Twwedyk – the amazing world of unknown unknowns

Entrance hall of the Bluefin building, London
The Bluefin building, London

It may sound like somewhere out of Harry Potter or Iceland. It’s neither.

But it could have been, because like Hogwarts or the Sagas, Twwedyk is a place of exciting possibilities. Visit on a good day and you’ll be inspired, motivated and ready for your next journey. You’ll depart feeling more forgiving and less judgmental. You’ll give people the benefit of the doubt and there’ll be noticeably less conflict in your life. Visit on a less good day and you might feel unsettled, daunted or fearful. But stick with it. I recommend visiting Twwedyk regularly, even when you’d rather stay where you are.

So where is it?

Stairway to a house in Gardone, Italy with flowers and shrubs
Gardone, Italy

Time for the reveal. Twwedyk is That Which WE Don’t Yet Know (TWWEDYK).

The naturally curious among us – which includes most travellers – seek out Twwedyk all the time. It encompasses our desire for information, knowledge, wisdom and understanding.

It doesn’t stop there though, because let’s face it, we can all search and find. But our understanding, feelings and reactions to those findings vary considerably, so a spirit of negotiation and compromise is sometimes needed to achieve a positive outcome.

My boss used to say that she couldn’t believe how members of our team could all go to the same meeting, yet emerge with completely different interpretations of what was decided there. No wonder record-keeping is so important!

Scary Twwedyk

One of the fascinations of travel is to learn how different nationalities and countries see the world and interpret history. In my adopted country of New Zealand we have, among others, the European-based world view and the Maori world view – both very different but equally valid.

Government policymakers have the unenviable task of running the country in such a way as to meet everyone’s needs without appearing to discriminate. It can be tricky. I remember when the proposed route for a new road was ultimately changed, because the original plan had it going through an area where a taniwha (water monster) lived. As you can imagine, not everyone approved of that decision.

It can be tempting to want to stick to our own way of looking at things. After all, it’s hard-wired, thanks to our parents, environment, culture, religion, education and personality. So when we’re faced with a challenge from a very different perspective, it can feel a bit threatening. The first instinct is often to criticise the challenger and defend our position.

At moments like this, it’s worth remembering Twwedyk. We might have beliefs and opinions, but none of us is in full possession of all knowledge or absolute truth. Over time, much of what people thought to be true, even in the fact-based and evidence-based world of science, has subsequently been overthrown by new discoveries. So we can’t afford to be over-confident. Look at the coronavirus pandemic – classic Twwedyk!

What the bleep do we know?

Sometimes those of us from the developed world assume we have the superior knowledge and, therefore, power. But is that always the case?

Steps up to a garden in Portofino, Italy
Portofino, Italy

Just imagine, for a moment, that everything we think we know, is actually wrong. Not just our beliefs, but facts and logic too, because there is information out there that we haven’t discovered yet.

Vanuatu regularly manages to hover at the top of ‘world happiness’ league tables. This might suggest that they know something about life that wealthier, more powerful nations, don’t.

Thus, all the time and effort we’ve invested in making our way in the universe we thought we knew, might have been for nothing! How does that feel? Pretty uncomfortable, right? Yet it’s perfectly possible. After all, it’s happened plenty of times before.

Flat earth and other superseded theories

Here are just some examples of the scientific knowledge that has been superseded over time:

The flat earth. This belief, held by many ancient civilizations, was challenged in the 6th century BC by Pythagoras. By around 330 BC, the concept of a spherical planet earth had begun to extend beyond the Hellenistic world, heavily influenced by the scientific work of Aristotle. (His work was eventually superseded in turn, by the likes of Copernicus, Galileo and Newton).

The smooth moon. The belief that the moon has a totally smooth surface was overthrown by the experiments of Galileo in the early 17th century.

Terra Australis. This hypothetical continent appeared on maps between the 15th and 18th centuries, until exploration and discovery debunked the theory.

The tooth worm. It was once believed that gum disease and tooth decay were caused by worms in the mouth.

Continental drift was a theory that the continents move over time, in relation to each other. This has since been superseded by the field of plate tectonics.

Brain cells start dying when we reach the age of 13. Happily, neuroscientific research has shown that older people can generate as many brain cells as younger people.

The human body deteriorates with age. Some of the more mind-blowing recent scientific studies suggest that this is not necessarily true. In fact, some of the ‘mind over body’ research going on is truly remarkable. Quantum theory shows that we can influence the physical world with our thoughts and consciousness to a level that nobody would have believed possible, even to the extent of curing terminal illness. If anyone wants to know more, I recommend the works of Dr Joe Dizpenza such as You are the placebo and Becoming supernatural: how common people are doing the uncommon[Note: these are not affiliate links].

