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

Posts tagged Evaluation

Remember the “gold standard” research paradigm for determining if a medical treatment works: the DOUBLE BLIND, RANDOM ASSIGNMENT EXPERIMENT?

The design has historically been considered the best way to “prove” that new medical interventions work, especially if the experiment is replicated a number of times by different research teams. By the double blind (neither the treating medical team nor the patient know whether the patient is taking a placebo or active medication) design, investigators expect to negate the placebo effects caused by patient or medical staff beliefs that the “blue pill” is working.

A key part of virtually all double-blind research designs is the assumption that all patient expectations and reports are independent. This assumption is made because of the statistical requirements necessary to determine whether a drug has had a “significantly larger effect” as compared to a placebo. Making this assumption has been a “standard research design” feature since long before I was born more than 60 years ago.


Google the name of a new drug in clinical trials. You will find many (hundreds, thousands) of posts on blogs, bulletin boards for people with the conditions being treated with the experimental drug, and social media, especially Twitter and Facebook. Early in most clinical trials participants start to post and question one another about their presumed active treatment or placebo status and whether those who guess they are in the experimental condition think the drug is working or not. Since the treatments are of interest to many people world-wide who are not being treated with effective pharmaceuticals, the interest is much greater than just among those in the study.

Google the name of a new drug being suggested for the treatment of a rare or orphan disease that has had no effective treatments to date and you will find this phenomenon particularly prevalent for both patients and caregivers. Hope springs eternal (which it SHOULD) but it also can effect the research design. Obviously data that are “self reported” from patient or caregiver questionnaires can be affected by Internet “the guy in Wyoming says” or the caregiver of “the woman in Florida.”

OK you say, but medical laboratory tests and clinical observations will not be affected because these indices cannot be changed by patient belief they are in the experimental or placebo conditions. Hhmmm, Sam in Seattle just posted that he thinks that he in the experimental condition and that his “saved my life” treatment works especially well if you walk 90 minutes a day or take a specific diet supplement or have a berry-and-cream diet. Mary in Maine blogs the observation that her treatment is not working so she must be in the placebo condition and becomes very depressed and subsequently makes a lot of changes in her lifestyle, often forgetting to take the other medications she reported using daily before the placebo or experimental assignment was made.

Do we have research designs for the amount of research participant visible (blogs, tweets, bulletin boards) and invisible (email, phone) communication going on during a clinical trial? No. Does this communication make a difference in what the statistical tests of efficacy will report? Probably. And can we ever track the invisible communications going on by email? Note that patients who do not wish to disclose their medical status will be more likely to use “private” email than the public blog and bulletin board methods.

Want an example. Google davunetide. This was supposed to be a miracle drug for the very rare neurodegenerative condition PSP. The company (Allon) that developed the drug received huge tax incentives in the USA to potentially market an effective drug for a neglected condition. The company, of course, was well aware that after getting huge tax incentives to develop the pharmaceutical, if the drug were to prove effective in reducing cognitive problems (as was thought), it would then be used with the much more common (and lucrative from the standpoint of Big Pharma) neurodegenerative disorders (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s) and schizophrenia.

Patients scrambled to get into the trial because an experimental medication was better than no medication (as was assumed, although not necessarily true) and the odds were 50/50 of getting the active pills.

Patients and caregivers communicated for more than a year, with the conversations involving patients from around the world. In my opinion, the communications probably increased the placebo effect, although I have no data nor statistical tests of “prove” this and it is pure conjecture on my part.

The trial failed miserably. Interestingly, within a few weeks after announcing the results, the senior investigators who developed and tested the treatment had left the employ of Allon. Immediately after the release of the results, clinical trial participants (the caregivers more than the patients) started trading stories on the Internet.

Time for getting our thinking hats on. I worked on methodological problems like this for 30+ years, and I have no solution, nor do I think this problem is going to be solved by any individual. Teams of #medical, #behavioral, #communication, and #statistical professionals need to be formed if we want to be able to accurately assess the effects of a new medication.

