•  Working to promote international discussion, free and open access to high quality interdisciplinary knowledge and the development of reasoned argument for the global population

Everyone knows about our inspiration site, Wikipedia: a place where you can share your own knowledge, correct other peoples or learn something new. It stays relevant and up to date by allowing anyone to edit it. Wikipedia deals with the raw information.

The WikiLogic project on the other hand, tries to mimic the same model except, instead of dealing with information only, it deals with how information is linked as evidence to create new claims. For example if i know these two facts:

(1)”Mortals must die”

(2)”I am a mortal”

Then i can use these to provide a new claim:

(3)I must die.

Anyone with some basic knowledge of logic or philosophy will recognize this as an argument map.

We want to see all the information in the world archived on WL so anyone can pick any claim, such as the example above, and perform a series of actions such as:

  1. Check the current state of it; is it currently set as ‘true’
  2. Check which sets of premises back this and check the premises themselves
  3. Add new evidence
  4. Edit existing evidence
  5. Use this claim as evidence to a new argument you would like to make
PreziOverviewpng

This is to show how arguments are linked – one starts a discussion about abortion but that requires answers to lower level arguments that can go all the way back to whether anything exists. The original claims status (true or false) will then have repercussions on higher level arguments such as what policy the government has on abortion


Has this been done before?

If this does not seem new to you, let us redirect you to our wiki page that compares out project with similar ideas so you can see the differences and hopefully get a better idea of the overall direction.

How would it be used?

Until then here is a text explanation abstracted from another article. (click here for the full article)

WikiLogic will allow someone interested in a point like whether capital punishment is moral to search for it and be provided with an ‘argument web‘ This is a page where someone has made a claim and people will have the chance to open up a ‘fallacy ticket’ or counter statement against parts or all of the claim. This will set the original claim to false.

To open up a ticket they need to define the issue presented in the argument they are attacking. You can pick one of the rules of logic that is being violated or request a link backing up the truth of what is stated. For example the first set of premises on the capital punishment page might say:

“A survey showed most Americans want it.”

Someone else goes on the site and clicks the “Argumentum ad populum (Appeal to the masses)” ticket from the list of fallacies, which allows them to also add a post explaining why they added it if they want. In this example the person writes “Most Americans wanting it, does not make it moral unless the definition of moral is based on majority rule.”

This makes the premise group fallacious which means it can no longer be used to back up whatever claim it was supporting. Although the concluding claim will only be set to false if there are no other backing premise sets left.

Another example of how this claim can be rebuffed might take the following form:

A person opens a ticket by clicking the “Link is required for fact” button on the premise that says “A survey showed most Americans want it.” If someone supplies the link to the study then it passes and can be used as evidence.  As the fallacy tag mentioned earlier still stands, it will not help the capital punishment discussion in this instance. However it could still be used in a claim about people’s feelings towards capital punishment in America.


What can WikiLogic be used for?

We originally thought of this idea as a way of storing thoughts and communicating complicated new lines of reasoning to others by allowing them to go through at their own pace and makes edits and updates as required. However, the importance of good reasoning in everyday life means the possibilities for this are near endless.

Here are some of the key areas WL can help with (click to expand):

[su_spoiler title=”Education”]We often stress the importance of looking for the evidence behind each new fact we learn, but doing this for everything is simply not practical. WikiLogic provides a way to quickly check the soundness of the information as well as some of the more prominent pros and cons for its current status. The core benefit from this is allowing the reader to quickly tell if something is in dispute as it will have a history of frequent changes between its true/false state and there will be many deep arguments for each.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Business”]Running a business is about making fast and accurate decisions. Using WL to plan out new strategies and clearly communicate pros and cons of decisions to the rest of the team will provide a huge competitive advantage.

WikiLogic for business will exist as a slightly different entity from the rest of the project. It will provide private use, which allows for new nodes to be made and existing nodes to be edited that only affect the company WL database version. The business can choose whether outside changes update their internal version or whether they want to share the changes they make allowing complete control over sensitive business information.

Forward thinking companies that give company wide access, rather than restricting it to upper management, allow everyone to feel involved, understand why decisions were made and contribute. This has the potential to result in great solutions from unlikely places and hidden talents being discovered where they may otherwise have gone unnoticed. A more daring strategy would be to make it all public and outsource to the world for better solutions and a chance to find talented new recruits.

[su_spoiler title=”Politics and Democracy”]Politicians must be incredibly knowledgeable on a wide spread of subjects. This is practically impossible and keeping them up to date while they have work to do is not feasible. WL allows scientist, economic advisers, military advisers etc to report their findings in an objective and comprehensive way for those who need to act on the data. AS mentioned on the business section, the more sensitive data can be done through a private instance of WL.

