The Anosognosic’s Dilemma

Here’s a good one if you’re looking to tickle your brain. Errol Morris tackles the idea of the “unknown unknowns” or not having any awareness that you don’t know something. Here’s an excerpt between a conversation Morris had with David Dunning as part of the article:

DAVID DUNNING: … if you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent.ERROL MORRIS: Why not?

DAVID DUNNING: If you knew it, you’d say, “Wait a minute.  The decision I just made does not make much sense.  I had better go and get some independent advice.”   But when you’re incompetent, the skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is.  In logical reasoning, in parenting, in management, problem solving, the skills you use to produce the right answer are exactly the same skills you use to evaluate the answer.  And so we went on to see if this could possibly be true in many other areas.  And to our astonishment, it was very, very true.

This reminded of that talk John Cleese gave in which he said “that most people who have absolutely no idea what they’re doing, have absolutely no idea that they have no idea what they’re doing.”