Ali Gordon


“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” – I think this quote is attributed to Mark Twain but I came across it at the beginning of the film The Big Short which if you haven’t seen it you should as it’s a great film.

It’s a funny quote because it’s so difficult to know what those things are that you know for sure that could be wrong. It fills you with a sense of unease.  My old boss used to say that assumption was the route of most problems and whilst we all make assumptions to a certain degree I tended to think he was right (to be fair he was speaking in a work context).

A friend told me that this quote rings true in a scene from the US TV show West Wing (here) where he was stunned to learn that maps (as they were taught to us as kids) can be deemed to be wrong in so many ways. This really is a case of something you are so sure about turning out not to be true.

I think it’s safe to say that we all make assumptions and we all have moments when we are sure of something only to find out that we shouldn’t have been so sure. I guess all we can do it’s apply a level or probability to what we “know” and realise that everyone at some point will be sure of something that just ain’t so.

Let me know something that you have “known for sure” that turned out not to be true.

Take care and stay safe

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