I'm currently writing an essay for a school assignment. My teacher's—and Google's—answers as to where to find examples of real life situations and counter-arguments to support my arguments in an essay has not been adequate.

An example of one of the claims I have made in my essay is "Knowledge’s ability to be quantified is relative to the definition knowledge is given". I do not seek arguments to support this claim but rather how the process of finding real life situations (such as a study, etc.) to support my claims or a counter-example to show critical thinking is done. I've tried to find them, but I simply do not know where to start.

3 Answers 3


There's no shortcut for this kind of research --believe me, I worked for years to find one! The first thing to try is just google your main keywords, and see if any reputable research comes up. Sometimes someone just happened to study what you're looking for. That's a bit of a long shot, however.

Your next best bet is to see if you can trace back where you got the idea from, and what convinces you it is true. Then try googling those topics. Wikipedia is often a great place to start, although you never want to cite Wikipedia, use the sources Wikipedia refers to instead. Often times, once you set your mind to it, you can find an article, book or opinion piece that has your general claim in it. Then trace the sources they cite to build more support or narrow in on your specific idea.

If you still can't find anything, you're making a claim that you have no empirical support for. It might be true, but it's probably not a claim you should be making in a paper like this.


I think you need logic to support that claim, it is not the type of thing that can be studied. (Or you might find that kind of logic in academic philosophy.)

The logic is, you find it self-evident [requires no proof] that to quantify anything requires a method of measurement that consistently returns a unique position on a scale of possible values (or a tight range of values with minor measurement errors allowed). *['consistently' because it cannot give random values if the person and test conditions remain the same, e.g. an IQ test with randomized questions that returns 180 on Monday and 95 on Tuesday, for the same person under nearly identical conditions, is useless; no decisions should be made based upon such a test.]

Therefore to quantify 'knowledge', we need to define a scale of possible values and devise a method of measurement for knowledge.

That in turn logically demands a definition of what we mean by knowledge that constrains what we test to the consistently quantifiable.

Examples of what would be difficult to quantify is 'knowing what it is like to be in love.' On the other hand, it would be easier to devise tests, with experts, to quantify 'knowing how to play the piano'.

A more nuanced example might be 'Knowing the history of France.' Nobody can know the entire history of France and everybody that has lived there and what they have done. So in that sense, knowing the history of France is unquantifiable; a Frenchman may know enough facts about the history of his own family tree to fill several books, while knowing nothing of the political, economic, social or technological history of France. But if we define knowledge of the history of France to consist of the political history, we can devise a test to see what people know, and quantify this knowledge in that way.


Maybe your own level of abstact language is confusing you?

What you are saying is that when you want to measure ("quantify") something, you need to know what it is that you want to measure ("definition given"). To substantiate that claim, you can now research both theory of measurement and theory of definition.

But I would say that this statement is so commonsense that it needs no citation – after all, how would you measure something if you didn't know what you were measuring.

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