On Not Knowing Stuff

“In matters of military contingency, the expected, precisely because it is expected, is not to be expected. Rationale: What we expect, we plan and provide for; what we plan and provide for, we thereby deter; what we deter does not happen. What does happen is what we did not deter, because we did not plan and provide for it, because we did not expect it.” – Sir Michael Quinlan, MOD PUS


“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 ” – Rumsfeld (famously, but not his)


0th Order Ignorance (0OI)—Lack of Ignorance: You know, you have the answer.

1st Order Ignorance (1OI)—Lack of Knowledge: You know what you don’t know, you have the question.

2nd Order Ignorance (2OI)—Lack of Awareness: You don’t know what you don’t know.

3rd Order Ignorance (3OI)—Lack of Process: You have no means, or process, for resolving your lack of knowledge.

4th Order Ignorance (4OI)—Meta Ignorance: Not aware of these 5 levels.

– Phillip Armour, The five orders of ignorance


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