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Anosognosia and the unknown unknowns


Film-maker Errol Morris asks whether Donald Rumsfeld’s infamous quote was a sign of his intelligence, or of his ignorance and talks to psychologist David Dunning, co-author of the 1999 paper ‘Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties of Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-assessments’.

‘Is an “unknown unknown” beyond anything I can imagine?  Or am I confusing the “unknown unknowns” with the “unknowable unknowns?”  Are we constituted in such a way that there are things we cannot know?  Perhaps because we cannot even frame the questions we need to ask?’

Many of the issues raised here can be applied directly to our studies of the scientific and epistemological fringes, even to military and intelligence secrets – how can you come up with an answer when you don’t even know what the question is?

Read the piece over at the New York Times