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Clinical Trial  Double-Blind  Treatment Evaluation  in the Era of the Internet

This mind map was originally prepared in MindManager in the late 2001 for an evaluation of an initiative to increase the capacity of US Nursing Schools to meet the need for graduate-trained gerontological/geriatric nurses. I spent 10 minutes running the original file through iThoughtsX to add some color hues.

This was an evaluation of an important initiative funded by the John A Hartford Foundation (Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity).

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A few thoughts about the importance of knowing the theories and prior studies in the content area of the modeling and data collection and data analysis and generation of conclusions.

You can’t model data without knowing what the data mean.

Click on mind map to expand.

Data Scientist

We have had many data science fields in the past 50 years. Among others, the fields include applied statistics, biostatistics, psychometrics, quantitative psychology, econometrics, sociometrics, epidemiology, and many others. The new emphasis on data science ignores content knowledge about the data and their limitations and the permissible conclusions.

We do not need to replace a round wheel with a square one.

See also previous post on Big Data/Data Science adopting the mistakes of Big Pharma.

a HubaMap™ by g j huba phd

Dec 13 2013: I have been experimenting with some formatting. This is the same map content as above, but using iMindMap 7 which was recently released.

Data Scientist sketch

Since I first posted this 8 hours ago, my colleague Dr Hans Buskes (@hansbuskes) has been sending me various design questions and suggestions. I added a paragraph at the bottom in blue to clarify issues about controlling for mapping style. The addition is about 8 hours after the original post.

Yesterday, I posted on research designs and data and showing the effectiveness of mind maps. Here are some research questions I would like to see answered to “prove” the effectiveness of mind mapping in certain applications and how the degree of effectiveness may be tied to different models of mind mapping. A lot of discussion about the topic was started and continues on twitter.

This is a DRAFT because I would I like to see others add to my list and or make the questions better. Please add any additional research areas or other comments to this list.

I will not be involved in any mind map research myself. So this is not a self-serving list. Feel free to make it your own if you are going to do the work. I would personally accept good quantitative, qualitative, or mixed quantitative-qualitative research/evaluation data and study designs in making a judgment of degree of efficacy.

I am NOT talking about anecdotal or theoretical evidence or that based upon expert judgments. Nor am I talking about “user satisfaction” with various programs or seminars they attend. I AM talking about studies that pass the tests of scientific inquiry AND the “smell test” of reasonableness and relevance AND empirically assess the major outcomes the mind maps are designed to enhance.

If you need to see this list in a mind map format, I may add one later. Or draw one for yourself using your favorite method.

Note: you need not try to answer all of my questions in one study. Study something small if your want. A technique called meta-analysis that will combine the results of numerous studies, small and big, exists.

I invite anyone to answer some of my questions. I believe the methods do-will prove effective AND the research will pass the standards of PEER REVIEWED SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY. Feel free to make me look smart.

  1. Is the best of typology mind maps, in terms of features, theoretical basis, designs that of a) organic Buzan-type; b) linear business-type (Mindjet and others); c) a miscellaneous category of spider-maps, concept maps, and other techniques often used to produce “mind maps?” If not, produce one.
  2. Are each of the types of mind maps effective in producing increases in learning new information, retaining information in long-term memory, sparking creativity in individuals and groups, communicating to groups visually, increasing the effectiveness of verbal communications, allowing individuals to “write” with conceptual trees, providing better understanding of concepts?
  3. Are some of the methods better for some applications while others prove more effective for other types?
  4. Does an extant theory from cognitive psychology/neuroscience explain the results?
  5. How can existing methods be enhanced using information gained in the series of research studies?

Addition: Covariates — In the set of questions above I have not addressed the natural variations in mind maps that occur because of the way that the maps are stylistically designed. Because such design issues tend to be correlated with the content of the map, I would propose handling such issues as covariates within a research design. So, in addition to the questions above we should ask how the answers to the questions above are related to the map’s structure, ordering, colors, visuals, symtax/semantics, size, and content information elaboration. Note that Dr Buskes and I have discussed this for many weeks and that there are a number of posts on both of our blogs about these topics. Because we would be evaluating an intact whole cognitive element (an entire map), it would be important to “control” for such factors as size, color use, etc., at the same time these factors are studied in conjunction with major models as specified above.

