Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date



Starting with the Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom paradigm in information science it is possible to derive a model of the opposite of knowledge having hierarchical qualities. A range of counterpoints to concepts in the knowledge hierarchy can be identified and ascribed the overall term “nonknowledge.” This model creates a conceptual framework for understanding the connections between topics such as error, ignorance, stupidity, folly, popular misconceptions, and unreason by locating them as levels or phases of nonknowledge. The concept of nonknowledge links heretofore disconnected discourses on these individual topics by philosophers, psychologists, historians, sociologists, satirists, and others. Subject headings provide access to the categories of nonknowledge, but confusion remains due to the general failure of cataloging and classification to differentiate between works about nonknowledge and examples of nonknowledge.


This work was originally published in Knowledge Organization, available at



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.