General information

Course type AMUPIE
Module title Introduction to Agnotology: social and political produced ignorance.
Language English
Module lecturer prof. UAM dr hab. Andrzej Wojciech Nowak
Lecturer's email
Lecturer position Professor
Faculty Faculty of Philosophy
Semester 2024/2025 (winter)
Duration 30
USOS code 24-AGN-OOO


  1. Introduction to agnotology 
    Definition and history of agnotology. 
    Ignorance as an area of study. 
  2. Mechanisms of ignorance
    Disinformation and manipulation.
    Censorship and suppression of information. 
    Social causes of ignorance.
  3. Ignorance in politics and the media.
    Political use of ignorance.
    The role of the media in spreading disinformation.
  4. Agnotology and science
    Ignorance in scientific research.
    Misuses of science in political and social production of ignorance. 
  5. Agnotology and education
    The role of education in countering ignorance.
    Strategies for teaching critical thinking.

Module aim (aims)

The aim of the course is a situated analysis of the tactics used to produce ignorance and doubt as elements of the social production of ignorance. The course is part of a stream of research called agnotology, or the study of ignorance. The goal of the course is to provide theoretical and practical tools for recognizing the tactics and practices involved in the production of ignorance. This will be done after recognizing, in selected problem areas, the specificities of our context, local scientific-social-political controversies, and the network of actors (social, political) associated with them. For the purpose of the course, thematic areas of the production of ignorance and doubt will be identified, taking into account local key contexts such as the war in Ukraine and, in this context, the impact of Russian propaganda. In addition, the classic areas of the production of ignorance and doubt will be addressed: vaccination or climate change. 

Aims of the course: 

1. Understanding of the concept of agnotology and its importance in social research.
2. Analysis of the sources and mechanisms of ignorance.
3. Studying of the impact of ignorance on society, politics, and science.
4. Development of critical thinking and analytical skills.


Pre-requisites in terms of knowledge, skills and social competences (where relevant)


Reading list

  1. Croissant, J. L. (2014). Agnotology: Ignorance and absence or towards a sociology of things that aren’t there. Social Epistemology, 28, 425.
  2. Drążkiewicz E. 2021 “Rights, Responsibilities, And Public Health Realities: Vaccine Conspiracies And Covid-19”; in Viral Loads: Coronavirus, Inequality and an Anthropology of the Future, ed. Nancy Burke, Ayo Wahlberg, and Lenore Manderson, London, UCL Press (together with Elisa Sobo).
  3. Drążkiewicz E. 2021 “Taking vaccine regret and hesitancy seriously. The role of truth, conspiracy theories, gender relations and trust in the HPV immunisation programmes in Ireland”. Journal of Cultural Research, vol. 25:1. pp: 69-87. Drążkiewicz E. Journal for Cultural Research 25. (1)/2021
  4. High, C., Kelly, A. H., & Mair, J. (Eds.). (2012). The anthropology of ignorance: An ethnographic approach. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  5. Koronska, M. Lompe, R. Rogers. (2022) Mapping controversial narratives related to the Russo-Ukrainian War in Polish-language social media, Digital Methods Initiative, (13.06.2022).
  6. Kata, A. (2010): A postmodern Pandora's box: anti-vaccination misinformation on the Internet. w: Vaccine 28 (7), s. 1709–1716.
  7. Klein, Naomi, Doppelgänger, 2023. 
  8. Mair, J., Kelly, A. H., & High, C. The anthropology of ignorance: An ethnographic approach (2012). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  9. Mooney, Ch.; Kirshenbaum, Sh. (2009): Unscientific America. How scientific illiteracy threatens our future. New York: Basic Books.
  10. Moore, W. E., & Tumin, M. M. (1949). Some social functions of ignorance. American Sociological Review, 14, 787795.
  11. Naeem, Salman Bin; Bhatti, Rubina (2020): The Covid-19 'infodemic': a new front for information professionals. w: Health Information and Libraries Journal 37 (3), s. 233–239.
  12. Offit, Paul A. (2011): Deadly choices: How the anti-vaccine movement threatens us all: Basic Books.
  13. Oreskes, N., & Conway, E. M. (2010). Merchants of doubt: How a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming. New York: Bloomsbury.
  14. Oreskes, Naomi; Conway, Erik M. (2010): Defeating the merchants of doubt. w: Nature 465 (7299), s. 686–687. DOI: 10.1038/465686a.
  15. Proctor, R. N. (1995). Cancer wars: How politics shapes what we know and don’t know about cancer. New York: Basic Books.
  16. Proctor, R. N., & Schiebinger, L. (Eds.). (2008). Agnotology: The making and unmaking of ignorance. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  17. Ravetz, J. R. (1993). The sin of science: Ignorance of ignorance. Science Communication, 15, 157165. doi:
  18. Rescher, N. (2009). Ignorance: On the wider implications of deficient knowledge. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.
  19. Smithson, M. (1989). Ignorance and uncertainty: Emerging paradigms. New York: Springer. Tapp, K. P. (2000). Distinguishing non-knowledge. The Canadian Journal of Sociology, 25, 225– 238.