social, health, political imagery through the lens of George J Huba PhD © 2012-2017

I spent years and years of my professional life being trained in, developing, and applying deductive reasoning. I was taught that the random assignment experiment is the gold standard for science. I’ve seen an entire important field in psychology (social psychology) trivialized and made irrelevant by forcing random assignments and rigid instrumentation into trying to explain synergistic and nonlinear social behaviors (after all what is psychology if not a field of the interactions among people as they progress in a nonlinear way, sometimes forward, sometimes back). The complexity of human cognition has been studied in a superficially simple way by random experiments (primarily with samples of college students).

I do, of course, realize that my position is neither the majority one, nor very popular at all among most academic psychologists, although a few will agree with me (especially those who study diagnostic categories and how programs work in situations where random assignment to service is idiotic and not possible anyway as staff will not withhold what they believe is the most effective interventions from clients).

Who is right and who is wrong? I dunno. We do know which camp writes the most in their beloved peer-reviewed (by their like-minded colleagues) journals.

Recently I have been thinking about which type of mind map might be most appropriate for the different types of scientific method. I have been influenced heavily in my thinking by Roy Grubb, an IT consultant in Hong Kong with an encyclopedic knowledge of methods of visualizing and using information with hundreds of programs that he has studied over 30 years; Hans Buskes, a management consultant  in the Netherlands who has extensive experience in mapping innovative ideas with what a I would term a “semi-organic” approach, and Chris Griffiths in the United Kingdom, whose company ThinkBuzan produces the program iMindMap incorporating what I would term the neo-Buzan organic mind map style.

I would categorize mind maps along a continuum from very linear to the extend that they can effectively be formatted outlines with text snippets and at the other pole, very organic with the extensive use of twists and turns, color, graphics (most cartoon-like), fonts, and other methods to motivate creative approaches and multi-channel memory encoding. The organic approach can be very nonlinear in content, as well as appearance.

Here is a mind map contrasting deductive with inductive reasoning methods in various fields of science, of which my own reference is to psychology and medicine-healthcare. While the left side of the map is about deductive reasoning and is drawn as such and the right side is about inductive reasoning, the overall style of the map is organic. Note that the inductive side gets the “full organic treatment” with font variations, size variations, and a number of cartoons designed to spark associations and multi-channel memory. The left (deductive) side has organic branches by none of the embellishments that are part of the style. This map was produced in Version 6.1 of the iMindMap program.

Figure 1: “Organic Style”

Figure 1a is the same as Figure 1 but printed in 3D style.

The second figure has the same content as Figure 1 but a linear style. I simply converted the model within iMindMap by changing the line style, getting ride of color and font variations, and removing the graphics. I consider this to be a “semi-linear” model; to be fully linear one would also rewrite the text to have longer labels along the branches and many more text boxes for citations, supplementary figures, and other information in a format similar to that of a peer-reviewed science journal.

Figure 2: “Semi-linear Style”

The third version takes the organic map, converts it into a format that can be read by the program XMind, and simply redraws it using the defaults. XMind is derived from some of the earliest open source code and has a very common linear format characteristic of a high percentage of mind map programs including the market leading Mindjet.

Figure 3: Linear Style Using XMind Program Derived from Open Source Code

I came into organic mind mapping a few years ago because I had concluded that maps that look like those of Figure 3 are really just reformatted outlines and the formatting adds little except white space to the presentation. Figures 1a and 1b are more than reformatted outlines; they encourage new associations, multi-channel information encoding, and more attention to the structure.

I’m not very attracted to factory grown/raised  vegetables or chickens either. I think I will start to label my mind maps with this …


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