Communicating uncertainty…a TED video

Just a quick footnote to the previous piece on this weekend’s National Communication Association Chairs’ Summer Institute.

In setting up the link to the NCA website, I noticed their home page featured links to several TED videos. Have you ever watched a TED video that failed to satisfy? I haven’t. Didn’t have time to watch them all, but one caught my eye. By Walid Afifi, who’s at the University of California Santa Barbara Communication Department, it’s entitled How Uncertainty Affects Us (and Five Simple Words to Make a Change).

Communication of uncertainty is so important to our work. Remember the 2006 NAS/NRC report, Completing the Forecast: Characterizing and Communicating Uncertainty for Better Decisions Using Weather and Climate Forecasts?

Couldn’t resist giving the video a look. Mr. Afifi uses a couple of weather examples to make his points, but he deals with all the uncertainties in all the aspects of our lives. And his takeaway message is at a deeper level. It only dates back to this past April, so you may not have seen it. Give it a look and let me know what you think.

In the meantime? Thanks more than I can adequately express for being there for me. And I am there for you.

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3 Responses to Communicating uncertainty…a TED video

  1. Nate Johnson says:

    His “five simple words to make a change” ring true to anyone who’s waited out a line of storms, babysitting a line of storms “just in case”, when no one was watching or paying attention. We can say those five words, and we should, of course, but as Seth Godin mentioned in his blog post yesterday, our actions – actually living those words – is where we build trust:

    We trust people because they showed up when it wasn’t convenient, because they told the truth when it was easier to lie and because they kept a promise when they could have gotten away with breaking it.

    • William Hooke says:

      Hello, Nate! Don’t you ever sleep?

      Thanks for your comment, which goes to the heart of the matter. Can you and I live those five words? Or only mouth them? Most people would agree that we can truly live these words for only one or two others, or, in exceptional cases, a handful. And even in those instances, we will always sooner or later let them down. To be human is to be broken…fatally flawed…in exactly that way.

      So why broadcast those words? Because we are told that two thousand years ago a man who claimed to be the Son of God actually did live up to this promise, and continues to do so. And because He invites us to follow Him.

      If I follow Him in secret and fail, it remains a comfortable, private matter. I can soothe myself, saying I’m only human. I don’t have to do any real work. There’s no public shame. Not even my friends and family know. But if I make my efforts public, there’s accountability. And equally-public shame soon follows.

      Back then…back at that two-thousand-year point, Peter saw Jesus walking on the water and gave it a try himself. What on earth was he thinking? He managed no more than a step or two. We think of him today as just an enthusiast…not quite so sensible as the others who stayed in the boat. But in his failure, he pointed to someone and something greater than himself…the answer to all life’s uncertainties, for all time, for everyone.

      And today we’re better for it.

  2. Sandy Sidah says:

    Oh Bill, what a lovely Mom and what an eloquent tribute to her and your Dad. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of mine and they’ve both been gone for many years. We owe them so much… At least I feel that way about mine and it shows from your remembrances that you do yours too. Though I didn’t know your Mom, I can say that from what I know of you, she must have devoted a lot of her life to her “work in progress”. Sorry for your loss. Take great care!

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