All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Donald Rumsfeld - THE CATASTROPHIZER
 
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Errol Morris, the director of superb documentary films who has on more than one occasion invited deluded, unpleasant, and/or simply odd individuals to reveal themselves as deluded, unpleasant, and/or simply odd in front of a camera, writes a series of articles for The New York Times. I think he's a show-off.

In "
The Anosognosic's Dilemma: Something's Wring But You'll Never Know What It Is", Morris writes about the Dunning-Kruger Effect, which describes the effect created when "our incompetence masks our ability to recognize our incompetence." David Dunning, a professor of social psychology at Cornell, explains his theory by way of a man who is undoubtedly an intellectual touchstone for all Cornell professors: Donald Rumsfeld.

"Donald Rumsfeld gave this speech about 'unknown unknowns.' It goes something like this: 'There are things we know we know about terrorism. There are things we know we don't know. And there are things that are unknown unknowns. We don't know that we don't know.' He got a lot of grief for that. And I thought, 'That's the smartest and most modest thing I've heard in a year.'"

Stupid people are unaware that there is a very important unknown they don't know, namely, that they are stupid. A hallmark of intelligence, says Dunning, is "knowing that there are things you don't know that you don't know."

How should all of this be incorporated into the haunted thoughts of a catastrophizer? If an intelligent person knows there are things he might never realize he doesn't know, then a catastrophizer should be actively obsessed with the fact that there are things, probably really important things, that he will never know he doesn't know and that maybe he'll never know them because, let's be honest, he's actually pretty stupid.



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