Tomoshige Ohno Posted about 1 year ago Why are we afraid to make mistakes? For some reason Donald Rumsfeld's famous statement came to my mind: “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.” Nate Silver's penetrating book “The Signal and the Noise” also refers to this quote. While many people like scientists and forecasters are placing much emphasis on revealing or predicting known unknowns, it is unknown unknowns such as the 9/11 terror attack — most people had never thought about if an airplane would crash into a huge tower — that may potentially influence our life and therefore we should really care about (which is impossible because we don't know they exist). Failing to do something is acceptable as long as it doesn't trigger unprecedented effects — that is, unknown unknowns — but otherwise we would hesitate to try. Fear of mistakes could be part of our instinct to survive in this world where unknown unknowns are omnipresent.