Three kinds of questions for scientific knowledge - Deepstash





Real experts know what they don’t know and we should value it | Aeon Essays

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.





It is understood as a longing for something long gone by, with a desire to relive the time, combined with a certain sadness while reminiscing about the particular life event.

Nostalgia and Feeling Homesick

Swiss physician Johannes Hofer referred to nostalgia as a kind of homesickness, a desire to return to the beautiful, simpler times.

The feelings of nostalgia were usually melancholia, anxiety, and rumination. It was made into a neurological illness, which was related to the geographical location of the person longing for home.

Evolution of The Meaning of Nostalgia
  • Nostalgia was considered by the early 20th century a psychiatric illness caused by some traumatic experience of childhood. It had three components, cognitive, affective and conative.
  • The cognitive part remembered old memories of the self, while the affective part was a sad emotion, finally moving towards a desire to return home(conative).
  • Nostalgia is neither a pathological state and nor is it necessarily beneficial. What we can think, remember or imagine, is not bound to be real or factual.
Social Physics
Social Physics

Psychohistory is a fictional way to predict the future of humanity, using mathematical techniques.

Applying maths on human behaviour was initiated by Adolphe Quételet in the 19th centur...


This is an invaluable tool for the fields of biology, medicine, economics, arts and humanities and the administrative services of the government.

Statistics provides useful tools, but those calculations and assumptions are based on certain constants that can lead to serious mistakes if taken too literally or applied to a large size. These calculations provide usable figures in a ‘quick and dirty’ way.

Adolphe Quételet's Estimations

Quételet, the mathematician turned astronomer who was performing social physics miracles as the central figure of Belgium science, got better in his game by learning probability theory and making use of his polymath brain. His work included estimations and calculations using the available data and his mathematical and statistical skills. Instead of counting everyone to know the population, Quételet used some reasonable estimates and then multiplied the number of births per year with the ratio of the total population to the annual births.

The new methodology was published in Quételet’s books in the 19th century, like Social Physics (1835) and its newer editions, and caught the imagination of the public. Concepts like the Average Man and the Bell Curve (a normal probability of distribution) simplified complex statistics and made it accessible to the world while being easily quotable and comparable.