Unknown Unknowns

Wedding and Honeymoon Pictures 470That which we do not know that we do not know

All we know is still infinitely less than all that remains unknown. William Harvey

There are things known and things unknown and in between are the doors. Jim Morrison

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. H. P. Lovecraft

  Many of us have probably said something like “the older I get the more I realize there is much more that I have yet to learn”. It is the young, naïve, or vain that thinks they have cornered the market on acquiring knowledge. We all continue to have much to learn. An appropriate phrase may be “the more you think you know the more you are sadly mistaken.”

Mankind has so much more to learn. “The Knowledge Doubling Curve” attempts to measure how often we double the amount of knowledge and understanding mankind has acquired up to a given point in time or in history as compared to how long it takes to double it again. The time it takes keeps getting faster. This means all that we know will keep getting doubled faster and faster. Much of this is now due to the increasing power and usage of computers. The concept of “Unknown Unknowns” recognizes there are vast multitudes of things we do not even know that we do not know. All that “we do not know we do not know” falls into unknown unknowns.

In the next ten years, we may look back and be amazed at leaps and advancements that have occurred. Who is to say there will not be “new” huge advances equaling or surpassing the magnitude of such things as “the earth being round”, gravity, germs, flight, electricity, atoms, computers, and so on. “Paradigm shifts” and “quantum leaps” are phrases indicating gigantic leaps that are possible because of newfound knowledge and understanding. It is likely more unknowns than “present knowns” continue to remain. We should never get too “cocky” or “conceited”. We should be humbled by our remaining enormous lack of knowledge. There is much to learn.

The more we think we know, the more conceited and arrogant we tend to become and the more likely we will be rudely awakened and find ourselves embarrassed and on our rear ends. Those thinking they “know it all” are so sadly mistaken. Those trying to “lord it over” others, expecting to be held in high esteem and in awe are very foolish. Along with increased knowledge and wisdom should come ever increasing humility. The truly wise know their knowledge is limited. We may never actually ever get to the point where there are more knowns than there are unknown unknowns. This concept is very humbling in itself.

Challenge: Humility is a very good trait. An old adage says that the bigger you are the farther you have to fall. No one likes a braggart, a “know it all”, a conceited or braggadocios person. Always be the best person you can be. Never try to make someone feel “little” or inadequate because of some advantage you may have over them. You may be more knowledgeable than some, there are always many that are much smarter and wiser than you.

Wisdom: There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know. Donald Rumsfeld


The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. Isaiah 32:17

But seek his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 5:33

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5

A good attitude is one that includes humility. The more we grow and the more we know, the more we should be humbled by all we do not know. The more we grow and know, we should become aware we were created and designed by God. We are intended to have a personal and interactive relationship with Him. The wisest and most important thing we can do is to allow God to empower and equip us to be the person we were designed to be.

Prayer: Help me to overcome my wayward ways and to seek the life and be the person You created me for.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s