Research Plan - Weekly Reports

Every Sunday, a weekly meeting of Thwink's Core Group takes place, in which we report on the progress of the past week, and the goals for the next one (see the past agendas here).

For the last 5 weeks, I have been reporting on the progress of the Research Plan for the "Raise Political Truth Literacy" Project, which has been my main focus.

In this thread I publish the notes I used to report on the Research Plan, serving also as a documentation of the project's progress. The documents are written in a rather informal style, and minor errors can be expected (they're my personal notes), but overall it helps to understand the workflow in greater detail.
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Jack Harich

Staff member
Hi Montserrat!

I wasn't sure about the best place to put this so I put it here. The subject relates to our Research Plan. It's out of date and we have only two more months of your being in Atlanta. Here are my thoughts on the issues so you can mull them over, integrate them with your thoughts, and then when we get together on you return we can come up with a good over all plan.

A. There are two main strategies to consider. The first is personal productivity. We need to accelerate our productivity radically. One way would be to work together the first few hours of every day, advancing the project by working closely together on various tasks. We could start at 9:30AM every day. After a few hours we could take a lunch break, chat, and then I leave. Or I stay a bit longer if that's appropriate. We can let this evolve and see what works best.

As part of this strategy we will both be reading the book The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA, by James Watson, 1968. This is widely considered to be the best book length first person account of a major modern scientific discovery in print. There's a lot we can learn from it. This of course is my Christmas present to you! We can read a little of the same pages every day and discuss them, especially productivity insights.

After that we can move into the second book The Quantum Labyrinth: How Richard Feynman and John Wheeler Revolutionized Time and Reality, by Paul Halpern, 2018. This just came out. It looks fantastically well written and appropriate for us. We also read the same sections every day and discuss them.

Maybe you have ideas for more books or articles!

B. The second strategy deals with project management. Here we list our projects, define the key milestones that must be met before you leave (this means how much of the project needs to be completed), and then figure out how to do that. The projects, in approximate sequence, seem to be:
  1. How to set the TL of facts.
  2. Study 1, set the TL of facts, run until accurate enough.
  3. Study 2, claim-checks, run until accurate enough.
  4. Paper 1, based on the two studies. (Project 1 to 4 must be in this order.)
  5. Learning the main Thwink tools: RCA, SIP, system dynamics modeling.
  6. Creating a solid initial foundation for the UN Millennium Development Goals long-term research project. Here we begin to apply the tools (which helps to learn them) and make some of the major structural decisions, like how to structure the analysis and the long-term project. Hopefully a few deep insights will emerge and give us (and others) confidence that we are on the right track.
Achieving the first few key milestones of these projects in two months is ambitious. But with the right approach, and working with our great advisors (Scott, William, George, etc), I thwink we can do it. It's pretty amazing what people can do in a short amount of time when motivated and the work is well planned, including removal or anticipation of roadblocks.

Here are a few issues to consider:

C. Would it help to work on any projects simultaneously? Or is best to keep it simple and more focused by working on one project at time?

D. Related to C, Jack can do a preliminary version of Study 2 to work out the kinks and make the study go smoother and faster while Montserrat is working on "How to set the TL of facts." This Preliminary Study 2 is not on the above list of projects.

I’ve been hesitating on doing this because it would probably take me right into figuring out a protocol for “How to set the TL of facts.” I don’t want to do this. I want to give Montserrat space and let her make the discoveries here. They may be small. But I suspect they are probably big, big enough for a paper in itself. They may even be huge!

But now that we are trying to accelerate all the projects, it may be best for Jack to go ahead and do a preliminary version of Study 2. If done while working right beside Montserrat, she could get involved whenever I get into figuring out “How to set the TL of facts.” It's possible that since "necessity is the mother of invention", we may find that jumping in and figuring out how to set the TL of facts as we go works. We use the power of necessity and knowledge evolution to drive discovery of solving the problem of "How to set the TL of facts."

Well, those are my thoughts. I'm sure you have bunch of thoughts yourself!