Catalyzing a movement toward better sense-making
The Consilience Project is a non-profit media organization that aims to catalyze a cultural movement toward higher quality sense-making and dialogue â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the essential foundations of a functional democratic society.
Our ability to make sense of the world is eroding In the last 20 years the internet and social media have radically transformed and fragmented the media landscape. This fragmentation has eroded our democracy by removing any sense of a shared source of truth, and, with it, faith in the idea of a free and unbiased press. Our ability to collectively make sense of our shared challenges, or work together toward solutions, is rapidly diminishing.
We are living on the battlefield of an information war. State and non-state actors intentionally pollute the information ecology with the intent to influence & disinform.
Social media is increasingly effectively used to influence public opinion toward the goals of the influencer â&#x20AC;&#x201D; even if the goal is to create chaos and confusion.
Journalism is susceptible to, and often shaped by, the interests of state and non-state actors attempting to influence behavior and public narrative.
Even academic research published in respected journals is subject to distortion from the interests of the funders and individual researchers.
The Existential Threat
It is cheap and easy to influence, deceive, and sow confusion in target populations. Â
The Existential Threat
As our media landscape has deteriorated, modern warfare has transformed.
Current attempts to address these challenges are insufficient. These approaches are fragmented, not focused on education, and don’t measure outcomes, and not focused on growing a movement.
Focuses on delivering “facts,” but doesn’t educate readers on how the information was assessed, or how the reader can improve their own sense-making.
Often validates the assumptions of the reader, are themselves vulnerable to bias, and they do not educate their readers better to assess information.
There are many podcasts, videos, researchers, reporters trying to raise awareness about mis/disinformation. Many are themselves biased, and none seek to provide a base from which to support and grow the nascent movement for better sense-making.
The Consilience Project will address these threats. In science and history, consilience is the principle that evidence from independent, unrelated sources can "converge" on strong conclusions. That is, when multiple sources of evidence are in agreement, the conclusion can be very strong â&#x20AC;&#x201D; even when none of the individual sources of evidence is significantly so on its own.
Two Core Strategies
The Consilience Project combines two core strategies to achieve our goals: Remarkable, Novel Education
A Catalyzed Movement
We create novel educational content to help improve the sense-making of our readers and the media landscape as a whole.
We attract, identify, and resource high-leverage sense-making initiatives and build a movement toward their wider adoption.
1. Build trust & inquiry through novel education. We deliver news, assess the media landscape, and teach better information processing:
Social media is increasingly effectively A novel form used of News to influence aimed at public providing opinion maximum towardsituational the goals awareness of the and influencer insight — on the even mostifconsequential the goal is to create topics, as chaos clearlyand as possible, confusion. with a rigorous process — not just for accuracy but also for bias correction.
Journalism is susceptible to, Sense-making about what’s and often shaped by, the happening in the media interests of state and nonlandscape itself — particularly state actors attempting to where there are highly polarized influence behavior and narratives publictrending narrative.in consequential ways.
Even science journals are Education in media literacy, often distorted by the goals civics, and critical sense-making of funders, studies, or skills to ambitions help people career ofbecome better equipped to notice and individual scientists. be more resilient to misinformation, propaganda, and biased narratives, and more capable of making sense of complex topics.
We provide weekly situational assessments & long form analysis.
Consilience “shows our work.” We will host discussions of how we assess the confidence in our conclusions, giving readers context for the information we share, while demonstrating how we arrived at our assessment of a given source or story. To help readers become better sense-makers, we identify and define narrative weapons deployed by differing sources on the same events. We also cover “Meta-news” by reporting on what is happening in the broader information ecology – and why. Through both written pieces and videos, we will also show how different news and information sources use persuasion, misinformation, and omission to advance specific agendas in the context of specific timely examples.
We create & distribute conversations that model better inquiry.
Real-time Sense-making Dialogues
Different than a “debate” or “Crossfire” style program that represents two or more perspectives each trying to convince viewers one is “right” and the others are “wrong,” we will produce videos featuring global experts on timely issues and topics engaging in conversations about what is known about specific topics – and what is at the edge of their own knowledge. We will feature experts who have a real depth of knowledge in a given domain and hold differing opinions; we will explore the unknowns in the field to surface why the experts disagree. This will help viewers understand the process of knowledge creation, and help them become better sensemakers and communicators.
2. Catalyze & accelerate an emerging movement. We incentivize novel projects, amplify innovations and important inquiries, and equip our community with tools for better sense-making:
Social media is increasingly effectively We will offer used Innovation to influence Prizes public for well-designed opinion toward projects the goals addressing of the influencer any aspect â&#x20AC;&#x201D; of even improving if the goal public is to sense-making create chaos and dialogue and confusion. to facilitate traction for many projects that can collectively support the cultural renaissance needed.
Journalism is susceptible to, We will andbuild oftencurated shaped by, the sensemaking-focused forums interests of state and nonwhere experts and people with state actors attempting to deepinfluence knowledge are engaged behavior and in goodpublic faith processes narrative. to generate shared understanding and insight of important topics.
Even science journals are We willdistorted offer curated often by the goals resources ofstudies, the bestor of funders, publicly available research career ambitions of tools, data sets, news individual scientists. sources, fact and bias checking sites, and educational resources.
This movement needs a home, a center of gravity.
Convening, Networking, Amplifying
To catalyze the movement, we are creating an environment to attract, vet, and support the most meaningful endeavors related to the various parts of this space in order to: • Develop content that can serve as an attractor to the most earnest and capable sense makers, as well as represent an open-source template for what news and public education could be. • Amplify the work of people and organizations already doing high quality sense-making. • Play a convening, networking, and educational role for organizations trying to improve their own institutional epistemics. • Host innovation prizes for projects working to improve various aspects of the information commons.
We learn and adapt by listening to our audience.
We will create a digital environment that facilitates high quality collective intelligence development, in order to gather the best and most earnest thinkers into a new cultural group from which we expect many positive projects will emerge. These forums will utilize novel mechanisms to encourage constructive dialogue â&#x20AC;&#x201C; such as requiring users to provide proof that they have read and understood an article before unlocking the ability to comment. The quality of commentary and discussion on our site will over time become a major differentiator and help teach constructive dialogue and disagreement.
Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re already moving. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve assembled a world class team & convened the global leadership needed to deliver success.
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The Consilience Project aims to catalyze what we see as a nascent but not yet recognized movement. Awareness of the degraded state of our information commons, and the serious consequences that result, is growing. â&#x20AC;¨ Following this growing awareness are many new initiatives aimed at addressing various parts of the problem â&#x20AC;&#x201D; everything from improving civics education for high school aged students, to addressing perverse incentives in journalism, to mitigating social media algorithm bias, to automated factchecking tools. These diverse topics aren't yet recognized as part of a shared movement. We will help catalyze that awareness and the traction of all related projects.
Trustworthiness in the integrity of our mission is essential to this project. That is why we commit to not taking donations that include any editorial influence, neither will we collect revenue for products, content, or services of any kind.Â We are putting a 5 year time-limit on this project in order to place our focus on achieving real-world outcomes while guarding against the reality or the perception of perverse incentives. We do not intend to build an enduring media organization, but to catalyze a movement toward better sense-making. Our long-term influence will be measured by the impact we have on leaders, citizens, and the existing publications and actors across the media landscape.
Catalyzing a movement toward better sense-making