The Current Normal – Coping with Covid – Unknown Unknowns

When Donald Rumsfeld, former U.S. Secretary of Defense 1975-77 and 2001-06 first made the statement below, way back when, I thought it was the dumbest thing I had ever heard…….what did it even mean?

“The message is that 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 don’t know we don’t know.”

As I reflect on the statement now, it is a perfect description of what we are going through with the current pandemic. I have heard so many politicians and lay people bemoan the fact that we are getting mixed messages from the doctors and scientists. How can we ever trust a thing they say?

The simple matter is that Covid 19 came in as an unknown. As it gathered steam and statistics were created, we had some known knowns, but still had some known unknowns. Despite serious progress being made and knowledge being gained, current evidence suggests that there are still many unknown unknowns (things that we don’t know we don’t know) about this disease.

The scientists and doctors are not necessarily lying or deliberately trying to mislead us, as the course of the pandemic progresses. They are simply following the science, doing what scientists do. Until they have the most up to date information, how can we expect them to tell us exactly what we need to do and be assured that these instructions will be adequate for the long term.

We all have to stop dissing the doctors and scientists when the instructions change. We need to stop listening to the internet and politicians who express opinions that are purely their own, based on a hunch or the metrics in their head, without any credible science to back it up.

As my readers know, my posts are based on personal experiences and photos. What in the name of Covid could have prompted this post?

Walking by the lake the other day, I could feel spray on my face. Where was it coming from? The aerating fountain in the lake was running and the wind was blowing from the NW towards us. When I Google measured the distance this spray had travelled, I found it was 137 meters (450 feet) away from where I was standing.

Look how far away the fountain is. We felt its spray from 450 feet away.
Fountain from same position, but on 50X 1200 mm zoom
On the opposite side of the fountain, we were safe, but when joggers and cyclists (breathing moistly) passed us, we always headed off the path toward the wind
This is your sneeze on drugs

Which takes me on to my next rant. I watch people in the news, invoking the Charter of Freedoms and Rights (Canada) or their Constitutional Rights (U.S.) to justify why they do not and will not ever wear a mask in stores or when social distancing is not possible and almost coming to blows when told they must. Why the attitude? Yes, you have rights, but only until they infringe on somebody else’s rights? Why do your rights trump mine? Yes I chose that word deliberately. If I wear a mask, I am protecting you. If you wear a mask, you are protecting me. Why can’t we all just do the right thing? If you sneeze and I am wearing a mask, I am not protected? Droplets could go into my eyes or pass through my mask.

When we were in Vancouver in March, a person without a mask ahead of us sneezed in bright morning sunlight. The halo of droplets spread out for about 5 meters (16 feet) around them. I thought that was the worst it could get, until….. I felt the spray from the fountain.

Do the right thing folks. It is the most selfless thing you can do. When there are no more unknown unknowns, perhaps we can get closer to normal, but not yet. Perhaps, Covid 19 is not the virus here, maybe we are and the Earth is trying to rid itself of the human virus

Stay well. Physically distance (Practice Safe Six, as they say). Wear a mask when you can’t and when indoors and in stores.

17 thoughts on “The Current Normal – Coping with Covid – Unknown Unknowns

  1. Excellent post; well said. I didn’t think much of Rumsfeld, but your quote from him reminds me of a life coach I knew many years ago who talked about how our knowledge falls into three categories: the body of information we know, the body we know we don’t know, ie, I know I don’t know how to fly an airplane or wire a building; and lastly, the body that we don’t know that we don’t know. The 16th century explorers had no idea at all of how much they didn’t know, for instance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed re: Rumsfeld, but his quote was startlingly accurate. Science now is moving light years faster than it was in the days of leeches and blood letting. Politicians and the general public need to stop discrediting the scientists, just because the story is in flux. Thanks so much for chiming in Lynette. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks John. As they say, common sense is not common any more. In our rush to grab freedom for ourselves, we delay the norm for the greater population, thus lengthening the agony for all. Thanks for reading. Hope all is well with you and your family. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I see these violently angry people throwing their tantrums when asked to wear a mask and wonder when did we become so stupid? A man who lay dying in icu after attending a COVID party in Texas said to his nurse, astonished, “I thought the virus was a hoax.” Sure, we have irresponsible leaders perpetrating misinformation in the USA, but what happened to critical thinking skills? Why don’t people see through these snake oil salesmen?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They always talk about the 7 deadly sins, but right now, I only see two. Greed and Power. The snake oil salesmen combine the two perfectly and narcissists seem better able to persuade the people to their point of view. What many do not realize is the none of us have power, we only have the illusion of power, but, we all have the power to make a difference and if we could get past the greed to have what we want, when we want it, we can use this power to achieve our dreams, by giving a S— about somebody else for a change. I heard about the man in Texas. Realization dawned too late for him. Let is hope this is not the case for everyone. Thanks for the dialogue T. I know there are so many more people out there that get this. Stay well. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree! Although I am all about living in as free a society as possible, I don’t understand people who believe that wearing a face mask infringes upon their rights. There’s a reason we are being asked, or told, to do this, and a very good reason at that. Until we can control this virus, we need to contain it and figure out a way to live with it that doesn’t destroy our economy and endanger people’s lives. If wearing a mask means I can go to the store, go to work, to to the doctor when I need to, etc., then that’s a good thing. I guess I would understand people resisting if the government just said one morning “everyone has to wear a mask” for no good reason. But this is a pandemic, so yes, we’re going to have to do some things that we ordinarily wouldn’t do. And honestly, wearing a mask just isn’t that hard!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Is this rights infringement any different than telling people they must stop at a stop sign. 9 times out of ten, you might get away with not stopping at a stop sign, but on the 10th time, you may have a collision. If the mask stops one person from getting Covid 19, I am happy. They did a test at our local university. A news reporter talked, sang and coughed on petri dish cultures, with a mask and then without. With a mask, there was not one spot on the culture after 24 hours for any of the three actions. Without a mask, there were 3 or 4 spots for talking, maybe 15 for singing and the dish was totally covered from the cough. Proof enough, one would think. We can limit the spread of Covid with masks, but we have to care about what happens to others and in turn have them care about what happens to us. Stay well, Ann. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

  4. All countries need to be on the same wave length. If we all wore masks and frequently washed our hands Covid would disappear within weeks. (So I’m told by my CDC friend). Life is not and will not be normal for a long time if people live life as if things were back to being normal. The choice to stay home versus being with family for the summer is a hard decision to make, but it’s the right one. Stay safe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well said Colleen. So many have given up so much for the good of all. It would be a shame to waste all that selflessness with even a tiny bit of selfishness. There are so many things we all want to do, but we have to accept the fact that we can not yet do it safely. We do wear masks when physical distancing is not possible and while they do not in fact make us look like the Lone Ranger, they do make us look a bit like heroes. Stay well. Allan


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