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Nothing is Certain - Of This I am Sure

Posted May 13 2008 12:33pm

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 do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” - Donald Rumsfeld

We live in a time where we can pretend we know things. Before there was science, Mankind had to have some humility toward the Universe and accept that much of the world was unknowable.

Then we invented science, and it explained many things quite well - and gave us this whiz-bang world of technological marvels and medical miracles where we can reattach severed limbs and transplant hearts.

Problem is: we are confused about the limits of science to explain things, and many people - including scientists themselves - think they know things that in fact, they haven’t a clue about.

Put aside our ego-centric world view and realize the Universe and everything in it was not created for us to understand - the fact that we do understand isolated little bits - somewhat - is remarkable, but it also lead us astray into the belief that it all can be understood.

It can’t.

What can we understand? We are great at mechanics - the engineering world can apply known principles and create computers, reattach limbs, build skyscrapers and bridges - and be pretty good at it. There’s some rules for dealing with the unknown - in engineering, for example, if you are building a bridge to carry a load of 1000 tons, you might double that just to be sure.

Things begin to get murky as we get more into the softer sciences. Our own biochemical processes are a great example.

When you really truly understand how little can be known, the first reaction is to despair - what am I to believe in?

But if you push through this, you come to the realization that the only thing to believe in comes from inside you.

This can be useful in all aspects of your life, but in low carb, it is applied through your experiences. Is low carb healthy for you? Doesn’t matter what the research says - it might or might not be true - or it might not be true for you. How do you feel? How is your bloodwork? Losing weight?

I mention this because I read a scientific paper titled: Why Most Published Research Findings Are False by John P. A. Ioannidis. It’s a tough read - you might want to check out this link or this link for some translations of what he’s talking about.

We low carbers might feel a bit alone in the world, but maybe it’s because we know we have to question everything - we have to think, and thinking is something most people avoid as much as possible.

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