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Kialo – a platform for rational debate (kialo.com)
179 points by lukeplato on July 8, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 179 comments



I did everyone a benifit by opening the holy war: https://www.kialo.com/tabs-vs-spaces-16646/16646.0=16646.1

I'm surprised this was not yet posted on the platform.

As for the platform it was very easy to use. The UI is simple and it makes you flesh out both sides of the argument to the best of your ability before it is publicly visible. This dynamic is very interesting as even before the topic is visible it will appear as if there is considerable participation in the topic's discussion. I bet that will definitely drive participation.

I'm very interested in seeing how this shapes up. Love the idea and the implementation!


This is a very nice demonstration that the sites lacks a neutral option. I think a lot of people don't care about tabs vs. spaces, as long as there is a convention and editors can be configured to respect it. Since their voice can't be heard, this results in needless polarization of the debate.

I suspect other more serious debates will suffer from the same problem.


Many issues do not have a neutral position (Is climate change real / man-made? Is there a God? Is torture ever ok? Should there be trigger warnings in education?.

If you are undecided, that's fine, don't vote or vote it a two. Voting is how you show your position in Kialo.

But we do have debates with middle ground positions or for debating multiple theses, they are called multi thesis debates. Here are examples for drug legislation (https://www.kialo.com/2027) and Game of Thrones (https://www.kialo.com/1203)


Could instead of having pro and con people write their argument for the question without putting it as pro or con. Then people can vote where they value the argument morally or for other reason on a 10 scale or something like that. Example: Issue - WiFi should be controlled fully by the WiFi alliance(something like that) Argument - WiFi use unlicensed spectrum (This could be seen both as positive and negative)

So then people vote if they think its more positive or negative by rating it from pro to con on a 10 scale. But if there are sub arguments to the arguments the voting of the sub arguments affect the value of the argument. Sub argument - non-licensed WiFi create a market for cheap electronic equipment connected to the cloud(iot). (Could also been seen as pro or con.) And so on.

Maybe bad example, but if a argument should support a thesis or not, I think is good to put in the hands of the peolpe with their values instead by the writer of the argument. And as all is not is not black and white a 10 scale (something similar)could make it more colourful and maybe more accurate to what people think.


Tabs vs. Spaces could be similarly be viewed as a multi-thesis debate; "Tabs" and "Spaces", and arguments for and against each.

This is more neutral than the current "Tabs are better than Spaces", since the negation of that statement is "Tabs are not better than Spaces", rather than "Spaces are better than Tabs."

When the initial question is skewed, the rest of the discussion becomes skewed.


You could, but then you would just end up linking the pros of Tabs as cons to Spaces, which is kind of redundant.

In the end, this is a simple, doing X is better than doing Y.

Using multiple theses generally only makes sense if they are "unrelated" (and not competing) or if you have more than two options.


Having multiple theses risks but does not necessitate more redundancy.

Yes, there are multiple points where an argument might occur. This risk occurs for all multi-thesis debates. Perhaps a DAG is more suited than a tree.

An example of the bias of having "X is better than Y" as the claim:

Claim: Tabs are better than Spaces.

Con: IDEs will handle spaces transparently and as effortlessly as if they were tabs.

Sub-con: This is not a "con" of tabs.

https://www.kialo.com/tabs-vs-spaces-16646/16646.0=16646.1-1...

This demonstrates that arguments for spaces are confused with arguments against tabs.

So good arguments to spaces will always occur as counter-arguments to tabs, not as positively phrased arguments to use spaces.

More obviously, arguments for spaces will appear red and disproving.

If you don't call that a bias, try starting a thread called "Kialo is a biased and simplistic platform." and see the effect.

My grasp on the subject of logical formalisms is a bit rusty, but I believe this bias can be expressed as a consequence of using propositional logic to simplify a world in which "tab" is not the logical opposite to "space" as true is to false. The objects you neglect to address unambiguously is:

- How do I differentiate between "Tabs are not better than spaces", "Spaces are better than tabs", and "Spaces are good"?

- How do I express that "Tabs are not better than spaces, and spaces are not better than tabs"?

