The Consilience Project

Sensemaking and Media

Helena is a founding partner of The Consilience Project.

Executive Summary

The Consilience Project

(A note on this page)

Democracy depends on the institutions of public education and news for collective sensemaking. A government of, for and by the people must equip individuals with the basic ability to make sense of the issues that need government response.

In recent years, these foundational capacities have been damaged to such an extent that almost every consequential topic succumbs to vehement polarization. Institutional decay, perverse incentives and the disruptive effect of new information technologies have contributed to a breakdown in sensemaking so complete that even base facts and reality are disputed. No institutions are accepted as trusted authorities across party lines. Very few people have the training and information access needed to adequately understand critical and complex issues independently. Moreover, there has been an erosion of the culture of civic virtue and good-faith dialogue with opposing ideas; the earnest, constructive conversation required to bridge the gap and find a shared path is missing.

Our current media environment drives polarization, misinformation and outrage. Rather than providing the education and insight that empowers people to understand the world and become capable of meaningful participation, the media has debased the capacity for generative civic engagement and participatory governance. For an open society, this trend is existential.

To counter this trend, Helena is partnering with The Consilience Project, a non-profit organization aimed at restoring the integrity of the epistemic commons and catalyzing a new cultural enlightenment. The project seeks to reboot the integrity of open society by advancing collective intelligence.

The Consilience Project has a publishing arm and a movement-catalyzing arm. The publishing arm provides a type of novel coverage of current events: it makes explicit the insights and techniques – or the epistemology and bias correction – it employs. It provides essential education about media literacy and complex sensemaking while offering clear assessment of critical world events. There is particular emphasis on issues that are consequential and highly polarized as well as topics that are important yet remain unaddressed in the media.

The movement-catalyzing arm seeks to curate important projects within relevant disciplines such as public education, media literacy, journalism and social media. It reframes these projects as a nascent movement towards better sensemaking and healthier public culture. This arm intends to host innovation prizes to address unsolved issues and create forums to deepen important conversations through good-faith dialogue.

The Consilience Project is a non-profit that commits to being funded solely through donations. Nothing will ever be behind a paywall and there will be no ads. Data will not be collected and sold. As the project is set to complete after five years, it is clear that it is not seeking a position in the power landscape.

It aims instead to catalyze a decentralized movement that is already nascent but not yet self-conscious, then retire, so there is no lasting center to be captured or corrupted. In partnership with Helena, the Consilience Project seeks to improve collective sensemaking for the benefit of all.

A Forthcoming Project

This page is an initial summary of a new, developing project. It will be continually updated as The Consilience Project launches and develops in 2021.


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