Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Unforeseen contingency defined

FAQ: "What is this 'unforeseen contingency?'"

FGA: "Unforeseen contingency" is a term used by economists in the literatures on contracting and modeling knowledge. It is the same phenomenon that Austrian school economists call "sheer ignorance."

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has given one of the clearer popular definitions of this: "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."

More precisely, if something is an unforeseen contingency for you, then you do not know that thing. And you also do not know that you don't know it. And you don't know that you don't know that you don't know it. And you don't know that you don't know that you don't know that you...

(After arbitrarily many iterations we return to our narrative) In other words, you are *unaware* of that thing. Its possibility is an unforeseen contingency for you.

The primary theme of this blog is that the universe is largely made up of what are, for us humans, unforeseen contingencies. Luckily, we have various means (namely our senses, and reason) of discovering a few of these possibilities. Unfortunately we are at least as capable of fabricating false possibilities and deceiving ourselves, primarily through such inventions as religions, ideologies, and cultures.

The purpose of this blog is to remove some sheer ignorance, to bring some otherwise unforeseen contingencies to light, and to dispel some of the inventions humans have developed to deceive themselves.

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