- How do I express that the combination of tabs and spaces are better?

- How do I express that tabs are only good if accompanied by spaces?

- How do I express that tabs are just as good as spaces as long as they're accompanied by spaces?

Putting them in a tree that is biased at the top makes this very difficult.

The debate of the use of tabs and spaces is not able to be summarized in the one thesis "Tabs are better than spaces".

The thesis does not do a very good job of giving a collected overview of the debate. But it surely incites anger!

('This is not a "con" of tabs." is not itself a con of the argument, but a comment that the argument doesn't belong here. Ironically, the point it tries to make applies to itself.)

Also, why does the Kialo website hijack my right-click ability and my ability to copy-paste text?


You couldn't just let it go...next up emacs vs vi? :)

At least we have a >1k claims Star Wars The Last Jedi (https://www.kialo.com/7055) and Rebel alliance would defeat the United Federation (https://www.kialo.com/9394) debate already. :)

Thank you for your kind words!


Unfortunately, it doesn't allow to post formatted code.


You mean like bold, italics and different font sizes? We tried that and it made the whole reading experience much more cumbersome. What we might do is allow inline graphics attachments. The problem with those are DMCA takedowns...


For code is must also be monospaced font and allow newlines - currently, the text should be on one line.

I understand about the reading experience. But maybe then allow formatting in comments, not in the claim title?


We suggest linking to those examples, normally they are too long to fit nicely in. The same goes for graphics. We are afraid, exactly for the reason you specify, reading experience. Agreed we could do it in comments, will forward this.


How to understand "suggested Con"? Is it waiting for moderation?


It is waiting for the debate creator and their admins to accept or respond to. The suggestion is used as good faith and coherent writing ability signaling.

Normally you then get invited as a writer. That's our system to keep the trolls away, which naturally, with the topics we are dealing with, is essential. (https://support.kialo.com/hc/en-us/articles/115003791445-Sug...)

I don't want to know what e.g. the gun legislation debate would otherwise look like. It meanwhile has 2.4k unique claims and 5x that in comments. (https://www.kialo.com/3346)


Sorry for the delay. I added your con.


I like the idea but found it a little hard to follow the arguments. Especially difficult if you follow down the cons thread, because a con of a con is a pro of the original point.

I worry that it won’t really result in more rational outcome but I do wish it luck. Is there anyway to downvote the points for being, for example, strawman arguments?

Edit: maybe I’d parse it better if they were labelled “agree” and “disagree”?


I tried it a while ago, then left when I realized a terrible aspect of its’ design was being abused: The creator of a debate topic gets to moderate it, which basically includes full censorship powers of any pros or cons you don’t like.

It boggles my mind anyone designing Kialo would have thought that to be a good idea, or that they wouldn’t foresee it being abused regularly to nudge the tide of an argument in the preferred direction by the moderators.

I’ve seen it all the time: Depending on the agenda of the moderators, one side of the argument mysteriously receives an overwhelmingly large amount of “moderation” for minor technicalities or even outright nonsensical reasons.

I’ve even seen Kialo’s own confusing design you mention here used as a way to subtly suppress one side of an argument: Take any argument beyond the top level, and it’s very easy to simply claim it is a duplicate of a top level argument. For example, if I write a con of a con, moderators can remove it saying it resembled an argument they saw in a top level pro. Or if I write a pro or a pro, they can remove it by saying it’s a duplicate of its own parent!

And this technique applies any number of levels deep in the tree. When this “moderation” gets applies overwhelmingly on one side of an argument, you can shift the entire balance of a Kialo argument quite easily without revealing overt corruption on the surface of your actions.


Well unfortunately, in the large debates, really many duplicates are being submitted. Take the UBI one with close to 3k unique claims. It's really hard to suggest claims that aren't already in there.

If you have specific examples, please point us to them, but we are not aware of any really large (>500 claims) biased debates.

The idea is for claims to be canonical for each debate, otherwise you have to rewrite them a gazillion times, including their children. That's what we have linking for.

