Who Turned Out the Lights? How Critical Race Theory Bans Keep People in the Dark


This paper examines how institutions and legislatures, utilizing contrived ignorance, weaponize ignorance as a control tactic through education restrictions. To begin, a background on agnotology as contrived ignorance will be detailed by overviewing contrived ignorance’s use in the tobacco industry and classified military secrets. Next, by analyzing the principles of these exemplary formations of contrived ignorance, an archetype of contrived ignorance will be distilled. From this archetype, a test to identify instances of contrived ignorance in novel contexts will be formulated.

This test will then be used to examine recent legislative action taken against calls to expand education topics in United States public schools. Specifically, the test will be used to assess the question of whether state legislatures banning critical race theory from curricula is an example of contrived ignorance being utilized for nefarious purposes. Through the application of the test, I hope to show that much like the tobacco industry and classified military secrets (two exemplars which characterize the nature and purpose of agnotology) legislatures banning critical race theory from scholarly discussion in public schools is a modern-day imposition of contrived ignorance. Any legislation that operates primarily on the imposition of contrived ignorance deserves to be critically interrogated, if not opposed wholesale. This holds true both in this instance of critical race theory bans, and more generally to other forms of legislative action driven by contrived ignorance.


CRT, critical race theory, bans, ignorance, agnotology



Ebony McKeever



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