Traditionally, when you hear the term “head in the sand”, it means that someone isn’t paying attention to what is going on around them. It harkens to one being uninformed.

When you think “head in the sand” what’s your first thought?

Ok- so hopefully you have something in your head. Now I’m going to present my side of the story.

I think sometimes people can become so involved in something, they have their head in the sand because they are unable to see any other viewpoint but their own. These people are super informed- so informed as to become a detriment. They see things the way they want to see them, but perhaps not as they truly are. They narrowly focus in on one side, or one part of an argument and forget that there are multiple ways to look at something…

There are people so convinced that they are “right” that they put their head in the sand to anything that could prove them “wrong”. They simply refuse to learn the other side of the story.

That’s what’s great about science- for every theory, there are a dozen scientists trying to disprove the theory. The beauty of science is that it’s continually evolving. True scientists can’t keep their heads in the sand- they have to just keep working and trying and experimenting…

Being truly informed means that you keep searching and questioning and listening to all the theories…

The people that keep asking questions and listening to the alternate theories are the only ones who don’t have their head in the sand…

Those unwilling to listen or acknowledge have their heads in the sand…no matter how well informed they think they are.

44 thoughts on “Head in the Sand

  1. I had a friend I used to get together for coffee with who was on the opposite end of the spectrum with just about every issue you could think of….what I loved about our interactions was it led to some very robust conversations. Under girding our times together were three things..we both loved coffee, local history, and mutual respect.. never felt like he was talking down to me, nor was dismissive.

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    1. That’s a wonderful thing. If someone isn’t listening it’s not a conversation, it’s a monologue. That being said, discuss with me, but don’t make your intent to change my mind or to win. Let me understand your point of view, but then accept mine might be different

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      1. You know what I’ve done before when I think someone isn’t really listening is I throw in an off the wall sentence, like The red cow was blue. Or, put the word naked on the end of the sentence. I’m surprised when they don’t even flinch or miss a beat. Especially with a word like NAKED.

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  2. People who always want to be right will definitely tune out anything you say against their points. Well “informed” people are similar to teenagers. If you’re no saying what they want to hear then he conversation is over!

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  3. A good description of Shoshin, the Zen Buddhist concept of “beginner’s mind.” When we practice Shoshin, we approach things with few assumptions, an attitude of openness, and a willingness to see and consider new perspectives. A good way to live….

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  4. Hubby and daughter had a row yesterday because he is so stubborn with his opinion and gets angry when we have opposing viewpoints. 😦 I tried to stay out of the fray because it wasn’t my conversation but it hurts to hear them going at it.

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    1. Do you know an ostrich doesn’t put its head in the sand to avoid things? It’s to protect the eggs from predators. That’s the one thing I learned while writing this post

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  5. I don’t understand “head in the sand” as meaning not paying attention, I’ve always taken it as an active avoidance policy, an action chosen to make one unable to hear. I guess it could be taken in a number of ways, but I’ve always understood it to be so someone doesn’t get to hear anything they don’t want to, because it may make them do or think something which is outside of their comfort zone.

    Interesting thing about ostriches and their eggs – I’d not heard that.

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    1. I did about 12 minutes of research, admittedly 8 of them looking at cute ostriches, and the original usage was in 1970 with the government had its head in the sand, which I took as not knowing what’s going on, but it’s totally up to interpretation

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  6. I’ve always thought of the “head in the sand” analogy as avoidance because it is their way or no way. Just like a little kid plugging his ears with his fingers and singing – what they can’t hear can’t be true, or real, or possible.

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    1. I’m rethinking it…the first known usage I saw was in 1970, with regards to the government having its head in the sand, which I took as not seeing things as they are…but I’m totally up for multiple interpretations

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  7. To me someone who has his or her head in the sand is a person who is either clueless about what is going on around them or who is hiding from what is going on around them. They prefer to not know. Those people do not want to know, don’t want to get involved, don’t want to learn the truth or any factual information. They prefer to stay uninformed. I never saw it as someone who only sees one point of view but as a person who closes his/her eyes to what’s right in front of him. The kind of person who can see someone being raped or mugged and walks right on by and ignores it. They pretend they didn’t see it didn’t happen. Unfortunately, those people are very dangerous in my estimation.

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    1. I’m switching up the definition. I see many dangerous people who think they know what’s best. Like the people at UW who decided that “see” is a problematic word. I think they have their head in the sand


  8. Completely agree. “The people that keep asking questions and listening to the alternate theories are the only ones who don’t have their head in the sand…” Openness and a willingness to always learn is wise. Great post!

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  9. Totally agree with your definition ! I don’t mind people disagreeing with me ,its when the self righteous, will refuse to hear any other side attitude hits that I have to end the conversation, can’t handle it. Plus what is the point of even discussing something when one has that attitude?

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  10. I’ve seen it happen when you would prefer to ignore a diagnosis, or seek medical attention. Or like the Ostrich, maybe we’re protecting one of our chicks that was born with a defect? Lots of reasons why we humans bury our pain in the sand. xxoo, C

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