Generally speaking, if you think your claim was unfairly rejected, just hit report and we'll look into it.

Having claims rejected as duplicates, happens to us too. :)

If you have any suggestions, other than reporting, and roaming powerusers (which we will introduce soon), please let us know!


Have you considered democratizing moderation? If many people agree that a claim is a duplicate of another claim then it's probably a duplicate or at least the community wants to treat it as such.

Also instead of removal just make it less visible. With a big arrow pointing towards the main discussion. If people still choose to discuss there then they must see value in doing so.

PS: thank you for making this


Regarding democratizing, the problem are the troll hordes out there. One person with many followers tweets out a particular claim and then you'll have the strangest things suddenly appearing at the top. It's the same reason Internet polls don't really work. And the reason we consider the default perspective ALL votes, problematic (we are building something here soon). This is especially a problem due to our topics, primarily very controversal issues. These are the type of topics that very often get edit-locked on Wikipedia because of edit wars and we deal exlusively with them. That's why we built the suggestion system (https://support.kialo.com/hc/en-us/articles/115003791445-Sug...) and 5 permission levels (https://support.kialo.com/hc/en-us/articles/115003877705-Par...).

Suggested claims that were not accepted, aren't deleted. users often argue back and forth with admins on those claims, often edit them and then get them accepted. Very often it's really just a clarification or "could you please add sources" or "do you mind moving this claim over there".

Duplicates are thornier. What we have considered, is linking them to the ones that they supposedly are duplicates of, so you could see them there.

That's possible and we might do it, but we really don't get that many complaints about them. It's really just a problem in the debates with >1k claims. but as more debates grow, this might become more of an issue and then we'll build that.

Thanks for your input.


Thanks, it's interesting to learn what is a practical problem when growing a discussion website.

Is it possible to deter troll behavior by using a reputation system and investigating bad behavior? Reputation that takes a long time of good behavior to build but a single act of malice to destroy.

It also has the statistical beauty of adding a prior probability estimate to the likelihood estimate that sorts Reddit comments.


Agreed.

We have a "reputation system" it's the thank count next to usernames. We have not handed out any privileges based on those yet, but will probably soon take all with a certain thank count, look at their contributions and grant them some poweruser rights, e.g. commenting into all public debates and see how that goes.


delegated democracy (page rank) is pretty ideal but complex


Are there simpler heuristics than page rank? Perhaps a reputation score determines how much your vote is worth?


page rank is a reputation score


Yes, but if computational cost is a concern there are other options.


I fear that's too easy to game at our scale, given the horde out there.


page rank in this context is morally relativistic


How would you apply it in our context?


Not OP. In page rank you have a graph of pages as vertices and links as edges. In this case you'd want users as vertices and up votes as edges.

Page rank would give users a high score if they are up voted by other users with high scores.

I'm not sure if page rank can deal with negative weight edges for down votes but probably.


I would like to add that the "agree"/"disagree" or "pro"/"cons" should have a random placement (left or right) and also random colors every time the page is loaded. "Cons" shouldn't be red.

The brain has several cognitive biases, such as giving more value to the last paragraphes it reads (which are usually at the right, or at the end of a text block). Cultural biases, such as colors (red for "alert","bad" for example) also influence judgements.

By the way, the website doesn't look easily usable or accessible to impaired people


We thought that green = pro and red = con, is kind of universally agreed upon, no?

The most common misunderstanding is the one mentioned before, a con to a con, indirectly supports the thesis, but is red.

But changing that around is even more confusing. Especially when the parent to that con is then used as a pro somewhere else (and the con now having to be labeled red again).

We consider pros and cons always to be relating to the parent directly above them. This allows them to be linked or copied between debates, irrespective of what debate they originally were a part of.


I'm sure your team have given it a lot more thought than my drive-by assessment but a mobile constraint seems the wrong reasoning to use less clear wording. I'm sure it's something you get used to, but for me personally it jars quite heavily.

So to clarify, the below is in the wrong section, right? Even if it was under cons, as I believe it should be, the X cons Y wording doesn't feel natural to me.

https://www.kialo.com/macos-and-windows-should-sandbox-all-a...