Not forgetting fake news

The grand staircase at the St Pancras International, London
The grand staircase at the St Pancras International, London

Of course it’s not just undiscovered knowledge that makes Twwedyk so important to consider. It’s also those known facts that become obscured, concealed, distorted, misreported, twisted, plagiarised or nuanced. And the fake ‘facts’ – fabrications, old wives’ tales, rumours and urban myths. Many of these are put out there by people with agendas, and not all of them are going to be in your interest.

Information sources are important to evaluate: are they authentic, trusted, accessible? Do they have expertise in the subject? If they provide evidence to support an argument, is that evidence referenced, available, verifiable, peer-reviewed? Researching, checking and re-checking are vital in order to root out fake news and scams. Stop to think: what’s the Twwedyk factor?

Twwedyk in social (and other) media

It never ceases to amaze me how willing people are to believe what they read and pass it on unchecked – especially if it happens to coincide with their own viewpoint. No wonder the scammers of the world find easy prey.

In my view, nobody should accept anything (including this blog post!) without considering Twwedyk. Absolutely everything we read and hear should be questioned. This is particularly true during silly seasons such as pre-election periods. But it’s true at other times too.

Social media is especially full of manipulators, often using incredibly subtle techniques to get people to hook on to their message and spread it. Some of these actors are state-sponsored, and they want to influence public opinion. Are you happy to be their unpaid servant?

I bet you’ve seen quizzes that ask ‘what kind of X are you?’ and invite you to answer a series of questions, only to demand your personal information before giving you your results. Who are these people, and what are they doing with your data?

Beware of ‘cut, paste and share’

Woman coming up the steps of the Greenwich foot tunnel in London
Me at the Greenwich foot tunnel under the Thames in London

I bet you’ve seen friends’ Facebook posts that encourage you to ‘cut and paste’ paragraphs into a post of your own. They might even include statements like ‘I know only my true friends will do this’ – or ‘only those that really care’. Don’t be fooled – this is pure manipulation.

When people cut and paste content, then post it under their own name, the originator of the piece will never be known – and that’s exactly what they want. The post looks like it came from your friend, and if you share it, it will look as though it came from you. However innocuous or worthy these posts appear to be, sometimes dealing with emotive subjects, you can bet your life that you’re looking at fake content written by someone with an agenda.

My advice: think Twwedyk. If you find one of these posts on your timeline and it’s not obvious who the originator is – and I don’t mean your friend who posted it – ignore it.

Exciting Twwedyk

Staircase at the Fullerton Hotel Singapore
The Fullerton, Singapore

The good news – as we’ve seen with those new scientific discoveries mentioned above – is that so many things that we thought weren’t possible, have become possible.

We can survive illnesses that killed our ancestors. We can fly. We can create light. We can speak to people 12,000 miles away while looking through a digital window into their lounge. Some of us can run a mile in under 4 minutes. We can don a headset and walk through the streets of ancient Rome.

Imagine what your great-great-great grandparents would think about today’s world!

So if we can do all that now, what might we be able to do in the future? What will people in 3 generations’ time be thinking and doing? By the laws of quantum physics, we should be able to design our own reality.

Think Twwedyk

“Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.”

Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defense, 2002

Mr Rumsfeld’s response to questions about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is so famous that he is now forever associated with it. He even entitled his memoirs Known and unknown. I’m not surprised that it resonated with so many people. We’re all faced with Twwedyk!

Staircases lead to new unseen levels of life. I hope you enjoyed my pictures of some of the stairways to heaven that I’ve climbed during my travels. In case you’re wondering about the main feature image, my husband took it from the top floor of the Bluefin Building in London, looking down at the entrance hall. So cool how the furnishings have been designed to look like caterpillars and creatures from above!

If you’d like to read more about Vanuatu, see my post on The happy isle of Oceania. You might also enjoy my article on the benefits of travel, 6 reasons why travel is good for you.

© Coconut Lands. Not to be reproduced without permission.

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5 Comments

  1. That was such a great read, Carole! Happy to find this post! Twwedyk is an amazing world! 🙂 Really enjoyed reading it, and will check the books you’ve recommended! Really curious to read about Vanatau too!

  2. A brilliant and well written article. I agree with you on so many of these points. I think it is good that the children are now taught to question everything (well it can be annoying sometimes haha). I’d love to know what our future generations will debunk of our theories.

  3. Very intriguing read. I’m completely in agreement with so much you said. However I always thought tectonic activity and continental drift were the same thing. Oops. While it’s good to question things we think we know, sometimes it’s good not to question them too. Another problem with the world, people questioning those things they shouldn’t. Isn’t life confusing. 😁

    1. Fair point, we don’t want to be like those children who respond with ‘Why?’ to every single thing we say. And besides, nobody expects the Spanish inquisition 🙂 Plate tectonics: I think it’s just a modern version of the original drift theory which has more conclusive geological explanations about about how and why the continents ‘move’.

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