There are the things we do not know we don’t know” (2002)[i]   –we are ignorant of our ignorance (the Dunning-Kruger effect)[ii] 

This is closely related to a term we can borrow from the clinicians: A failure of “insight” into one’s disability: anosognosia, “a deficit of self-awareness, a condition in which a person who suffers some disability seems unaware of the existence of their disability. It … results from physiological damage to brain structures, typically to the parietal lobe or a diffuse lesion on the fronto-temporal-parietal area in the right hemisphere, and is thus a neurological disorder.” (From Wikipedia March 17 2017) 

This is fascinating: you will enjoy  Errol Morris’s (2010) essays on the Anosognosic’s Dilemma from the New York Times.


But areas of dysfunction need to be placed in context and some injuries can lead to a compensating  CONFABULATION — a rationalizing story that the author is unaware is not true:  Lisa Bortolotti, professor of philosophy at the University of Birmingham argues for some of the underlying causes in “Why Telling Ourselves Stories Makes us Feel Okay.” . 


[i] NATO HQ, Brussels, Press Conference by U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, June 6, 2002

[ii] “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties of Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-assessments,” was published in 1999.[ii]

“Dunning and Kruger argued in their paper, “When people are incompetent in the strategies they adopt to achieve success and satisfaction, they suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it.  Instead, like Mr. Wheeler, they are left with the erroneous impression they are doing just fine.”  It became known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect — our incompetence masks our ability to recognize our incompetence.”