Fandango’s Provocative Question (12 February 2020)

Wednesday. Fandango has just moved house but has nevertheless got his legions of aides to publish a Provocative Question. This week, he asks:

Is it better to know or is it better to not know?

Okay, some context from me. This was asked in a guy’s Philosophy exam. The exam, however, appeared to provide no context whatever. So, presumably it means just “to know, in general”.

I’m in my fifties now, and don’t need to worry about passing any exams, so my answer would be :

It depends.

There, simple. Hey, if somebody wants to ask a smart-ass question, then sure as hell, I’m capable of giving a smart-ass answer!

But let’s say for a moment that I was one of those students, and my answer was going to make the difference between brain surgery and sweeping up everybody’s garbage. I’d maybe want to expand my answer a little.

I think probably most scenarios, I would like to know. For example:

  • I’d like to know how much money is in the bank, so I could choose between dining at the Tour d’Argent and McDonald’s;

(La Tour d’Argent [The Silver Tower] is a top-notch restaurant in Paris, France. It overlooks La Seine, Notre Dame and the Ile St Louis. If you get the chance, go there. But beware, it is expensive. When I went, it cost me €300 – about $330. That’s about 3 week’s Disability Benefit on a single meal.)


  • I wish I’d known the car was about to break down, then I wouldn’t have started this 500-mile trip;


  • I wish I’d known it was going to rain today, so I wouldn’t have been soaked;


  • I’d like to know who’s going to win next season, so I could go place a bet on them tomorrow;

or even

  • I wish I’d known that <insert name here> was a bastard, so I might never have bothered going out with them in the first place!

Okay, that last one might have hurt, but you’re a lot wiser for the experience!

There are all sorts of things I would like to know about, but there are a few I’m glad I don’t know. The biggie is

  • when am I going to die?

For something like that, you can keep it. Can you imagine how horrible it would be, if we all wore some kind of countdown timer? (although I did enjoy Logan’s Run, but there’s dystopia for you) How desparate we’d all be, when the number got down low? How spooky it’d be when that number went negative (🙂, Fandango!) I get hung up about how I’ll go, but not so much about when I go. That I will go at some point is probably a safe bet (though I might come back to haunt you!) but aside from it being too soon (it’ll be too soon, whenever it happens), I don’t think when is particularly something I’d want to know.


    • Thanks, and I agree with you. Context is vital in this case because by removing any context, a group of academics have presumably come up with a question, about which they can pat themselves on the back, but which is actually pretty meaningless.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I like the possibility of knowing, so you can chose not to know. Not knowing some things (like general things) and being confronted with it sucks because you think ‘I could have known that’.
    On matters of life and death, I don’t need to know. The less we know about that the happier we are (in my experience) but dogs are always happy (almost always) and they don’t even realize that they can die one day. They are just not aware and this leads to them being so cute!
    Life itself knows a lot of things and teaches us. Would you have like to know that you were going to survive a stroke? Or would you prefer to live without that knowledge ’till it happened?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It ould only really have been useful to know about the stroke if I could have done something to prevent it. I can’t ignore either that I have learned some things as a result of the stroke that I maybe would not have known. E.g. how the health service might be better. Also the charity stuff I do – I mean. I was always sympathetic, but only after the stroke did I decide that I needed to actually *do* something.

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      • I guess knowing or not, the hardships of life will still hit us. It’s so nice reading about how you go about it and how you manage to turn it into something positive (not all of it but I hope you know what I mean).
        If I would known all what was going to happen, I would have taken quicker action but that would be because the lesson would have been known already. It’s like cheating on a test, you can fill it in quicker. But I would not have prevented it, I guess I need to learn and as I am so stubborn, there is not other way than the hard way I think.

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