Three kinds of questions for scientific knowledge - Deepstash

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Three kinds of questions for scientific knowledge

When communicating scientific knowledge to policymakers and the public, there are three levels of questions:

  • Level-one questions: Anyone with even modest expertise or access to a search engine can answer these questions. For example, 'Will price controls cause shortages?'
  • Level-two questions: Only the most qualified experts, within existing paradigms of scholarly knowledge, have something to say. For example, 'Can we design algorithms to assign medical residents to programmes in an effective way?'
  • Level-three questions: Even the experts don't know the answers, such as what interest rates will be in two years.

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MORE IDEAS FROM THE SAME ARTICLE

  • Ask different experts different questions. Rather than asking experts: "Will this drug work?', ask some of them, "Is there good evidence about whether the drug will work?" Qualified experts won't always know the answer to the first problem, but will know the answer to the l...

The rise of social media means that experts willing to share their knowledge are more accessible to the public. One might think that communication between experts and decision-makers should be very good. But this is not the case.

Outlets are flooded with self-appoi...

Knowing which questions fall into which category requires expertise. Politicians and executives might be experts in the area of decision-making, but they are seldom experts in the areas where they make decisions.

When there are decisions that require an expert perspective,...

Real experts are often confident in their claims, but in the private market, the opposite can be more common.

  • Self-appointed experts want airtime and overstate their conclusions.
  • Actual experts want to draw attention to their work. They may ...

  • When experts and pundits don't acknowledge that they don't know, it can lead to bad decisions.
  • When uncertainty is admitted with a level-two problem, qualified experts' advice can get lost in the noise, or decision-makers might ask the wrong experts.
  • When...

True expertise means knowing the limits of one's knowledge.

Institutions can be designed to encourage real experts to admit uncertainty. The key lies in whether the question was answerable in the first place. Good experts should be willing to say they don'...

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