msb ~065 On unknown knowns

On unknown knowns  

climate change, a timeline for realising unknown knowns
realising unknown knowns

An unexpected pleasure to encounter my favourite philosopher on BBC’s Museum of Curiosity! Sadly, Donald Rumsfeld wasn’t a donation to the museum but Lord Butler, author of the (in)famous Butler Inquiry into Britain’s dodgy intelligence case for the Iraq War was a contributor, so Rumsfeld’s famous 2002 ducking of the absence of Iraq’s WMD or terrorist links got an airing. “As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know … It is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.”

That’s not the ineptly scrambled grammar it was made out to be. But ironically what the US Defense Secretary failed to elaborate was the all-important missing fourth quadrant of that grid: ‘unknown knowns’, the things we know, deep down, but cannot acknowledge because it’s too harmful to our worldview. ‘No WMD here’, perhaps. Also, deniable realities of and responsibilities for global climate catastrophe, a true Weapon of Mass Destruction. A little knowledge, they say, is a dangerous thing…

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