Unknown Unknowns

The following phrase is taken from then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s response to a question during a news briefing on February 12, 2002.

“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 that 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’ 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 tend to be the difficult ones.”

To this, psychoanalytic philosopher Slavoj Žižek added, “that beyond these three categories there is a fourth, the unknown known, that which we intentionally refuse to acknowledge that we know.”

There is a lot for investors to ponder in the above.

All comments and suggestions are welcome.

Walter J. Kirchberger, CFA®