Let’s be honest, there is not enough empirical, hard scientific evidence that mind map based learning programs are as effective as there should be. In fact there is FAR less evidence to support efficacy claims about mind mapping than there should be. This has to be fixed.

Before the mind mappers start cursing me out, put this into context — I strongly support mind mapping and think it should be used far more than it is But I cannot find specific studies that strongly support efficacy.

Don’t flip the channel yet … I am now going to give you the most valuable free consulting I have ever provided anyone.

A few studies give people some training into “who knows what” mind mapping and see if they remember or “learn who knows what” better. Creativity is not measured, communication is not measured, long-term efficacy is not measured, training clinical practice efficacy is not measured, and many other aspects of cognitive enhancement claimed are not measured. Still, I believe that mind mapping is useful for most of these things and mind mapping works.

Now “prove” it.

Here is the biggest reason why mind mapping has not been shown to work in anything approaching a “definitive” scientific study or unbiased evaluation — too many things are called “mind mapping” are all lumped together.

A strong research (evaluation) design includes the following factors.

a) Different things called mind mapping are compared. As I see it, there is are three major things called “mind mapping.” The first is Buzan-style organic mind mapping. My bias is to say that this will work best in most (but not all) applications, but I would like to see hard data that my observations are correct. The second style of mind mapping is that embraced by those who use Mindjet aka Mind Manager and comparable programs. Such a style seems to be preferred among business types, and I used Mindjet (formerly known as Mind Manager) for about 15-20 years with many different types of health- and social-care professionals. Then there are dozens of other methods and diagrams called “mind maps,” most of which probably could be called spider maps. I would clump all of these methods together although I do recognize that the category is very heterogeneous.

Addition to original post: Separating these three categories will almost certainly show that the three clusters of methods are not equally effective for all applications. Combining them together dilutes the effects of the first and second methods because the third is probably comprised of a number of less than effective methods.

b) The effects of mind mapping need to be maximized. That is, the participants learning mind mapping or being taught to read existing mind maps need to be trained by experts (and I mean real top-of-the-food-chain mind mapping instructors) in one of the three types of “mind mapping.” The instructor needs to be a “real pro” at this, not a teacher or consultant who has had minimal formal training in mind mapping. Random assignment of participants (subjects) to one of the three mind mapping conditions needs to be made.

c) A lot of before and after variables need to be measured like memory, creativity, ability to learn new materials, ability to increase upon prior knowledge, sophistication of information processing, and all of the other things people claim about mind mapping.

d) Then the data need to be analyzed for enhancements (or not) from mind mapping according in each of the three three dominant models. That is, there needs to be a study of the interactions of learning one of the three mind mapping models from an expert, type of application, and type of effects.

Show me a dozen studies that support mind mapping (with random assignment, large samples, and conducted by a neutral investigator in this highly competitive commercial area) and I will tell everyone it has been proven that mind mapping works for these 10 applications and not these 5 others and what the best kind of mind mind mapping is for achieving certain goals.

Show me even better and more complex studies and I will jump with glee that my own observations have been confirmed.

Or, if it doesn’t work, accept the fact that this is voodoo, a management-education-training fad, or just plain commercial exploitation. (I don’t believe it is any of these things but I also cannot say YET that science unequivocally understands mind mapping.)

You wanna make the big claims, get independent parties to test them in an unbiased way that meets the most rigid scientific-educational standards. The odds are you will be happy you did as will potential users and educator-trainers.

[If you are an education, psychology, neuroscience, or healthcare student there are a lot of good PhD dissertations to be written in this area.]

A few of my examples of using mind maps from around this blog/website.

