The Empowerment of Admitting ‘I Don’t Know’

This is a link to Top Ten Things Believers Say When They mean “I don’t know”.  Most unbelievers have heard all of these at one time or another. I really don’t understand why anyone would be afraid of ‘I don’t know’. Here is a list of 5 reasons why “I don’t know “ is liberating and powerful:

  1. It opens the door to Inquiry:  One of the very foundations of innovation is admitting that you do not know. No scientist, inventor or engineer ever started with knowing and ended their creative/scientific process with a question.  When combined with a desire to know “I don’t know” makes discovery and learning possible.
  2. It protects us from ignorance and gullibility:  If something doesn’t make sense or is difficult for us to understand admitting “I don’t know” prevents us from arriving at our own unexamined conclusions or accepting someone else’s unproven answer. Being able to admit we don’t know helps protects us from arbitrarily accepting untruths by realizing that another person may not know either.
  3. It’s Wiser:   No one is fooled by a know it all but everyone is annoyed by one.  Human beings have limits, no one knows everything. Some things just can’t be known. An acknowledgement of these things is simply the more sensible position.
  4. It’s Less Stressful:  A little acceptance goes a long way to allowing us to move on to other more important things, even if only for the time being.
  5. Courageous:  Not being able to admit “I don’t know” indicates a desperate need for acceptance and/or approval of either ourselves or others. Admitting and accepting “I don’t know” takes courage and confidence.  It’s also less arrogant than assuming we do know.

“That though we are certain of many things, yet that Certainty is no absolute Infallibility, there still remains the possibility of our being mistaken in all matters of humane Belief and Inquiry.” Joseph Glanvill


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