Geoffrey Wheatcroft writes in the New York Times:
Could there be a single phrase that explains the woes of our time, this dismal age of political miscalculations and deceptions, of reckless and disastrous wars, of financial boom and bust and downright criminality? Maybe there is, and we owe it to Fintan O’Toole. That trenchant Irish commentator is a biographer and theater critic, and a critic also of his country’s crimes and follies, as in his gripping if horrifying book, Ship of Fools: How Stupidity and Corruption Sank the Celtic Tiger.
He reminds us of the famous if gnomic saying by Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the United States secretary of defense, that “There are known knowns… there are known unknowns … there are also unknown unknowns.” But the Irish problem, says Mr. O’Toole, was none of the above. It was “unknown knowns.”
What he means is something different from denial, or evasion, irrational exuberance or excess optimism.