|“There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know.
There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know.
But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.”
|—United States Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld|
“Nobody knows anything.”
–William Goldman, screenwriter, talking about Hollywood
I was once doing an icebreaker in a group and we were asked to come up with our favorite quote. I supplied the one from Donald Rumsfeld and more recently came upon the one from William Goldman (author of the Princess Bride, among other stories). They encapsulate a lot of what I plan and hope to explore in this blog: how even in the midst of this vast sea of data we still know so little, and also to see ways in which we can at least try to turn the unknown unknowns into the known unknowns. And also to explore the unarticulated fourth class of things: the unknown knowns, or those things we choose right now not to acknowledge, even though maybe we know better.
I plan to post 2-3 times a week, with mostly shorter pieces but occasional longer pieces exploring an idea or projection in greater depth.
Over the past 20+ years I’ve worked as a researcher in the biological sciences, following a path not unlike that of a chemosensing, mobile bacterium, sensing a direction, then spinning my flagella to orient myself and hopefully move in the right direction, only to stop and check out the environment again. I went from a small liberal arts college (Carleton), to graduate school at Berkeley, postdocs at the University of Washington, and then positions in transcriptomics and genomics at the UW, Merck and Novo Nordisk.