Willfully ignorant vs. aggressively skeptical

Challenging the status quo is what I do for a living. Either that or encourage other people to do it.

But there are two ways to do it, and one of them is ineffective, short-sighted and threatens the fabric of the tribe. The other seems to work.

I heard someone screaming about death panels and how the government was not only going to kill his grandmother, but would take out Stephen Hawking himself if it had the chance.

The screaming is a key part, because screaming is often a tool used to balance out the lazy ignorance of someone parroting opposition to an idea that they don't understand. (If you want to write to me about this post, please write to me about the screaming part, not about whether or not you agree with the facts or the science. That's what the post is about, the screaming.)

If you want to challenge the conventional wisdom of health care reform, please do! It'll make the final outcome better. But if you choose to do that, it's essential that you know more about it than everyone else, not less. Certainly not zero. Be skeptical, but be informed (about everything important, not just this issue, of course). Screaming ignorance gets attention, but it distracts us from the work at hand.

It's easy to fit in by yelling out, and far more difficult to actually read and consider the facts. Anytime you hear, "I don't have the time to understand this issue, I'm too busy being upset," you know that something is wrong.

Brands face this as much or more than politicians do. I witnessed a knock-down fight between two teenagers over which operating system was best. There are generations of arguments between Ford and Chevy owners. Motorcycle gangs are often parochial in their choice of bike. And in each case, the less people know, the more they yell.

If you want to change what your boss believes, or the strategy your company is following, the first step is to figure out how to be the best informed person in the room.