Universal Debating Project
Basic Proposal by Robert Searle
Tackling the Information Explosion
The Universal Debating Project (or UDP) is an extremely ambitious proposal for an ongoing programme in which "all", or most arguments for, or against any topic of human knowledge could be presented in the clearest, and shortest possible form. It would also include an online "encyclopedia"(like Wikipedia) for the pros, and cons of any debate which could be continually updated in Real-Time on the internet. It would naturally adopt the Networking P2P approach, and hence, be an Open Source of structured data emanating from laymen, experts, NGOs, scholarly papers, popular articles, documentaries, web feeds, aggregators (ie.feed readers, or news readers), et al.
Ofcourse, articles such as those on Wikipedia do try to present arguments for, and against particular subjects. But how "complete," and how unbiased are they? Moreover, they deal probably with mainly major arguments, and to a lesser extent "minor" arguments. In effect, what is needed is the most objective presentation of "all" possible pros, and cons on most, if not "all" kinds of human knowledge.
Ideally, the Universal Debating Project should be publicly seen as being the most reliable, and the most credible central global source of such structured data of its kind. It should also act as the most advanced, and "complete" online encyclopedia of its kind in the world. Its aim ultimately is to achieve improved constructive reasoning, and greater holistic objectivity. It should become of great practical value for educators, citizens, governments, NGOs, businesses, et al.
Universal Text Simplification in a World of Increasing Complexity
As the world becomes increasingly complex it becomes more, and more vital to....
a) ...reduce most, if not "all" introductory information on a topic into clear, and manageable levels of data (ie. Text Simplification but not "oversimplification")...ideally using the least number of words..(similiar to notes, or "good" powerpoint presentations, and as short comprehensive summaries consisting of one, or more paragraph). This ofcourse is the encyclopaedic dimension of the UDP.
b) ...reduce "all" major, and "minor" resulting arguments for, and against a topic in the most lucid manner possible....again ideally using the least number of words...This ofcourse is the pro, and con dimension of the UDP.
c) ....a whole series of links to various sources could naturally enough be included at the click of a button. Ofcourse, the relevant sentences in "all" cases could be highlighted. This ofcourse is the encyclopaedic, and pro, and con dimension of the UDP.
Special editors (paid ideally)could do the above work notably in connection with a), and b). This would mean that any pro, and con arguments which are repeated could be "quickly" reduced into the least number of words, and be free of emotive language. These could be emailed to those in a debate to see if the participants opinions are presented accurately. In other words, democratically created Agreed Statements could be produced for introductions to subjects, and ofcourse, relevant pro, and con arguments. The sources for all this would naturally enough be instantly checkable.
The Vital Importance of the Pros, and Cons Format
The structured data of the UDP should be like the basic format found in the book called Pros, and Cons, a Debaters Handbook edited by Trevor Sather which went through a number of editions since 1896. Here, two columns are presented, one of which is for pro arguments, and the other for con arguments. This along with a brief lucid presentation of an issue, or topic should ofcourse become ultimately universally standardized for the entire world, and act as a truly comprehensive "compliment" to any number of "decentralized" sources of information.
If the "Global Brain", or Universal Debating Project were ever set up, its initial concern would probably be with major issues notably social matters, economics, politics, and climate change/global warming. A site could be set up, and it could even have a motto such as "Fair Thinking, Fair World".
Also, it should be added that it is as yet unclear how such a proposal could be funded. It could use the Wikipedia model, or maybe not. It should also be independent of undue influence from governments, and corporations.
Repeated Data and "Instant Experts"
There are ofcourse on the internet any number of forums, and discussion groups. These are fine as far as they go. But as said before how complete are their arguments for, and against a certain topic? Naturally enough, such arguments are continually repeated again, and again. This is where the UDP becomes all-important.
A vital aspect of all this is that it should be possible for people to become "instant experts." In other words, they should be able to become reasonably "expert" in the shortest space of time in say some aspect of economics, biology, or physics, or whatever. Thus, there is an element here of Anti-Credentialism in which essentially good arguments rely on good "objective" thinking rather than relying on the credibility of experts all the time.