For posterity:

>>> Getting asked for permissions by various apps (can I access the camera, can I read you photos, can I send you notifications, can I get your location, etc...) is annoying.

>>> Pros: Mobile users seem to be okay with getting asked for permissions on demand, why would desktop users be any different?

As an aside, how do I copy anything without having to trawl through the DOM or click the tweet button!?


"Mobile users seem to be okay with getting asked for permissions on demand, why would desktop users be any different?" Should be a con, not a pro, as it weakens the claim above. Just drag it to the other side.


It's also a color shift that ~1 out of 20 people don't perceive. (~8% men, ~0.5% women). Red is close to a universal color for alert/danger/warning, but green much less so for the pro. Something to consider, at least.


We might add another color scheme, exactly for those cases. But the colors, other than for the sunburst in the beginning, aren't really essential (that's at least what our color blind team members tell us) as pros and cons are always on a particular side.

We finished read and navigation accessibility (screenreaders) last month, if anyone knows a great company for testing this, please let us know.


Being consistent is good UX. I'm not sure the cognitive biases associated with color or left/right orientation are good enough reasons to intentionally confuse and disorient users.


When you want to ensure people are only focusing on the content, and that they stay vigilant about the debate, shouldn't there be UX to make sure people don't develop habits?

All debates are unique


You can "mark for review" claims that aren't clear, duplicates, etc...

Mind you, we aren't a site for commenting or opining, but for capturing and visualizing the reasoning for your opinions.

Thus to "show/capture" your opinion, you vote the individual claims and theses (in the case of multi thesis debates, like this one: https://www.kialo.com/2027). Then later you can select the different perspectives (opinions) and see the reasoning of different individuals, all in the same document. Works best in team environments, as public users often only vote 5 claims.

We tried agree/disagree, but this became problematic on mobile browsers.


Agreed - while the idea has potential, it should be easier to use. Let the cognitive load of using the site be about the arguments themselves, not figuring out the flow of the app.


It seems pretty easy to use to me. The impression that I get is that they've erred on the side of making it simple and easy to use rather than powerful and feature-heavy. In what ways do you think it should be easier / what is too hard to use now?


If you want to see the full functionality, create a private debate (you'll then have admin rights) and play around in it, incl voting, moving, linking, extracting, copy branching, intermap linking, perspectives, suggesting claims and 5 permission levels. https://www.kialo.com/tour


We are open to suggestions, but the largest cognitive load, we think, comes from reading the actual arguments and thinking along, not from the way we present them.

This interface version 4.5, but we are happy to try new stuff. :)


Maybe you could propose alternative interfaces, and let each users chose the one that best fits them.


You'd have to list out the pros and cons and...


...fortunately, we have got a tool for that ;)


A parallel meta-kialo to debate about the platform itself, like the meta-exchange website, may be a nice idea


These are happening...though we should have a dedicated place for them:

https://www.kialo.com/kialo-should-create-a-mobile-app-addit...


I'm not sure why, but when I first opened your link, I had a view with a wheel. Then I clicked on something I don't remember, and the wheel disappeared and a tree replaced it. But now I can't go back to the wheel, even if I close the tab and reopen your link. Is that a bug?

I'm on Firefox, Android 8.1

Edit : Nevermind, I found the view on the menu, then "Info / Stats / Topology". For information, I never opened the website on a desktop, and the mobile version is a bit overwhelming at first sight. UI animations are rather laggy

Edit2 : Just registered to try to participate to that debate. A bit overwhelming at first, but after understanding the UI, that tool is awesome. Democracy Forum 2.0 right there :-)

Edit3 : I agree that "agree"/"disagree" is easier to understand than "pro"/"cons" when navigating the tree. An action verb makes it more obvious that we can participate, and it then naturally shows a text box to add our arguments. Also, I'm still not a fan of green/red colors.


My first debate :

https://www.kialo.com/kalios-source-code-should-be-free-and-...

