An unknown unknown is knowledge that you don't know exists that would be useful to you. This is potentially a dangerous situation as you can't incorporate this unknown information in decision making or prepare to research it. The following are hypothetical examples.An investor who is completely unaware of business cycles buys a stock that is in a cyclical industry that is near the end of its business cycle.---A swimmer who is unaware that rip currents exist goes swimming at a beach with a strong rip current.---A firm purchases a predictive analytics tool and begins to use it without any awareness of data science or statistical analysis.
Known UnknownsKnowing that you don't know something is useful information that can be used in decision making or as a starting point for research. For example, a swimmer who knows that riptides exist but can't remember how they work or how to escape them may be cautious at a new beach with large waves.
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