Secrecy is ignorance turned to advantage…


From Edge:

Secrecy is ignorance made useful, ignorance turned to advantage. The secret is something that one person or two persons or (one count) the 854,000 people with top secret clearances in the U.S. Government can know and that is worth keeping somebody else in the dark about. It’s only a secret when there’s advantage to the ignorance. I know what I had for lunch today and you don’t: it’s not a secret. I know what I’m getting my dearly beloved for Christmas, she doesn’t: that’s a secret. That one’s a benign secret and will bring us both pleasure. Not all secrets are benign.

So who gets to keep secrets? Whoever can get away with it and wants the advantage badly enough to exploit the ignorance of others. If in an information age, it gets harder to keep people in ignorance, then lots of secrets will get harder to keep. There will be fights over these things and a new normal will be achieved.

Secrets are ignorance crafted by artifice. They represent knowledge made into a tool for advantage. When one breaks (that is, when somebody learns the secret who isn’t supposed to), power and advantage can shift suddenly and disproportionately. We relish the moments of secret-breaking because we like the spectacle of sudden reversal — like an intercepted pass in football.

“Who Gets to Keep Secrets?”, James O’Donnell, Edge