Mocha Express
Thought provoking commentary on
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to clarify my thinking and engage in intelligent conversation.
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2 Orders Of Ignorance

June 25, 2013
Untitled Document

Orders of Ignorance

"As complexity increases, the search for a 'best' system by analytic comparison of all conceivable alternatives becomes impractical"
Systems Architecture, Eberhardt Rechtin, 1991

This is synopsis of one of my favorite "classic" commentaries from 2001


Mount Stupid

An interesting article by Philip Armor
            The Five Orders of Ignorance, Philip Armour, CACM, Oct 2000, pg 17
and a much later cartoon by
     Mount Stupid - Weiner on Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
       Want To Make Good Decisions? Avoid Mount Stupid,
             Chris Barth, Forbes 2011-12-29
set a standard for discussing knowledge and lack thereof.

Orders of Ignorance

Phillip Armour noted in the CACM articles:
"...the kinds of knowledge that must be gained will vary from system to systems. The degree to which the knowledge is unknown will pretty much determine how long it takes us to acquire it."   CACM, Dec 2000, pg 15

He then proceeds to follow up on the definitions of ignorance, he brought forward in the October edition:

  1. 0th Order Ignorance - Lack of ignorance: have the answers in hand in provable/useable/applicable form
  2. 1st Order Ignorance - Lack of knowledge: we know we don't know something.  The question is in well factored form, we know that we must get the knowledge and the steps to acquire/integrate the knowledge.
  3. 2nd Order Ignorance - Lack of awareness: we are not aware that we don't know something.  We don't even have a clear question that we want to answer but we do have a general roadmap with the note "here be dragons", in some places
  4. 3rd Order Ignorance - Lack of process: not only do we not know that we need to know something, but there also isn't a map or strategic plan that will take us in the right direction to find the information: we have no clue as to when we will find "dragons" or tarpits.
  5. 4th Order Ignorance - Meta-ignorance: when there isn't even a thought that there might be unknowns

Winning Isn't Everything, It Is The Only Thing!

As I review in The Game Is Rigged, many folk, especially guys want to boost their fragile egos by "wining at any cost".  Attitudes and approaches like take the hill , spouting trite phrases to bully others, climbing on Mount Stupid while proclaiming knowledge, are all common, everyday examples.
"Engineering licensing is a tool that has been used for decades to protect the public from those individuals who think more highly of their credentials and abilities than those credentials and abilities actually merit." 
July 18, 1998, the Texas Board of Professional Engineers
Surmounting Techno-ease Balkanization - Mocha Express Commentaries, ww09/2001


[1] 2001-ww01 - The Thrill of Flying Along At Internet Speed...
Until Hitting the Rocks At the Bottom of The Cliff
"4th Order Ignorance" As A Success Inhibitor

Recent Commentaries
in Practical Knowledge Book

Commentary:Practical - June 25, 2013
3  Sleep Cycles
Commentary:Practical - June 25, 2013
2  Orders Of Ignorance
Commentary:Practical - October 27, 1978
1  Introduction

Practical Knowledge

1   Introduction
  October 27, 1978
2   Orders Of Ignorance
  June 25, 2013
3   Sleep Cycles
  June 25, 2013
Carpe Diem: What you can envision, you can achieve!sm
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