I'm delighted to announce a new membership organization: ExplanationScience.org. We're pioneering a new field: The 'science of explaining'. Our slogan says "Explaining is one of the most important things people do, so we're giving it the attention it deserves." We believe that people must do a better job of explaining evidence if evidence is going to make the biggest possible difference.
Case in point: Explaining mammogram guidelines. In recent hearings about the U.S. mammogram kerfuffle, the people responsible have said that the way they explained their recommendations was at the heart of the problem. (I wrote about the task force recently - the guidelines should have been a step forward for evidence-based medicine, though sadly it's not working out that way.) From the testimony of Diana B. Petitti [pdf]: "[Physician reviewers} expressed concern that the wording of the language... would be misunderstood by clinicians, patients, policy makers, and insurers. The Task Force recognizes now the wisdom of [their] advice. The communication... was poor. Our message was misunderstood. [However] the Task Force stands behind the evidence and the conclusions based on the evidence."
Join us (it's free!). These are early days, so our community site and membership signup process isn't yet completed. To be included on the preliminary ExplanationScience.org mailing list, please send your name, location, and work email address to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll keep you posted on new developments.
On his blog, Evidence-Based Management | Skeptical Thinking, Richard Puyt interviewed me about Explanation Science. An excerpt:
Richard: So Tracy, why did you start this community?
Me: "I started ExplanationScience.org after years of observing (and obsessing over) how people develop, communicate, and apply evidence when they want to make change happen. I realized that although evidence matters a great deal, how we explain that evidence is equally important.... Explaining is one of the most important things people do, but it hasn't received specific management attention or R&D focus. 'Explaining' can happen anywhere, and can be done by anyone: When we are problem-solving, debating/arguing, teaching, discussing results with investors or stakeholders, announcing research findings, selling products, etc.
"It's a place [to] find innovative ways to develop valid explanatory information, or find better ways to present a persuasive explanation. For several years, I've been an outspoken advocate for processes and technologies that enable evidence-based management. I see [this effort] as complementary to initiatives supporting 'evidence-based _____'. If we can help people gather better explanatory information, and help them provide better explanations, then we can help them drive wider adoption of evidence-based management methodologies."
Richard: Who participates in the community?
Me: "We welcome people from all walks of life who want to do a better job of
explaining, and better understand what belongs in a ‘good’ explanation.
People who are asking questions like:
- What information do we need to explain customer buying behavior?
- What techniques are best for explaining a particular health outcome or environmental impact?
- Which technologies are best for presenting explanations, or searching for them?
"We offer an opportunity to contribute to the development of a new field: The 'science of explaining'. People with fresh ideas can make a real difference by joining our group. We're providing a place to demonstrate expertise and share experiences on an important topic. We'll provide numerous ways to participate: Leading (or contributing
to) online conversations and organized debates. Publishing applied research. Speaking at conferences. Contributing to a knowledge base. Showcasing technologies."
Go here to read the entire interview. Thanks, Richard.
Want to figure out better ways to explain the evidence? To be included on the preliminary ExplanationScience.org mailing list, please send your name, location, and work email to email@example.com and we’ll keep you posted on new developments.
Follow us: We are @ExplanationSci on Twitter.