POLITICAL observations & opinions

* A World in Denial of What It Knows … Is it because there are legitimate differences of opinion, and the truth really wasn’t quite so obvious? … Or is it because people who choose not to know have an agenda which is served by not knowing?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 2, 2012


what we chose not to know about Iraq


Geoffrey Wheatcroft writes in the NYT (12/31/11) …

  • Unknown knowns were things that were not at all inevitable, and were easily knowable, or indeed known, but which people chose to “unknow.”
  • Unknown knowns were everywhere, from Wall Street to Brussels, from the Pentagon to Penn State.
    • What kind of willful obtusity ever suggested that subprime mortgages were a good idea? An intelligent child would have known that there is no good time to lend money to people who obviously can never repay it.
    • Or recall how we were taken into the Iraq war. Those of us who opposed the war may be asked to this day whether we knew what weaponry Iraq possessed, to which the answer is that of course we didn’t. But that was the wrong question. It should have been not “what weaponry does Saddam Hussein possess?” but “Is Saddam Hussein’s weaponry, whatever it may be, the real reason for the war, or is it a pretext confected after a decision for war had already been taken?” The answer to that was obvious and could have been known to all, but too many people chose to unknow it. Then there was another unknown known: the likely consequences of an invasion. President Jacques Chirac of France said it was foolish to think of creating a modern democracy in an artificial country with a divided society like Iraq.
    • For years, Bernard L. Madoff’s investors gratefully and unquestioningly accepted returns that were strictly incredible. Loud warning voices sounded. Harry Markopolos spent nearly nine years repeatedly trying to explain to the Securities and Exchange Commission that these figures were not merely incredible but mathematically impossible. And still the S.E.C. chose to unknow it.
    • In a very different kind of scandal, not everyone at Penn State, and certainly not every fan, knew what had happened in the showers. But quite enough was known by people who could have acted. They chose instead to unknow.
    • And so to another classic unknown known, the euro. If truth be told (but it so rarely is!), the euro cannot work and could never have worked. That is, a single currency embracing countries as diverse in social culture, productivity, work practices and taxation as Germany and Greece, or the Netherlands and Portugal, is economically impossible without much closer fiscal and financial union — which is politically impossible. Anyone could have known that at the time the euro was introduced, but for the rulers of the European Union it was their very own unknown known.

read the entire article at … http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/01/opinion/sunday/unknown-knowns-avoiding-the-truth.html?scp=1&sq=a%20world%20in%20denial&st=cse



  • So we consistently choose to deny what is the obvious truth. The real question is why?
  • Is it because there are legitimate differences of opinion, and the truth really wasn’t quite so obvious?
  • Or is it because people who choose not to know have an agenda which is served by not knowing?



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