Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Unknown unknowns

Strictly speaking, unknown unknowns are (like) oxymorons because we cannot know the things that we do not know. Human inventions challenge the notion that unknown unknowns could or would even exist. As an individual, I have (very?) many unknown unknowns.

Unknown unknowns may, however, not exist when we view (all) humans as a group rather than as aggregated individuals. Collective consciousness may then explain the existence of inventions. Finally, the notion of a universal mind – a.k.a. panpsychism – may fill any remaining (knowledge) gaps.

How do we get from unknown unknowns to knowledge (ie, known knowns)?

Through a learning cycle, including the common How, What, When, Where, Who and Why questions:
1. our curiosity is the start of everything (eg, why can birds fly?);
2. a desire to copy certain tricks as nearly all our inventions are copies from nature; see my 2019 blog;
3. our imagination (eg, how do birds fly?) will address our curiosity;
4. our intuition (ie, unknown knowns) brings solutions (ie, with what) for the problem (eg, wings);
5. our beliefs (ie, known unknowns) will trigger our persistence in solving the problem;
6. our knowledge (ie, known knowns) represents successful solutions;
7. teaching others (eg, aviation school).

Examples: in 1489, the Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci invented a “vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aerial machine” – or a helicopter today. On 17 December 1903, the American Wright brothers flew with “the world’s first successful motor-operated airplane”.

Some of our desires have triggered questionable and/or suspicious solutions (eg, fortune telling, medium, séance, Tarot cards). As often, our beliefs (eg, opinions) are stronger than our knowledge (eg, facts). Also see my 2016 blog: Why are opinions stronger than facts?

Our unknown unknowns are often considered risks or threats that must be mitigated (ie, risk management). Nevertheless, our unknown unknowns can also be hidden opportunities. The main question to identify our unknown unknowns is Why because everything follows Why.

“Leaders face uncertain situations every day, but the most challenging circumstances are often completely unexpected. To better anticipate your blind spots, seek out an inside perspective from someone with direct experience in the situation.”

A quote from a 2016 article in Harvard Business Review (HBR): Simple Ways to Spot Unknown Unknowns

Freed from Desire (1997) by GALA
artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-artist, Wiki-song

Freed from desire, mind and senses purified
Freed from desire, mind and senses purified
Freed from desire, mind and senses purified
Freed from desire

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.


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