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blank canvas  apps not  mind maps

Obvious  Answer comfort work 35 crazy computer saturday3 huba's laws of  mind mapping

iPad mailbox app Software  Rankings  Visual Links handdrawn

Irv Oii  est. 2012 small want

XM Evaluating Mind Maps with %22Expert Content%22 iMindMap5 MapUnited States Presidents Timeline Final

writing in mind map

I’ve asked myself which of my skills were the most important in a senior role providing consulting and executive leadership of a small (<30 employees) consulting firm. We specialized in evaluating healthcare and socialcare programs for high need, disenfranchised groups who are often excluded from health services. I do think, however, that these are general skills which fit about every content area for a senior consultant expected to make significant creative contributions to the client organization.

It is important to know that the skills and technique specified are designed to optimize the value of the work and not to maximize profit to the consultant. There are other processes one might use to maximize profit.

After my mind map, I included some notes I made about the topic as I was thinking it through.

The five mind map diagrams start at the most abstract level and then each unveils part of the map showing the full detail of that section. The final map is fully unveiled.

I’ve gotten the reaction “you must be lying to me, it can’t be that simple” when I have provided conclusions and advice to others. All the while my business partner was sitting in the meeting alternating between having a panic attack because I was giving away the company secrets and falling off the chair laughing because the recipient of the information did not know to enough to realize that it was very hard to not over-think, cut through the distractions, and get to the bottom line when nobody (including you) knows the answer to the questions asked.

It’s simple. Just build the confidence that you can always fill a blank page with a great answer and implementation plan, build a safety net to avoid a major mistake, and use successive approximation in a resource-limited environment. It took me a long time to figure all of this out. It’s hard but do-able.

Live long and prosper (going where no-one has dared to go before).

Please click on the image to zoom.


senior creative  consulting  2 skills and  1 technique



Appendix: Notes (from iPad)

two skills

blank paper

safety net

feedback circle

Another reprint from my 2008-2010 blog. We’ll just change the title a little to that given for this post.


… and, having planted that many wild flower seeds in 2009, there is no reason to plant any more; I just let the flowers reseed themselves naturally in the normal process of renewal and expansion.


My meadow.

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academia and  healthcare  big data



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it's program evaluation,  not research, dummy





There are a number of things that can be done to cut the cost of healthcare while, at the same time, freeing doctors and others to do their jobs better. These improvements cost almost nothing to implement [if all of the constituencies and politicians do not compete to be King Kong].

Visiting legislator who stumbled across this web page? Here’s your chance to act like a grown-up and represent the people of the world, not drug companies nor major research universities nor individual “researcher” egos and retirement funds.

Click on images to expand.[almost free] strategies to improve healthcare

Cartoon Rabbit - Giving A Thumbs Up


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The fictional detectives would have been great program evaluators. All looked at all types of data. Miss Marple was a model of pleasantry who could work her way into an organization or group and see it as it was without changing anything by observing. Holmes and Watson — whether in the original books and movies, the Ironman version of the movies, their current BBC incarnation in 21st Century London, or their CBS incarnation in 21st Century Manhattan with Dr John Watson now Dr Joan Watson (for the better) — use Holmes’ razor sharp mind and Watson’s intuitiveness and questioning. Sam Spade, wise cracks, an iron fist, and underlying sensitivity.

Program evaluation is not about conducting research, randomly assigning participants to conditions, or using quasi-experimental designs. Program evaluation is about understanding why programs produce certain outcomes, intended or not, positive or not, unique or not. To truly understand a program quantitative and qualitative data needs to be collected with great attention to the sensibilities, needs, risks, and potential confidentiality breaches of data of program participants, program staff, program administration, funders, and other stakeholders.

I love program evaluation. Every program is unique and at the same time representative of certain classes of human service organizations.

Be a detective. Look carefully and understand the beauty of a well-running program and how to help staff improve a program that is not working as well as it could.

evaluation detective work

I always look forward to the release of many Apple app updates on Saturday morning with anticipation and fear. At times these updates (really bug-fixes of not-acknowledged problems that should have been initially discovered through enough testing before release) provide useful new methods. At times they introduce a whole new set of bugs to frustrate you, hone your work-around skills, and make you look forward to the next updates.