;)

It's also an awesome tool to help one at building a reasoning


Argh. And support all of them on all platforms, the dev team will shoot me. :)


separate discussion format/protocol from visualization, then anyone can implement their own discussion navigator/visualizer...

the most obvious feature (and a more objective metric for the productivity of the scoring algorithms) would be a button or color that highlights the claim, which if swayed to garner more or less support would most influence the topmost/root claim. If you don't build it sommeone else will. The most popular and desirable interface is the one that helps the user sway the rest.


Going the open source way is one solution : https://www.kialo.com/kalios-source-code-should-be-free-and-...


>because a con of a con is a pro of the original point.

Apologies for the pedantry, but no - a con of a con need not be a pro of anything.


Ah sorry, "A con of a con stands indirectly of support of the original pro" — better? :-)


>Ah sorry, "A con of a con stands indirectly of support of the original pro" — better? :-)

From a logical standpoint, not at all.

From a social standpoint, it often does persuade people towards the pro. However, that is a known fallacy. It is a standard tactic in persuasion.

From the movie "Thank You For Smoking":

Joey Naylor: ...but you didn't prove that vanilla was the best...

Nick Naylor: I didn't have to. I proved that you're wrong, and if you're wrong I'm right.


Hi HN!

9 months after launch we make it to the frontpage :)

Happy to answer any questions! More info about us and our mission can be found in this interview with our founder:

https://twitter.com/FT/status/956126468635004928


One of the best showcases of what can be done with Kialo in the public sphere is probably the gun legislation debate, with >2.4k unique claims and thousands of participants, mapping out the reasoning for all perspectives. Was created by user paulmoore about 9 months ago.

https://www.kialo.com/should-the-us-adopt-stricter-gun-contr...


It’s hard to follow cons side when support for red cons are green pros. The pro side always has green pros. https://banter.wiki/ keeps the same color for a position.


Do you allow multi linking, intermap linking, branch copying to other Kialos of claims or do people always have to rewrite them from scratch (and all their children?)? Because if you did, you would know that claims have to change their color based on what is exactly above them.

Also, when you are on level 10 of a debate, the claims might very well be a subdiscussion that attack the veracity or relevance of their parents, not of the thesis. Our debates often have >1k claims, that's the only way to handle it. A pro or a con relates directly to the parent above.

(Linking your site once, instead of thrice, would have been polite, like the others did. :) )


Did you flag my comments? It’s even not my site. I compared Kialo and other debate sites in the past. Linking is how we refer to things on the Internet. Don’t be so defensive. When people like your ideas, they’ll link you.


It was our first time on HN and I don't think the person using the account did (or had enough karma even if they wanted to). As you can see here and beneath (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17486633) we prefer to engage. Arguman is also still in there. Also, I am unsure how flagging works on HN, but I think it requires multiple people clicking "flag" to mark a post as flagged.


If anyone wants to try out teams (private portal for team discussions etc), please drop us a mail to support@ and we'll enable your account, reference HN.

It's been used in organizational contexts for decision-making, -preparation, -logging, ideation and funnily enough job interviews, where you let people reason a business decision in a given time and then compare their reasoning to others'.

We are right now building dedicated sites for edu (free) and teams, which won't be cluttered up with the public debates.

Yes, SAAS is how we will want to make money at some point in the future. :)


A little feedback.. I couldn't figure out how to get back to the topology view of the discussion after entering it.


Thanks for feedback. We only show it on first load, might well change that. You can open it by going to the menu (on the left) and selecting discussion info or clicking the (i) on the thesis.


Is it possible to link to a duplicate claim?

If I start to enter a pro or con to a claim, and it shows me a duplicate claim with a different parent, what is the correct action for me to take?


If it shows you linking, then link it. (that means you should have permissions to do so)

In discussions where you do not have editor rights, click "view in new tab" copy the url and suggest a claim with text "suggest linking this(link) as a pro (or con)"

We are building suggest linking in a couple of weeks for discussions that you haven't been invited to yet.


Are there ways to provide a "counter claim" that refutes a positive claim?


Sure, just click on it and then click on the red + and add your con.


Have you considered implementing a sentiment API for topics on this site? I imagine the data of what people are liking, viewing, and interacting with will be a goldmine.


