Known unknowns: How to communicate certainly in an uncertain world

“From the speed of global warming to the likelihood of developing cancer, we must grasp uncertainty to understand the world. Here’s how to know your unknowns” By Anne Marthe van der Bles, New Scientist, 3rd July 2019

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24332372-600-known-unknowns-how-to-communicate-certainly-in-an-uncertain-world/

The above reminds me of the philosophers’ demands in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: “We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!” The philosophers were representatives of the Amalgamated Union of Philosophers, Sages, Luminaries and Other Thinking Persons and they wanted the universe’s second-best computer (Deep Thought) turned off, because of a demarcation dispute/.  It turns out, according to the above paper, that their demands were not so unreasonable after all :-)

The surprising usefulness of simple measures: HappyOrNot terminals

as described in this very readable article by David Owen:
Customer Satisfaction at the Push of  a Button – HappyOrNot terminals look simple, but the information they gather is revelatory. New Yorker, 2 February 2018, pages 26-29

Read the full article here

Points of interest covered by the article include:

  1. What is so good about them
  2. Why they work so well
  3. Can people “game” the data that is collected
  4. The value of immediacy of data collection
  5. How value is added to data points by information about location and time
  6. Example of real life large scale applications
  7. What is the worse thing that could happen

Other articles on the same subject:

Rick Davies comment: I like the design of the simple experiment described in the first para of this article. Because the locations of the petrol stations were different, and thus not comparable, the managers swapped the “treatment” given to each station i.e the staff they thought were making a difference to the performance of these stations.