I guess developers who sell millions of copies of small apps that replicate all of the functionality of another developer’s apps do not feel the responsibility to release a bug-free product after a lot of beta testing. Perhaps this lack of regard for the customer is because a programmer who ignored doing sufficient beta testing therefore releasing buggy and bloated software that probably wasted a year of my professional life went on to become the richest person in the world and pretend that all he ever wanted to do was to solve those six world problems that are simple enough for him to understand.

The well publicized “generosity” of the Gates Foundation is really not that; Gates is simply repaying with no interest a few cents on each dollar taken from the world as excessive profits by a monopoly and the waste of the world’s resources in the loss of billions of hours. Bill Gates should be severely criticized, not lionized for his charitable work; it is a tiny distraction from a life of greed and shirking responsibility for the products you sell. I certainly hope the little guys who “only” make a few million dollars from simple apps will not look to Gates as a role model.

Software  Updates and  Bill Gates'  Legacy

The Program Evaluator's Tool Kit

Measure, Find Relationships, Communicate

image image

image image
Ask the Big Questions and Study How the Answers Relate to One Anotherimage

Decode Events and Naturally Occurring Data

image image

Examine in Detail



Find Patterns

The Old …


The Current …


And the Ideal


  • Click on images to zoom.
  • Note that both the placement of the circles AND the front to back placement are significant and intentional.

This is the first of a series of posts I am making about program-organizational (and individual) evaluation. Much of what I will discuss is not in the mainstream of traditional program evaluation methodology.

My approach is different. It works.

In this first section the point is — obviously — that evaluation is iterative and nonlinear. This led to my first model that EVALUATION IS DETECTIVE WORK several decades ago. [Perhaps that explains my current obsession with all versions of Sherlock Holmes, whether in the original, present London, present New York, or by Iron Man.] At any rate, it seems ELEMENTARY to me that instead of thinking of program evaluation as a linear research experiment with a fixed design (a metaphor that works at best imperfectly), it is more important to treat evaluation as detective work where good rules of evidence must be followed and the evaluator is at fault if all outcomes are not found.

My initial development of the Detective Model in 1992 came from my observation that in much traditional program evaluation the evaluator applies a flawed “research” experimental model and the insensitivity of this approach means that a program looks worse than it is because the evaluation methodology is in error. Who pays for this problem? The program, of course, since the evaluator walks away saying that the “program sucks” and not that the evaluator screwed up. In the Detective Model, applied iteratively and nonlinearly, the evaluator and the program are partners, and it is clear what the responsibilities and level of success each has.

Seems ELEMENTARY to me.

As usual click on the image to zoom.

Evaluation is an Iterative, Non-linear Process


Toni Krasnic is an established expert in coaching and student development who is well-known in mind mapping circles as a superstar. Mr. Krasnic has written an accessible, concise, and research-based book on using mind maps and other visual learning tools with beginning students. In my opinion, the methods Mr. Krasnic introduces will be an increasing part of elementary school education in the next few decades. Usually in mind mapping books, the method of mind mapping in one computer program or another is the primary focus of the book. Mr. Krasnic places the emphasis where it should be: on using mind mapping tools to SUPPORT EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES. This is a book about learning and teaching and coaching and classroom exercises using visual learning methods. Mr. Krasnic does not tie the book to any commercial product but rather pairs the book content to learning theory, issues, and techniques. Many of the major mind mapping commercial products are introduced and there are many exceptional examples of mind maps that address real learning issues and support skill acquisition. This books is not about a flashy new computer program that makes pretty pictures. The book is about using powerful visual learning methods starting in elementary school and continuing through life to achieve mastery in many learning situations.

If you have read this blog in the past few weeks, you know that I strongly support the notion of peer review of mind maps. However, I acknowledge it is not fair to to keep harping on this issue without providing some type of suggestions for implementing a system.

I selected BiggerPlate as my example because it is the largest and highest quality archive of mind maps I know of. I greatly support their work.