Ofcourse, those who have formal qualifications, and training still play a vital role, but they must be prepared to submit their ideas, and discoveries onto the UDP. Thus, they could be "fully" scrutinised by other experts, and by the public without relevant credentials. This could all lead in certain instances to "quality" online global "brainstorming", or more precisely "brainwriting" sessions leading to "new" ideas that may have value in society, and the world. Hence, Collective Intelligence at work.
It should be added here too that technical subjects such as physics, and the processes involved in mathematics could be presented verbally, and clearly. In the latter instance, an individual may have little, or no training. But with "simple" verbal step by step presentations he, or she could reach levels of "mathematical understanding." Admitedly, this already happens but with the UDP such information could be made even more lucid as "never before".
Knee Jerk Reactions, and Policy Scrutiny
Some people may think that the UDP is somewhat extreme in the extent it wishes to present crystal clear data. This is arguably true to a point, but we do need something which is truly transparent, credible, and holistic as a reliable guide to understanding, and decisions-making on a scale never seen before. Among other things, it can act as an antidote to fake news, or misinformation which would include ofcourse conspiracy theories. Also, in an ideal world subjects such as politics, and the economy should be presented in the clearest, and succinct manner as is possible. But most people though would probably still resort to knee-jerk reactions, and "knock about politics".
As for politicians their policy proposals in an ideal world should always be subjected to proper scrutiny rather than just simply "nodded through" Parliament. Here, the UDP could play an invaluable part in helping to aid making policy quicker, and more effective.
In the future ofcourse, Artificial Intelligence could make important decisions without human cognitive bias, and hence, reach outcomes which could be far more fair, and progressive. However, the ideas presented here in connection with the UDP would still have relevance, and importance in an ever changing world.
Please note the above may be expanded with more data, plus further editing where necessary.
The following list of links may have direct, and indirect relevance to the above p2pfoundation entry. Yet, they are worthy of inclusion here. They also give us an idea of the immensity of the subject of debating, rationality, and thinking......
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straight_and_Crooked_Thinking A book by the parapsychologist Robert Thouless,(pronounced Tooliss) and one in which he gave a "simplistic" presentation of the different forms of argument.
There are naturally enough a number of debating "organizations" on the internet. However, the scale, and indeed, scope of the UDP is far greater, and "infinitely" comprehensive.
http://www.debatepedia.org/en/index.php/Welcome_to_Debatepedia%21 (like the Universal Debating Project)
The following is a link to a PDF on the so-called Back Fire Effect
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_brain The UDP could play a "central" role in the Global Brain proposal
A key problem with policy making is that unforeseen consequences can often happen. Hence, the need for good thought through planning to reduce future problems. Such policy making could be aided with the structured data approach of the UDP http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Policy
http://p2pfoundation.net/Category:Facilitation This has a list of links of great interest
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-democracy (The UDP could play a critical role in this)
The link below deals with games that have serious educational value, and could in certain situations even affect socio-economic change. Ofcourse, a pro, and con project such as the above could be presented in an attractive, and stimulating manner.
Mind Maps are another way of presenting issues other than the pro, and con approach. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map
Semantics can have relevance. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_technology
There are variety of ways for developing greater creativity. One such approach is lateral Thinking.
The following deals with Upstream Engagement in which people can have informed dialogue about subjects (notably in connection with "controversial" scientific innovation)
Another area of likely relevance is media bias. If undertaken correctly, the Universal Debating Project should be able to present the most "objective" presentation in the world of various topics notably on emotive issues such as genetically modified food, and global warming.
A link of links http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complexity_theory
Big Data could play a big role in the all this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_data
The following link is concerned with the idea(!) of Ideonomy which would probably be of great relevance to UDP.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nootropic (ie.Smart Drugs)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam%27s_razor (This could be seen as a complete contradiction to the UDP)
http://flynn.debating.net/amazon.htm (an interesting list of book references on debating, etc)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda (a classic example of the "misuse" of data)
An important area of enquiry is how accurate, and authentic statistics are. With the aid of the UDP a set of them could be scrutinized rigorously. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statistics
There is an important radio programme which questions statistics...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/More_or_Less_(radio_programme)
Some interesting info can be found on the discussion section of this page/subject entry.
Finally, a blog has been set up. http://universaldebatingproject.blogspot.co.uk/ Other "relevant" subject matters not included as links in the above may also exist on the blog itself, and maybe included at the P2P Foundation site.