We don't do anything with the data. We'll probably provide the public discussion corpus anonymized to researchers. It's all too sensitive and some users cannot be dissuaded from using real names. :(


Even aggregated data from a source like this is extremely valuable way of understanding the interaction surrounding specific ideas and topics.


Good news everyone...we found a way to monetize :) (Agreed, though you'd probably want demographic data with that, which we deliberately don't have. The best we do have are our follower audience analytics on T / FB. We are happy about every user who signs up with an anonymous email address.)


Have you considered adding Stack Exchange or Quora integration and then using reputation from those sources? Might help in avoiding bots/trolls


I don't think they offer an API for reputation exporting, do they?

Also, our reputation system, the thanks count, is based more around HOW you interact with others, so if you are polite, open to have your claim changed, etc. It's a general measure of how nice it is to work with you and how good your contributions are.

Contrary to SO and Q, we are not a place where you, solipsistically add an atomic answer, but because you are working with others in a collaborative reasoning system, will have to edit your claims, comment on others etc.


One observation I made about this tool: the questions are often framed with bias themselves, usually by introducing some hidden assumption. That can start a whole discussion on a tilt, and would take some serious work to curate and sculpt.


Could you give some examples of the hidden biases introduced by the theses? I presume you don't mean the way the theses are written, as in for or against the motion, instead of as a question?


Usually the question embeds an initial assumption that one answer or the other is the 'default' state, so anchor bias is introduced in the very consideration of the question.

Visiting the page, I'm seeing fewer anchor issues than I'd seen previously, but still seeing some like the following:

'Students Keep "No Platforming" Contentious Speakers. Should They Stop?'

'Should Businesses Deny Service to Trump Administration Officials?'

'Is Science Political?'

Some of these can't be phrased any other way, but a little tuning might help: the latter, for example, has a subtle bias towards science being apolitical, and introduces a new claim: that science may be political. Rephrasing the question 'Is science political or apolitical?' would leave you with only an ordering anchor bias - a slight weighting towards the first item in the list.

This also seems to be a factor in the foundational claim made in each question: it usually picks one side or the other, and all arguments and counterarguments are then firmly grounded in that claim. Perhaps expressing each claim as both a positive and negative claim would make a difference.

For example, in the 'no-platforming' question, the foundational claim is 'Social justice movements should abandon the use of no-platforming at universities'. If there were a way to present both claims as foundational - 'should abandon' vs. 'should embrace', e.g. - you would get a more fleshed-out debate, as the arguments for and against the one are not necessarily arguments against and for the other, respectively.

EDIT: I do see you've added what you call 'multi-thesis debates', this seems to tackle the latter half of this post fairly directly.


Thanks for the detailed reply.

It's something we have been thinking about a lot. As you write, there is no real good way of dealing with this. Stating both options will make theses read convoluted.

Writing the thesis as a question doesn't help much either and confuses some people. (We have tried.)

We think that the best place to correct for anchoring and setting up the stage for a discussion is the discussion info, the popup that appears the first time you load a discussion.

Regarding the "should abandon" and "should embrace", what kind of new claims do you think would arise, compared to a single thesis "should abandon"? We normally were able to fit all claims of two theses multis in comparative single thesis debates, sometimes though not at the first level as they require an implicit assumption to be stated as a parent pro or con.

We leave it to users, but consider comparative single thesis debates much easier to write than multis with a lot of linking. If there are more than two options though, multis are required.

We see most multis in team situations, not public discussions, e.g. us discussing which framework, library or design to choose.


It's a very good point that presenting two polar positions does not necessarily mean bias is removed, and may indeed remove more nuanced positions from view.

Perhaps my reticence comes more from the fairly dual nature of Kialo's discussions: an initial premise, and then points strictly for or against that premise, which makes it difficult to discuss, say, middle or nuanced positions. But that may not be the role of the platform to fit all those nuances into one discussion, either; that could easily be a use case for spinning up a new discussion, instead.

