Thursday, 21 February 2013

Anecdotal evidence? Or case studies?

Anecdotal evidence? Or case studies?

As some of you have already seen, yesterday I was working with a fellow professional, taking her reading performance ‘to another level’.

Sandra was in a way very typical of many dyslexic adults, in that she had been taught and had learnt strategies to enable her cope and thrive despite the world appearing to be a very unfriendly place for someone who had to live with a contrast between the way she was seen by others and her own inner feelings about her capability.

In Sandra’s case this has led to explore, to and to assist many other adults. As she has navigated her way through, she has been able and is able to help others on the journey.
Today I shall work with a young man who from what I understand, has not been as successful yet. He has sort of accepted the world’s view of him, or at least that is what I think is so. I shall find out this afternoon.

With his permission, I hope, we shall all be able to understand where he is and where he could go to.  Well I hope so.  We not make any progress.

What fascinates me is how few other professionals in this area really seem to want to know about this stuff.

I like the fact that I can audit progress and benefit. I like the fact that the biological model being applied is so consistent in its outcomes. I can conjecture on mechanisms and to some extent can explore them further, but this work is driven by a ‘technological loop’ rather than a science loop.  The mathematics of the model is complex in that it is about a complex system where cause, correlation and effect can get confused. A typical biological system.

It reminds me of agriculture. Farming appears to be a mixture of science and art.  The desired output can be seen simplistically as ‘tons of product per acre’. Farmers vary the inputs based on what is perceived to be the ‘limiting factor’ controlling the output. But across a field there are huge variations in conditions. The needs of individual plants can be lost.

Short term need by society might be in conflict with long term need, such as maintenance of soil structure, soil fertility, reduction in the fossil fuel energy investment needed to get the food produced.

The evidence base on which farmers make their decisions is a mix of science and experience. The science research usually originated from observations, anecdotal evidence which then gets investigated ‘scientifically’.  For example we know that fungi and bacteria associate with plant roots to provide nutrients to the plant such as Nitrates, Phosphates and trace elements. But it is easier to do ‘the science’ of how much of these fertilisers we add every year rather than how do we nurture the fungi and bacteria which will provide the crops with their needs. The latter will probably give us a better, bigger crop without the massive investment in fossil fuels of the present ‘science based’ methods. If you are interested google ‘permaculture’ and find out more.

What I do and many others is to gather and apply evidence from case studies which can feed back to science based research. This all occurs within the context of ongoing research and at present seems to not be on conflict with the outcomes of research.
So another one today. 

Perhaps I am a bit like a motor racing engineer checking if the technology will work today in another grand prix?

I think I know what the outcomes will be. 

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