Many of us would love to know what lottery numbers to play or whom to bet on for the Super Bowl. But do we want information on our date of death, whether we will fall seriously or terminally ill, or if our partner/spouse will die before or after us? Well, sometimes it would be nice to know the future. Like when you’re in the running for a job, or perhaps if you are going to like the job. However, most people, according to two researchers in Europe, claim that almost 9 out of 10 people did not want to know about upcoming bad events, including the cause of their deaths, or the death of a partner/spouse. It seems the type of question plays a large role in people’s responses. Forty to 70 percent did not want to know about good events, whether it was the outcome of a sports game or what kind of presents they would get for the holidays. According to the American Psychological Association, only 1 percent of people want to know the future. When asked about different scenarios, the largest majority wanted to know during pregnancy whether it was a boy or girl. But this issue has already been resolved with sonograms (although, on occasion, the doctors have called it wrong).
“Deliberate ignorance” is more widespread than people assume. It is not self-deception or moral weakness, but a way to stay positive about the future and avoid regret when learning about bad news. Most people did not want to know the time or cause or their own death and the death of a partner was even less desirable to know about. That’s because it would create two periods of emotional pain – the period of regret from knowing death was imminent for yourself or a partner, and the anticipated grief you would feel afterward, from which the dead are spared.
I suppose that’s where the phrase “Ignorance is Bliss” comes in. If we don’t know about it, it either won’t happen, it won’t hurt us, or it will go away. We can’t worry about it, we don’t think constantly about ways to change it, and we can focus on the good stuff and enjoy it. But, sometimes it does catch up with us. There’s a difference between knowing or not knowing about the circumstances of one’s death and being ignorant about the future consequences of our actions when making a decision. It is the difference between making good decisions and decisions that can hurt us in the future. For example, making the decision to give up smoking or alcohol is a decision that could eliminate knowing what our cause of death could me. Starting to smoke or drink alcohol gives us an indication of what our cause of death will be. It’s a subtle difference, but it could be a decision of life or death.
What do you think?
Source: Star-Ledger, based on an article by Kathleen O’Brien