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.
In her latest book, Heffernan argues that the biggest threats and dangers we face are the ones we don't see - not because they're secret or invisible, but because we're willfully blind. She examines the phenomenon and traces its imprint in our private and working lives, and within governments and organizations, and asks: What makes us prefer ignorance? What are we so afraid of? Why do some people see more than others? And how can we change? Examining examples of willful blindness in the Catholic Church, the SEC, Nazi Germany, Bernard Madoff's investors, BP's safety record, the military in Afghanistan and the dog-eat-dog world of subprime mortgage lenders, the book demonstrates how failing to see - or admit to ourselves or our colleagues - the issues and problems in plain sight can ruin private lives and bring down corporations. The book explores how willful blindness develops and then goes on to outline some of the mechanisms, structures and strategies that institutions and individuals can use to combat it. In its wide use of psychological research and examples from history, the book has been compared to work by Malcolm Gladwell and Nicholas Taleb.