Investigations can be costly. They can assign blame. They can uncover things that might give ammunition for lawsuits.
They may delve deep into assumptions made when a system was put together, which may be outdated or expensive to change.
Some technology watchers, such as Robert Proctor, a Stanford professor who specializes in the history of science and technology, said there is increasing resistance to investigating, even as instances that warrant digging seem to be climbing.
"There is a lot more protectiveness than there used to be," said Proctor, who is shaping a new field, the study of ignorance, which he calls agnotology. "It is often safer not to know."
—"What you don't want to know can hurt," Grand Rapids Press, August 27, 2006
—Londa Schiebinger, "Feminist History of Colonial Science," Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, January 31, 2004
Mr. Proctor, who describes his specialty as "agnotology, the study of ignorance," argues that the tobacco industry has tried to give the impression that the hazards of cigarette smoking are still an open question even when the scientific evidence is indisputable. "The tobacco industry is famous for having seen itself as a manufacturer of two different products," he said, "tobacco and doubt."
—Patricia Cohen, "History for Hire In Industry Lawsuits," The New York Times, June 14, 2003