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I need a word that describes someone who advocates for harmful laws or policies; it would describe someone who writes policy without listening to the people it affects or someone who doesn't pay attention to actual effects of that policy, kind of like politically or socially tone-deaf. They might continue to stand behind that policy even after it was proven to be ineffective or harmful.

It would be like ignorant or deluded, but specifically regarding knowledge of people's situations or societal problems and solutions. A word to describe the actions of that person would be helpful as well. As an example:

It was very __ of the senator to vote for the harmful bill that would require every homeless person to own a car.

The word wouldn't refer to someone doing this knowingly and maliciously, but I would like it to have a negative connotation.

Thank you!

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12 Answers 12

17

out of touch - in a state of not knowing what is happening, how certain people feel, etc.

Honestly I struggled thinking of a term for this, but struck on googling the "It's one banana, what could it cost? $10?" moment.

Specifically, I think of this as out of touch with reality, which is why synonyms like detached don't quite have the same meaning.

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  • 1
    In France we have several examples of quotes very similar to this $10 banana moment... Except those are not from TV shows, but from actual real-life politicians in live interviews. The minister for public transportation got the price of a subway ticket wrong by a factor of 3; and the government's spokesperson got the price of a chocolat croissant wrong by a factor of 10.
    – Stef
    May 31, 2023 at 13:32
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    I think detached is the best answer so far.
    – Tony Ennis
    Jun 1, 2023 at 18:32
  • Ignorantly out of touch is the best phrase response so far. Jun 1, 2023 at 20:07
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    @TonyEnnis - Reality-detached maybe, and attachment may go back to similar roots as in touch. Probably why both came to mind. But I think of detached by itself as not being emotionally involved; detached from others' feelings-- not from reality. More connotation that the others are specific people, not the entire nation. Close though.
    – stevesliva
    Jun 1, 2023 at 22:21
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merriam-webster.com

Tone-deaf

1: relatively insensitive to differences in musical pitch

2: having or showing an obtuse insensitivity or lack of perception particularly in matters of public sentiment, opinion, or taste

  • The White House long ago concluded that she is aloof and politically tone-deaf …—Michael Duffy
  • At the time, I wondered how such an intelligent man could be so tone-deaf to the harsh realities facing the nation …— Peniel E. Joseph
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Myopic, As defined by Merriam-Webster

2 : lacking in foresight or discernment : narrow in perspective and without concern for broader implications

Also by The Britannica

2 : disapproving : only thinking or caring about things that are happening now or that relate to a particular group rather than things that are in the future or that relate to many people

  • myopic politicians
  • He has criticized the government's myopic [=shortsighted] diplomatic policies.
  • a myopic view of the world

An example used here in The Guardian (2016):

This is where it was presumed anti-globalisation protest was located. The left could interact with this element. It recognised it. Now? It is tone deaf and increasingly myopic.

Can also be modified for flavor with words like stubbornly, selfishly, or harmfully.

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A person who does not take in the whole picture is blinkered:

blinkered [adjective]:

A blinkered person is unable or unwilling to understand other people's beliefs, and blinkered opinions or ways of behaving show someone is unable or unwilling to understand other people:

  • He's very blinkered in his outlook. ...
  • It has to be, so that its lessons and recommendations sink in to the dim or blinkered consciousness of politicians with the authority to make a material response.
  • He has not been constricted by the language of the civil service and has not taken a narrow and blinkered view. [Hansard]

Someone who consistently refuses to listen to reasonable attempts to get them to change their mind is hidebound.

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    Good, but it lacks impact and effectiveness. Nobody is going to know what I mean if I say "It was very blinkered of the senator to vote for ...". Nobody is going to know what I mean. Tone deaf feels more intuitively understandable. May 31, 2023 at 11:38
  • @TheEvilMetal They aren't synonyms though. Consider the quote below, "It is tone deaf and increasingly myopic". Myopic and blinkered are more synonyms. I think blinkered suggests, the senator doesn't perceive the information or, maybe, chooses not to accept it; tone deaf means, they could perceive it, but didn't understand the implications. (In OP example, the information being, homeless people are generally very poor.) May 31, 2023 at 16:24
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You may consider thoughtless or its synonyms like inconsiderate, uncaring, unmindful & insensitive.

It was very thoughtless of the senator to vote for the harmful bill that would require every homeless person to own a car.