Furthermore politicians public decisions will go up on the the web allowing everyone to see their reasoning. For a democracy to work, it is essential our leaders are transparent in their decision making and there is not better tool for that than WL.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Courts of law”]As long as we use humans to decide law suits, we are always going to exhibit emotionally biased responses. Despite their training in keeping to the facts, their subconscious bias will always manifest in some way and weight the odds against rational choice. Should citizens be subjected to this gamble on human emotions that takes place in court houses across the world? WikiLogic provides the early stages for developing the software we need to make sure everything is decided on facts and further distance ourselves from the days of witch hunts.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Knowledge distribution”]Currently it is the media, politicians, philosophers, scientists and holy men who have the power to get ideas out there. The internet is slowly changing this but information saturation does not help. WL breaks down the barrier to entry and allows anyone to put up ideas. By also allowing the community to moderate and flag fallacious or non-fact driven claims, we can ensure only the best arguments survive and play a part in the great network of reasoning that is WL. This also allows for fringe ideas to have a voice based on how reasonable they are rather than cultural popularity.[/su_spoiler]


How does WikiLogic improve on traditional forms of debate and arguments?

Arguments come in many forms, such as casual discussion, organised debate, internet chat rooms, academic papers and many more. There are many strengths of using WL to explore arguments as a new alternative to those mentioned. The following points highlight why. Note: they may re-iterate on the same information as they are meant to be self-standing explanations. (Click to expand)

[su_spoiler title=”Overcoming closed minds”]Often a particularly complex, controversial or contrary idea is best consumed at a gentle pace. Being told about something in person can overwhelm or trigger defensive mechanisms that stop the information being fully understood. Being able to read small sections at a time and go off on tangents to explore the parts you don’t agree with, should help.

The possibility of editing and correcting what one doesn’t agree with is another good way of encouraging people to open mindedness – they may even have some valid points which help update the site for everyone and reveal a common misconception.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Taking emotions out of the picture”]WikiLogic is not a comments board where people can go on wrong rants. For the most part, editing will consist of spotting fallacies and tagging them as such with the provided fallacy markers. Sometimes a brief comment will be allowed for clarity.

If you do wish to make an argument, you must break it down to the statements that must be correct for your argument to be work. You can’t make an argument in one sentence but instead must break it down to its components then link them up. This should encourage people to think long and hard about what they are saying.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Identifying points of disagreement.”]Often disagreeing parties are only aware of each others main points of view and not the root views that lead to them. Meaning that arguments go back and forth with both sides not understanding how the other cannot see sense. By requiring them to put it down in WL’s argument map form, they can all quickly see the core points of disagreement and thus work on overcoming the actual issue.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Resolving old arguments permanently and moving on”]It can be hard to move on to more complex arguments without agreeing on the basics. Often you or your opponent may feel that losing the argument was merely down to not being on form that day and so the advanced argument tends to be dragged back once more to the original base arguments. WL allows them to concentrate on the core arguments first until they are satisfied. This means both sides can put their joint forces together to solve the next problem. [/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Allowing people to edit previously resolved arguments”]New information comes about all the time in our world of unknowns. That is one of the beauties of WL’s inspiration site Wikipedia. There is simply too much knowledge to put it all together in one static site. If you ever did manage to finish, the first half would have to be revised again due to the continually progressing nature of science and human knowledge. WL tackles this by crowd sourcing and automating the process of updating all the links from one argument to another. Otherwise, can you imagine how many seemingly unrelated arguments would have to be manually updated if a deep philosophical question like ‘nothing exists’ turns out to be true… and then switching it all back again the next day when someone proves otherwise![/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Anyone can get involved at any level”]Arguments break down into small accessible sizes. By breaking everything down into elemental arguments, WL offers a fantastic opportunity for making complex topics accessible to both read and edit. If you are viewing nodes related to a very complex area of physics, you can start to explore why some arguments are made from the ground up and even question them for yourself. As a non-expert looking at a statement your process might be as follows: “I must start somewhere and assume point 1 and point 2 are themselves correct as they are marked as true. But is it correct to say that because premise 1 and premise 2 are true, the claim must be true?” To think about that you do no need to know much about physics, only the laws of logic. If you decide it does make sense you can now further explore one of the nodes you are interested in to see if that is also correct.

You may not be able to dispute the esoteric knowledge, but you bring your reasoning ability into it and you can likely learn a lot about the topic as you go. With luck, you may even uncover some faulty reasoning which clears the way for scientists to make a massive advancement for humanity!

Another bonus of this is it does away with cross disciplinary boundaries. You may not be a physicist or understand anything about the surrounding nodes but if one node is a chemistry point and you posses a knowledge ofchemistry, you can quickly say whether it is right or not and supply the data to back it. Now leave it to the physicists to come in and work out why there strong argument is suddenly far weaker than they previously thought due to a chemistry misunderstanding![/su_spoiler]

 

It is worth noting that for all cases with WL, we will not guarantee the correct answer, but the best available answer with the evidence presented – Arguably, that is the best answer we are ever capable of.

“Models are not right or wrong – they’re always wrong, they’re always approximations.  The question you have to ask is whither a model tells you more information than you would have had otherwise.  If it does it’s skillful”.