Biased recognition of problems
Problems are selected by humanity, whether in whole communities or within specialized groups (science, religion, technology, politics, education), in accordance with an editing process that excludes some kinds of issue because of their societal implications. Although those problems threatening the central values of the group are recognized by it as meriting attention, no attention is given to problems which are handled as part of the routine procedures of the institutions. More significantly, problems are ignored by scientific and political institutions when any recognition of them would call for such a radical shift in perspective that, in addition to threatening their most cherished values, would actually deconstruct the institutions based upon them.
The effects of structural forgetfulness have been noted in the relationship between genealogical structures in tribal societies and the nature of the political and judicial institutions they permit. It has been used to account for the socially constructed ignorance of historical processes and for the geographical constraints on political action in certain western societies. It has been argued that it is significant to understanding the establishment of boundaries between scientific disciplines.