Better not knowing

June 15, 2012
Peter J. McDonnell, MD

He is director of The Wilmer Eye Institute, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, and chief medical editor of Ophthalmology Times.

Sometimes it is best that we don't know what we don't know.

"There's a time and a place for everything. It's called college."

-"South Park," Season 4

"If most people knew how many sharks are out there, they would never get in the water," he said.

When friends would visit and ask about sharks, I would routinely tell them not to worry, and if need be, lie and say there were no sharks in this area. "It's best they don't know," I told myself.

Similarly, when my son graduated high school and went to an institution of higher learning, he would often repeat the quote from the TV program "South Park" about the college years being a time for, shall we say, "experimentation." He would sometimes treat his father to tales of sophomoric fraternity behaviors. But I would not listen. "It's best I don't know," I told myself.

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