Sunday, October 01, 2006

For the sake of argument: A newly launched wiki revolutionizes debate

Visit Debatus.comDebate these days, whether in the political arena or on national news programs, reminds me more and more of these words from Shakespeare’s immortal Macbeth:

...it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.


So much of what masquerades as discourse lacks logic, reason, and support. Talking heads hurl unsubtantiated opinions back and forth across the airwaves or through cyberspace.

There are, however, those who seek a different path. Those who long for a more rigorous and disciplined approach to debate will welcome the advent of Debatus, a wiki forum for meaningful, structured argumentation.

From the Debatus mission statement:

Debatus is translating this force of the internet and "wikis" to the presentation and refinement of substantiated argumentation and debates. The aim is to foster the ordered and concise presentation of the primary argumentation for and against certain positions. This has not truly been achieved through traditional mediums of newspapers, journals, scholarly work, books. The basic problems of these traditional sources is that they lack a sound point-counterpoint structure, rely on too few minds, and become closed to refinement when 'printed'. Blogs suffer from basically the same problems because they rely on "posts" that are locked away from refinement and reduction, and generally lack a structured methodology for debate. Debatus moves beyond these limitations.
Debatus sets some basic guidelines for participants: No personal opinion. Arguments must be supported by third-party facts and hew to a standard of logical consistency. A premium is placed upon conciseness and objectivity. Facts must be derived from credible sources.

For more information on this extraordinary collective experiment in principled debate, visit the Debatus web site.