it without much trauma.
During this week’s podcast I tell two stories about my dad’s interactions with tough scenes to illustrate how we sometimes blind ourselves to reality. In the face of all evidence to the contrary we will go on believing things that to an outsider make no sense. It’s often because we have a vested interest in believing otherwise. In one case during this episode it may be trauma causing the blindness.
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Some material from this week’s podcast comes from Margaret Heffernan’s book Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at our Peril. More information about the situation in Libby, Montana can be found on NPR and via Associated Press.
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