Service of “I Don’t Know” When Nobody Does Yet Some Insist They Do

May 28th, 2020

Categories: I Don't Know, Information, Insecurity


I had a boss who couldn’t say “I don’t know.” He’d ask for a PR proposal and would make up information about a prospective client rather than admit he hadn’t had time to read background.

We’ve all known people who no matter what you mention have already read the book, seen the movie, eaten at the restaurant when it opened, attended the play in previews, are up to speed on technology and are familiar with the latest jargon in every industry–or so they say. [It’s exhausting.]


We are used to pundits who share their intel with appropriate scientific backup and/or data to reassure. But that’s not what’s happening now. And it’s hard to accept. The twists and turns as Covid-19 plays out astound as they keep happening: You might carry and spread the virus to others yet not feel sick; children at first free from danger now are not. At first we were advised by some to physicians to disinfect groceries before putting them away and now the CDC advises you needn’t. [I still do.]

In spite of the uncertainty there are people who assert that they know for sure what’s best for communities, industries and fellow citizens. With equal assurance others maintain that they are wrong. You almost can’t blame those who crowd beaches the old fashioned way or mock social distancing and other suggestions to help stem the spread of the virus–as the advice and conclusions are quixotic. We’re all grasping at straws with hope for a cure or a vaccine ASAP.

To figure out next steps the president tossed the ball to governors and governors to local officials. With all the opinions and latest “facts” shooting at us from all directions citizens are ultimately left to decide what to do. When local restaurants open for business, are you in? Is a day at the beach in your near future? Planning a vacation that involves hotel stays? Are you unsettled by the ambiguities regarding Covid-19? Are you secure in the paths you’ve chosen to follow?




10 Responses to “Service of “I Don’t Know” When Nobody Does Yet Some Insist They Do”

  1. Amanda Ripanykhazova Said:

    The only people who have any idea what is going on are the risk assessment professionals at the insurance or re-insurance companies.

    (Unless they are just assuming that their companies wont be liable, come-what-may)

  2. jmbyington Said:


    Good point.

    Yet we don’t hear from that quarter. Curious why news shows haven’t invited these people for input.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    Appearing to be omniscient is often used as a protective shield, and little else. After all, there are those who are easily fooled, and it’s necessary for some folks to feel important.

    Another approach is to claim to know nothing, then if it’s worth the trouble, observe and learn. The reward, in this case, is to be respected.

    Perhaps this is an oversimplification of matters, but it covers many bases pretty well, and I have neither the patience, nor the interest, to question people why they are what they are. Come to think of it, it’s nobody’s business!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    In personal relationships I couldn’t agree more with you. I avoid know-it-alls–they bother me. I am uncomfortable around people who boast. I won’t play games of one-up·man·ship.

    People with chronic diseases with no cure know what living in information limbo is like. It’s similar to our spot during the pandemic. For example, they might be advised at the onset to avoid this or that food and then years in researchers find that they can eat that food group. It’s frustrating but if patients trust their advisor/physician, and survive, they can more easily live with/accept the twists and turns.

    When it comes to decisions that impact the public during a crisis we need to trust that the source of information ignores partisanship and shares the best information available. So for me, for now, I’m comfortable with social distancing, masks, gloves and avoiding gatherings. Until a cure or vaccine comes on the scene you won’t soon see me sitting at an outdoor restaurant even six feet from others, which is unlikely, without a mask–and how else might patrons eat/drink?

  5. Amanda Ripanykhazova Said:

    News show bookers aren’t bright enough to know who to book to get the proper answers. Meanwhile they are bombarded with offers of interviews by all sorts of people with agendas to push. THEN they aren’t bright enough to realise that the person they booked didn’t really give any sort of answer which was any different from the plethora of similar interviewees who have spouted forth on similar subjects over the last 2-3 months.

    It doesn’t help that the interviewers all ask the same dumb “Now that you are here, Can you please predict the future” questions over and over again.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Couldn’t agree more.

    I watch Gov. Cuomo’s daily media conference and that’s it for daytime TV and I look for fluffy stuff after 7 pm when I again turn on the TV or watch programs on Netflix. Call me Mrs. Ostrich but as you note, I’ve heard it all before. And I was previously a loyal MSNBC/CNN watcher.

    Apparently millions aren’t watching or hearing much as they still haven’t absorbed the most basic message that hasn’t changed from the pandemic’s start re. wearing a mask and social distancing. Curious if Chris Rock and Rosie Perez will be the answer in NYC where marketing folks determined they would reach Latino and African American youth. I fear they will preach to the converted as will the catchy winning NYC “wear a mask” videos. What’s needed: substantial fines as they exist for not using a seat belt or for serving alcohol to minors.

    An executive order without teeth will not help store owners in certain neighborhoods who are understandably desperate for business. Years ago a garage repair business owner told me that a major credit card company he’d called to get the OK on a major charge said to rip up the card as the owner hadn’t paid and owed the company a lot of money. He said he couldn’t do that–what a spot to put him in! Asking store owners to police for masks is similar.

  7. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie said on Facebook: Restaurants still not on my list. Social distancing & masks seem to be keeping me & my family safe. I appreciate the plight of small businesses, but personally not ready to take a risk.

  8. jmbyington Said:


    I’m with you. I’m also not ready to attend gatherings of 10 people or less even if that number is approved.

  9. Martha Takayama Said:

    It is very difficult at this time to trust or believe anyone regarding health, the pandemic and how to protect ourselves. It would seem best to rely on the scientific and medical community for guidelines. However, we have to clarify that those experts are acting in the name of science and adhering to the Hippocratic oath and not to political or financial pressures and interests.

    It is a foregone conclusion that we have no national or presidential leadership. Most governors and local officials are not scientists or epidemiologists and their loyalties and personal beliefs may not make them capable of determining what is best for all. In this maelstrom of confusion and anxiety caused by Covid-19 it seems the majority of us are not secure or in the paths we are choosing. We really have to maintain a constant state of emotional and behavioral alert which is exhausting and demoralizing.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    We are spinning in the wind–a terrible place to be simply adding to our insecurities at the same time supporting the naysayers.

    As I write the president is threatening to move the 50,000 expected at his convention in August from North Carolina because the governor cannot comfortably welcome and ensure the safety of such a crowd. I will be curious to see how many Republicans are willing to potentially harm themselves. Perhaps a poll of how many plan to come would be prudent before booking another venue.

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