I believe that implementing such a system would increase the usefulness of mind map communication and advance this area of inquiry.

Click on the image to zoom in.

Plan Peer Review of Mind Maps

In Al Gore’s new and compelling book, he makes extensive use of mind maps. The following mind map is my review of Al’s mind mapping technique, NOT the content which I greatly admire.

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Al Gore Mind Maps

I have been writing (and mind mapping) a lot recently about the need to make sure that mind maps purported to contain “expert” information are valid, reliable, important, and data-driven. I have noted that I also think these mind maps are better communication devices if they are “organic” (in the sense of Tony Buzan) and “artistic” and creative. And I am fairly sure that valid and memorable organic mind maps can be much better for encoding information into memory.

The best example I have found of a profesional who consistently produces valid, reliable, important, data-driven, organic, artistic mind maps is Hans Buskes who posts his work frequently on his blog mastermindmaps and tweets as @hansbuskes. Dr Buskes’ maps have well-researched information that meets current standards of excellence, are easy to understand, and data-driven. Look at his two English-language e-books on mind mapping. The book available on iTunes is offered for free.

I view the work of Dr Buskes as the standard I hope to achieve.

The examples are partial screen clips of two of Hans Buskes’ maps. See the mastermindmaps blog site for the full maps and explanatory materials.



Content is Queen. The ultimate point of any mind map is to use and present information clearly in a way that communicates conclusions  that are valid, reliable, and important.

Some examples. Are all of those mind maps floating around showing psychological variables and purporting to illustrate major findings and theories actually using valid information? (Guessing what all people feel like or how they learn and thinking it must be valid since, after all, you are a human, is probably not an indication that you are using highly valid data.) What is the expertise of the individuals who generated the information portrayed in the mind map? Was the information based on empirical studies, well-established theory, the musings of a pop psychology writer, what your Mom taught you, what your best friend thinks, what you saw in a movie? Did you (as a student or casual reader) just read a popular psychology book and accept what that person wrote on how you can be more rich, famous, happy, socially connected, sexy,and thin?

Much attention in mind mapping goes into the “artistic presentation” aspects of the maps, the colors, the rules, the images. And yes, prettier, neater, more original, and more creative maps are probably better received than those that use none of the great tools of visual thinking. But the reality is that the clothing does not make the person nor does the artistry of the map make the content more valid or reliable or important.

The first mind map below shows some of my thoughts and suggestions about how mind maps should be reviewed by experts in the content areas being addressed if the map will be used for purposes other than personal learning or process documentation or as art. That is, if the point of the map is to present facts, then the purported facts really need to be checked by someone who is an expert in the content area. In most cases, I have no problem with authors being responsible for their own work so long as they clearly state their own expertise levels and where the data for the mind maps originated. I have a big problem with someone who is not a trained mental health professional telling the world how to diagnose depression or ADHD. If the author of the map is not an acknowledged expert presenting her or his own work, then the source and limits of the information in the mind map need to be stated, and in some cases, independently evaluated.

Evaluating Mind Maps with Expert Content

The second mind map is actually just the first one produced in iMindMap exported into the alternative computer program MindNode Pro. Is the first map prettier than the second? Sure seems so to me. Is the first map more valid? No. It contains identical information. Does the first map communicate better than the second? Sure seems so to me.

Keep in mind that the goal of most mind mapping is to present valid, reliable, and important information in way that is easily understood, easily remembered, and easily communicated. Using this criterion the first map is probably significantly better.

iMindMap5 Map

The third mind map is identical in content to the two maps just considered but was generated using default options in the program XMIND. The style of the mind map is similar to that of another program (Mindjet AKA MindManager), and is that many argue is the best for presenting information to those in business.

XM Evaluating Mind Maps with %22Expert Content%22

Hopefully by the time you read this, you will have looked carefully at the actual content of the mind map in one or more of the variations. Content is Queen; it is all about the ideas. In the process of mapping, we need to incorporate references to the source of the information displayed. Pretty is good and memorable, but is not more important than the information presented. Content is Queen, although she does look better in a nice dress or business suit.

