margaret heffernan

margaret heffernan

intro’d to Margaret via this talk (shared by Luba):

The dangers of “willful blindness”

someone would have told us

willful blindness – info that you could know but you have chosen not to know

can see it in the banks, in abuse, in the lead up to the iraq war

85% of people know there’s a problem at work.. but won’t say anything…. that’s a lot of silence

this is a human problem…. we’re all under certain circumstances.. willfully blind

some it’s out of fear, some – the people who do see – are whistleblowers.. and we know what happens to them, ie: they are all crazy

what i’ve found, the reason the insist on seeing is they care so much about the institution.. they want to keep it going..

ignorance is bliss.. but you can’t put up with things like this..

freedom doesn’t exist unless you use it.. what whistleblowers do is use the freedom

the naysayers will make my argument stronger..

a determination not to be blind and not to be silent

the real important thing about Gayla – is she is ordinary.. she had freedom.. and she was ready to use it



tedwomen 2015: on pecking order


when we start talking this way – we stop talking about stars…

energy ness

looking for what happens between people

rivalry (competition) has to be replaced with human connection

no stars.. we need everybody…


via Maria

everything outside warm/safe circle is our blind spot. as we see less we feel more ..certainty. –


The most harrowing example of this blindness, Heffernan points out, is in families damaged by child abuse. Some 700,000 cases of child abuse are reported each year — and this is one of the most underreported forms of violence in society for a variety of reasons — which makes it impossible to imagine how so many families can be blind to the tragedy within.


The most crucial learning that has emerged from this science is the recognition that we continue to change right up to the moment we die. Every experience and encounter, each piece of new learning, each relationship or reassessment alters how our minds work….our capacity for change can never be underestimated.


We make ourselves powerless when we choose not to know. But we give ourselves hope when we insist on looking. The very fact that willful blindness is willed, that it is a product of a rich mix of experience, knowledge, thinking, neurons, and neuroses, is what gives us the capacity to change it. Like Lear, we can learn to see better, not just because our brain changes but because we do. As all wisdom does, seeing starts with simple questions: What could I know, should I know, that I don’t know? Just what am I missing here?


find/follow Margaret:

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her site:

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Margaret Heffernan (born 1955) is an international businesswoman and writer. She was born in Texas, raised in the Netherlands, educated at Cambridge University and settled in the UK near the city of Bath.

She is the author of four books: The Naked Truth: … How She Does It .. Willful Blindness:…A Bigger Prize: Why Competition isn’t Everything and How We Do Better. … Heffernan’s voice is primarily one of critical challenge, taking little at face value and regularly questioning received wisdom.


pluralistic ignorance ness



Ewan McIntosh and Margaret Heffernan

Ewan McIntosh (@ewanmcintosh) tweeted at 1:35 AM on Fri, Mar 10, 2017:
Is jargon actually a loud way to create organisational silence @M_Heffernan? Makes me think of @ottoscharmer1’s levels of listening #sgis17

jargon to create ps in the open… perhaps org silence..?