When Donald Rumsfeld was pondering evidence to support the invasion of Iraq in 2002, he famously came up with three different kinds of ‘knowing’:
- known knowns: things we are sure that we know.
- known unknowns: things we are aware that we don’t know.
- unknown unknowns: things we don't even suspect. (Rumsfeld thought there was little evidence regarding whether or not Iraq had weapons of mass destruction)
But Ramsfild left out
- unknown knowns: facts we refuse to acknowledge that we know
In this last category would come facts like:
- The US arms industry and military complex exerts a tremendous pressure on any decision about going to war
- Military intervention very often has the opposite effect to that intended (eg mobilising opinion against the aggressor)
We are often clever but seldom wise.
Wisdom is slow. It is a virtue of age - unless overwhelmed by senility.
Were we a genetic mistake?
Could we build a wise machine?
How can put we put a man on the moon but still behave like apes?