Sunday, November 06, 2016

Getting to the Bottom of It

In today's world we have many large controversial topics that we keep going around and around on, instead of just getting to the bottom of. I'm sure there are many reasons for this, many of which don't have anything to do with rational discourse, but let's pretend for a moment that a little rational discourse can at least make a small improvement.

Part of the problem with these big topics is that they are so multifaceted, it's hard to hold it all in your head at once. What we need is a big map starting from a simple premise and going down, down, down through all the pros and cons, twists and turns, branching into every subtopic, to fully cover every facet. I'm confident this information is already available; it just needs to be organized.

I'm imagining a website for this. Anyone can start a new topic, e.g. "is global warming real?" Then anyone can add pro or con posts, and anyone can add rebuttals to each, and rebut the rebuttals and so on. Once a topic is in place, you can navigate it by expanding the areas that interest you, until you get to the bottom of it.

In order for this to work, a lot of care needs to go into making sure the structure is clean… No circular arguments, no logical fallacies. All of the misinformation needs to be debunked (not just buried). Wherever possible there should be links to primary sources. Each answer needs to cover a single point. This means there needs to be as much energy and facility directed toward structural work as there is toward content contribution.

So, for instance, redundant answers need to be able to be merged; answers covering multiple points need to be split; points that have been covered elsewhere need to be linked; logical fallacies need to be flagged; etc. Of course each of these actions need to be vettable, so improperly merged, split, or flagged items can be undone. All of this activity needs to be transparent.

Even if a thing like this won't resolve these arguments directly, it would be an invaluable resource for those working to do so.