Google dictionary:

thoughtless adjective

  1. (of a person or their behaviour) not showing consideration for the needs of other people.
    "it was thoughtless of her to have rushed out and not said where she would be going"

  2. without consideration of the possible consequences.
    "to think a few minutes of thoughtless pleasure could end in this"

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Someone who just doesn't understand either the situation or the possible impact of their proposal could just be oblivious:

lacking active conscious knowledge or awareness

If the senator is simply ignorant of things in general, they might be oblivious. Or, they could know some things (like the politics of getting a law passed) but be ignorant of life outside their sphere - if they were competent within their own realm but simply had no operational knowledge relevant to the actual effects of the law they might be siloed:

kept in isolation in a way that hinders communication and cooperation

Other words would be more specific as to why the senator is ignorant. Are they perhaps highly-educated, and concerned with only theoretical concerns rather than practical effects? Then they might be ivory tower or simply impractically idealistic:

a secluded place that affords the means of treating practical issues with an impractical often escapist attitude. Especially: a place of learning

Or are they unaware of the concerns of unhoused people because they consider themselves socially better? If so, the senator might be aloof:

removed or distant either physically or emotionally

Or because they are wealthy? They might be plutocratic:

powerful because of being rich

Or, if the senator is unconcerned about the effects of the law on the plebeians because he is both wealthy and of high social class, he could be patrician:

a person of high birth : ARISTOCRAT, a person of breeding and cultivation

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I would suggest Callous

2 Callous

a: feeling no emotion

b: feeling or showing no sympathy for others

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/callous

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  • I was thinking "callously indifferent" or "callous indifference".
    – workerjoe
    Jun 1, 2023 at 17:20
  • Callous is good.
    – Tony Ennis
    Jun 1, 2023 at 18:33
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    The question is about people who are unaware of the likely results of policies. To me, callous suggests someone who is aware that the policies will cause great suffering, but doesn't care.
    – Beta
    Jun 2, 2023 at 2:56
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I'd call someone like this a "troglodyte". A person who is a troglodyte, could be described as "troglodytic".

This means "a stupid person who has old-fashioned views or habits, or behaves in a way that is not considered socially acceptable" [1].

The example given in the cited definition is actually in the context of politics too: "He urged the minister not to be slowed down in any way by the reactionary troglodyte forces in all parties who opposed reform."

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  • I'll add that "dinosaur" is another option with essentially the same connotation, although it doesn't fit particularly well in the example sentence as an adjective - it would be more commonly used as a noun and might require a little more context to be readily understood. Jun 1, 2023 at 17:56
  • @NuclearHoagie - Dinosauric is the adjective you're looking for I do believe Jun 1, 2023 at 18:27
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If it's an adjective you're looking for, perhaps try self-serving:

Serving one's own interests often in disregard of the truth or the interests of others.

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    This doesn't have the 'ignorant' bit of what the OP is looking for. May 30, 2023 at 23:35
  • There's only so much one word or phrase can do. Two or more are probably needed to convey everything intended, like "self-serving, blinkered, and uninformed …"
    – ralph.m
    May 30, 2023 at 23:41
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    @Heartspring If the person in question is remaining ignorant because it's comfortable, I'd say "self-serving" is at least part of the description.
    – user888379
    May 31, 2023 at 0:14
  • Could he not be "ignorant and self serving"? self-serving does not preclude ignorance, but specifically describes them being focused on their own agenda. May 31, 2023 at 9:20
  • @ChrisSchaller — Certainly. Although one could argue it's inherently ignorant to be self-serving … although that pretty much means we're all ignorant. :p
    – ralph.m
    May 31, 2023 at 9:32
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Traditionally, English judges have required to be brought up to date with real life when everyday trivialities are mentioned in Court.

'Eastenders is a popular soap opera on television, m'Lud.'

But I cannot think of a single word that conveys such cloistered un-involvement.

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I would change the sentence a little by adding an extra adverb, like this:

The Senator came off as pharisaic when he voted self-righteously for the bill that would require every homeless person to own a car.

pharisaic:

(lowercase) practicing or advocating strict observance of external forms and ceremonies of religion or conduct without regard to the spirit; hypocritical.

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/pharisaic

self-righteous:

confident of one's own righteousness, especially when smugly moralistic and intolerant of the opinions and behavior of others.

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/self-righteous

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disingenuous
adjective

lacking in candor
also : giving a false appearance of simple frankness : CALCULATING

disingenuously adverb

Merriam Webster

But the guy might be outright malicious.

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    Disingenuous generally means they're lying, not making a mistake due to ignorance.
    – Barmar
    May 30, 2023 at 20:47
  • @Barmar my friend, I know that. But it seem her description depicts some duplicitous and deceitful. Maybe she's needs a push for something stronger? :) Deluded, she said.
    – Lambie
    May 30, 2023 at 20:53
  • I think the author of the bill might be duplicitous and deceitful. But the senator in this sentence has apparently been duped and is just going along because he doesn't realize how harmful it is. At least, that's how I interpret the OP.
    – Barmar
    May 30, 2023 at 20:55
  • @Barmar There is only the senator in that question.
    – Lambie
    May 30, 2023 at 20:57
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    @Conrado Thanks.
    – Lambie
    Jun 1, 2023 at 23:09

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