“Reports that say that 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 do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” — “Fooot in Mouth” winner US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld —Donald Rumsfeld ‘honoured’ for confusing comments (Plain English Campaign)
When I first read the “unknown unknowns” statement, I thought it was definitely too confusing for a sound bite, but important in that it demonstrates that the known and the unknown are much more complex than a “memorize what the teacher says and spit it back on the quiz” education leads us to believe. Rumsfeld wasn’t babbling or struggling with the language. Granted, he could have probably made his point better with a venn diagram.