Taxonomies of the unknown – Kerwin’s Map of Ignorance (1983)

Along with many other ignorance taxonomies in the first link. H/t David Ing, I came to this from his ISSS Presidential inaugural presentation, just linked.

Main source: Taxonomies of the unknown [Andreas’ Notes]

Other sources:

Taxonomies of the unknown

A compilation with references of some classifications, systematics and other orders of what is not known.

The Map of Ignorance (Kerwin, 1983-)

Domains of Ignorance

  • Known Unknowns: All the things you know you don’t know
  • Unknown Unknowns: All the things you don’t know you don’t know
  • Errors: All the things you think you know but don’t
  • Unknown Knowns: All the things you don’t know you know
  • Taboos: Dangerous, polluting or forbidden knowledge
  • Denials: All the things too painful to know, so you don’t

By Ann Kerwin and Marlys Witte (Q-cubed Programs: What Is Ignorance?). According to Ann Kerwin the Map of Ignorance was developed by her circa 1983. It has later been presented in 1985 and 1986 together with Marlys Witte.

This little map has traveled the globe. On its clones have scribbled Nobel Laureates, U.N. delegates, educators, physicians, artists, students, politicians, inventors, scientists, poets and ponderers from many walks of life. It’s just a prop, a cosmic swerve, a silly prompt for exploration and celebration of the fertile home territory of learning. (Ann Kerwin)


Ann KerwinHomepageCV

Ann KerwinNone Too Solid. Medical Ignorance. Knowledge: Creation, Diffusion, Utilization 15 (December 1993) 2: 166–185.

Our ignorance encompasses, at least, all the things we know we do not know (known unknowns); all the things we do not know we do not know (unknown unknowns); all the things we think we know but do not (error); all the things we do not know we know (tacit knowing); all taboos (forbidden knowledge); and all denial (things to painful to know, so we suppress them). Medical ignorance seems especially threatening to many of us. If, however, we are to cope with our vast ignorance of the human body, its powers and processes, we must learn to acknowledge our nescience and optimize it. To do so, we need to rethink the nature and interrelations between knowledge and ignorance. We need to expand our capacities for self-learning and refine abilities to map our complex experience.

Ann KerwinOn no other planet. 2 essays, 47 pages.

MORE in source: Taxonomies of the unknown [Andreas’ Notes]