This website covers topics on knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

Taxonomy of Ignorance

At the KMPro meeting last week, someone semi-joked about the four levels of ignorance, which are related to the Levels of Competence. So, I attempted to dig up some reference to the levels of ignorance.

Unsuccessful, but I found a 1999 paper, Modelling Ignorance Levels in Knowledge-Based Decision Support (pdf) from Ema Denby & John Gammack, School of Information Technology, Murdoch University, Australia. They create a Taxonomy of Ignorance, based on previous work by Holtzman. The purpose is to increase awareness of both knowledge and ignorance that help shape decision processes.

Here is the taxonomy from the paper:

Ignorance Level Description Knowledge Required
Combinatorial Computational task too difficult, e.g. problem with 10 40 variables. Mathematics model available; use of supercomputers.
Watsonian Cannot make the connection from all the clues; solution method incomplete. Method for determining the important facts from the unimportant ones, and drawing the right conclusion.
Gordian King Gordius tied a knot for the future king of Asia to untie. Alexander the Great was able to "untie it" by cutting the knot with his sword, thus solving the problem in an unusual way. Lateral thinking; are there "rules" to be broken?
Ptolemaic Attributed to the Greek mathematician and astronomer, Ptolemy, whose model of the universe centered around a stationary earth. Evidence and observation of reality.
Magical "No one knows how it works, but everyone knows that it works", e.g. the use of Aspirin and other similar drugs. Trial and error.
Dark No model is available but one is aware of the issues, e.g. "What is Life?", "Consciousness", etc. Future of Science
Fundamental Unaware of issue. (Ignorance is bliss!)  

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