Keyword Boardtopics and sub-topics: evaluating mind maps with “expert content” criteria information accurate source stated authoritative recognized cited by others opinion? state adult learning multi-channel non-hierarchical non-linear iterative approximations successive small steps link existing knowledge experience emotions cultural memory consensus neuroscience “catchy” style serious disease disaster war human toll horror funny often many topics “lighter” facts graphic usually images fonts colors this opinion mine g j huba phd @drhubaevaluator © 2012 all rights reserved based professional judgment experience 15 years healthcare professionals researchers physicians nurses psychologists social workers others administrators no science citations but read dr seuss really early lexical mind mapper organic style tony buzan thinking flexible suggestions discussion @biggerplate quick notes iteration 1 imindmap mac written on limited to content purportedly expert reproducible empirical “textbook” peer review? content content content content most important meaningful valid reliable educational goals objectives audience mind maps uniqueness used color fonts non-linearity “artistic” memorable by established experts content visual thinkers other concerns mission critical data good empirical public never present as perfect examples medical safety criminal justice financial mental health reproducibility mind map logic data logic education logic expert knowledge conclusions

There are lots of different applications of mind mapping methods to such areas as brainstorming, task management, scheduling, journaling, and sharing basic information (great day to play basketball!). Other mind maps may tell us about scientific experiments and theories, political arguments, historical events, anatomical features of the human body, the quality of hotels in Barcelona, or expert rankings of world football (soccer) teams projected to finish near the top in the World Cup tournament. How do you know a real expert has ranked your favorite football teams correctly? How do you know that the student who created the cute mind map of the human body as a subway map actually put in the correct names parts and names? What are the professional qualifications of the “expert” who says the world is flat? Do experts believe the purported expert who drew the mind map? Is the information in the mind map you found and downloaded from the Internet really going to tell you what you need to know for your organic chemistry test in two hours?

I sure hope my doctors studied from factually correct mind maps, not just pretty ones given away by a pharmaceutical company. And (since I have a doctorate in psychology), I am really sick of seeing mind maps that say they contain psychological principles that will make you happier, thinner, less anxious, more sexy, and help you self-diagnose whether you have bipolar disorder and which drug would be best to help you and should be ordered from an Asian or Mexican pharmacy over the Internet (URL at the bottom of the map).

Mission critical information in mind maps should be carefully reviewed by experts in the content of the maps to minimize the number of cases where misinformation hurta people . If such a review has not been done, or if the author of the mind map does not provide adequate credentials to assess professional competence, I recommend you do not use such information for making personal or business decisions. While I love artistic maps that are well-designed and “clean” in their appearance and spend a lot of time trying to emulate the best, adherence (or not) to the mind mapping rules of Tony Buzan and the use of a wonderfully artistic program, in no way does or does not make the information in the maps correct. Think about that carefully the next time you download a mind map from the Internet and try to study or make a business decision; that’s a fact, Jack.

It’s also a fact that these comments also apply to infographics, concept maps, and other information visualizations.

My next post is going to have a lot to say about the importance of content and how to assess whether that pretty map you just found contains valid, reliable, and important information.

Some more of my thoughts …

Should Mind Maps  Be Reviewed FINAL


Keyword Board

topics and subtopics: should mind maps and templates be reviewed? probably not audience you only internal work group intended use personal planning personal/group notes brainstorming journal diary task management scheduling type of information common knowledge 12 inches 1 foot green traffic light go usa flag red, white, blue shoes sold in pairs cover feet simple facts address size weight color presented as opinion no or minimal harm if misinterpreted inappropriately applied yes audience general internet textbook presentations heterogeneous broad background expertise experience general intended use present facts present theory learning tool group textbook as summary facts findings opinions consensus judgments type of information data-supported expert judgment best ice skater best baker best decision consensus presented as fact potential harm if misinterpreted inappropriately applied expert (peer) review best © 2013 g j huba phd some definitely yes opinion expert informed most probably not