You are naive

A friend of mine recently said “I decided to be naive” . My answer was “You are naive”.

Naivete is about knowing unknown unknowns. Unknown unknowns are things you don’t know, and you don’t know that you don’t know them.

The naive kid who touches fire doesn’t know heat exists, and it hurts. And the naive entrepreneur who starts a business doesn’t know how bad things could get until they do.

When we find out those unknown unknowns, we realize how naive we were when we didn’t know they might exist.

Naivete has two interesting characteristics: It is always present, but only realized in hindsight.

There are always unknown unknowns, and because they are unknown unknowns, we can’t find them out, because we don’t know what to search for. This is what makes naivete always present.

And when we realize the unknown unknowns, their state changes from unknown unknowns to a different state. Only then we realize how naive we “were”, which is why we can’t relize naivete in the present. This realization only happens in hindsight.

You might think standing still protects from your naivete by avoiding unknown unknowns. This is a common fallacy, because you might realize your inaction was a result of your naivete trying to avoid consequences that were only in your head. Again, another example of not knowing unknown unknowns.

I hope I could explain what’s on my head. It is a bit hard to wrap your head around it let alone writing it down.

What you don’t know that you don’t know?

  • Nader Elewa

    Love the article man.. great thoughts and writing, hope you’re doing awesome :).