WHEN COMPLEXITY, CHAOS AND CONTRADICTIONS COME TOGETHER AND PNT EMERGES, THERE IS – NOT SURPRISINGLY – A SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT OF IGNORANCE AND UNCERTAINTY.
The most basic variety of uncertainty emerges when the direction of change is known but the magnitude and probability of events and consequences cannot be estimated. Surface uncertainty, as we call it, can be managed to some degree, but it usually conceals more than it reveals. Below the surface level, one might find that the direction of change is unknown and nothing can be said about the potential consequences that result from the convergence of complexity, chaos and contradictions. Shallow Uncertainty cannot be managed, and its power is often underestimated—one can easily be swept out to sea even in shallow waters. Finally, beyond the surface and shallow levels, one finds Deep Uncertainty, a space where nothing is known and cannot be known because it lies beyond our worldview—it is essentially the Unthought: a space where questions remain. To this day, we know more about space than the deepest parts of the ocean. This is not to say that it is unthinkable or even unknowable, but at this deep level one must find alternative models of inquiry and analysis to confront uncertainty.
In PNT theory, uncertainty is interconnected with ignorance. At the plain level, one finds a lack of factual knowledge—misunderstandings of other cultures, worldviews, and ways of living that leads to fear and loathing of others, contradictory demands for global resources, and a lack of concern for other people’s basic needs: Plain Ignorance.
BEYOND PLAIN IGNORANCE, ONE FINDS A VINCIBLE TYPE OF IGNORANCE THAT IS AN IMPLICIT PRODUCT OF THE FUTURE DIMENSIONS OF MANY PROBLEMS AND ISSUES WE FACE WHOSE POTENTIAL ANSWERS AND SOLUTIONS CAN ONLY BE DISCOVERED IN SOME FUTURE TIME.
Forward-looking learning and developing a sense of futures literacy is essential to deal with vincible ignorance. Finally, at the deepest level, one must confront Invincible Ignorance, which is the outcome of the Unthought—things we have never thought about because they are outside the framework of our basic assumptions and axioms. At this level, we must unlearn that which keeps us in the dark, so to speak, while seeking out creative alternatives to re-frame our assumptions, biases, and prejudices. This layered approach to Uncertainty and Ignorance is an essential component of The Three Tomorrows method (3T) for exploring multiple and alternative futures. The method is available on the Essentials page.