I recently finished reading Donald Rumsfeld’s memoir, Known and Unknown. Whether you love or hate him, or just don’t care, I highly recommend it for a very interesting look into recent history, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He discusses his choice of title at length and I find these philosophical ideas incredibly helpful in looking at problems and issues of all kinds. They especially apply to the debate over GMOs and demonstrate the dangers of rushing madly into areas we really don’t understand. Even more important, it demonstrates the dangers of rushing madly into technologies like genetic engineering when we think we know, but really have no clue, what we are getting into.
From the book’s Author’s Note:
Reports that say something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me because 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 know] we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tends to be the difficult one.
In regard to GMOs, I would apply these profound thoughts as follows. There are a few known knowns, but many of the known knowns about GMOs are actually known unknowns, we are simply fooling ourselves by claiming facts that aren’t adequately proven in many cases. There are many acknowledged known unknowns and countless more unknown unknowns. All three of these scare the hell out of me regarding GMOs because the entire technology base is being pushed by people with blinders on and with a paticular purpose to make unknown knowns and unknown unknowns into known knowns while disregarding the rigiorous science to actually do these things.