Glad to see you trying to set this kind of ground for discussion, regardless. I do hope it becomes a useful tool for people to dissect these discussions and gain an accurate understanding of arguments instead of a distorted one; I think that may be one of the most valuable aspects of this tool, by a long shot.


I'm not quite sure what the authors of this site mean by "reason" and "rational." Its design promotes the arguments that are most popular, not the ones with the most intrinsic validity or soundness. Furthermore, it's by no means obvious that rationality alone is sufficient to resolve moral and ethical questions; other virtues may also be required.


Well, at least we tell people to vote the claims "impacts" not likability. We haven't yet researched how well this works, but anecdotal evidence suggests that it does have some impact.

The heart, is just a thanks to the original author and doesn't impact the sorting.

We are going to do something drastic to the default impact shown, because we agree that the average is not really an interesting measure. 1-2 months.

I hope we are not overselling ourselves. We are no panacea, what we do, is facilitate and capture the reasoning of all viewpoints. This won't automatically lead to consensus. But at the very least you can now truly understand where others are coming from and write your opposing claims to whatever they consider being their strongest points.


I agree that further research on this topic would be excellent! But we should keep in mind that what's really important is not to reach consensus, but to ascertain the truth.

More generally, though, I would be interested to hear how you would define "reason" and "rationality." These are difficult questions, and I'm interested to hear more about your approach.


In a democracy, consensus on truths actually matters a lot.

Not speaking for the team, but, I would probably consider something to be argued rationally, that is logical within a cultural setting and frame of mind. Very often, this depends on the epistemological system a person is using. Take believers vs non-believers. Both can be rational within their framework, but many will consider other people's framework as not rational.

We think that claims should always be logical and pertaining to the parent claim above them, in YOUR belief system, otherwise it becomes incoherent and unreadable for others.


> Its design promotes the arguments that are most popular, not the ones with the most intrinsic validity or soundness.

How would that be remedied? I think if a large enough group of users ranked arguments on intrinsic validity or soundness, the effect would be indistinguishable from popularity.

Imagine the results of asking everybody in the US to rank music on musical skill and artistic achievement. You would get the Top 40.


I don't mean that arguments should be ranked on perceived soundness, as determined through democratic voting, but on actual soundness. It may be impossible to remedy this problem through any purely democratic system, but it remains a problem nevertheless.


I don't think this can be remedied via democratic voting. We are thinking of allowing debate admins to show some default perspectives, e.g. atheist vs Christian, as these are more interesting than the avg.


I have 2 issues, first is that it looks more like a popularity contest. Popupar points of view get propelled at the top where they get more exposure and get all the discussion and votes, like on any other discussion site with threads.

Second, there is not "yes, but ..." answer, you are forced to take sides, for example to the hypothetical question "should drugs be legalized ?", I'd probably want to aswer "yes, but regulated". Not sure how to express that.


When you start a debate, voting is normally not enabled.

Voting on our site is different, we explicitly ask for the impact a claim has.

But we agree, the total average of votes, with public discussions, isn't very useful, not because popularity contest, BUT, if we assume a fair split of society on a topic, because the thesis will be voted two = middle and most claims too. People basically cancel each other out and you end up with a no strong opinion either way for most claims. Which is boring. You could add standard deviation, but that would still not be great.

Thus we are going to introduce a way to visualize votes, by separating them into cohorts.

We had perspective tagging, but that has it's own set of features.

So really many topics don't have middle ground, the debate IS binary: Is climate change real / man-made. Should abortion be legal. Is there a God. Should homosexuals be allowed to marry/adopt. If you made these into multis, not much is gained.

And then, exactly for your example about drug legislation we have a multi theses discussion, check it out :) and you can add new theses or claims: https://www.kialo.com/what-is-the-best-drug-regulation-syste...


>it looks more like a popularity contest.

Right, is what is rationally justified decided by what is democratically popular? The best solution would allow for customizable curation, where different systems of authority and checks/balances on that authority could be tried, with different participants.

Equally-weighted voting is obviously not the solution for promoting rational debate, since in almost all domains there are a select few with much more knowledge than all others.


>Right, is what is rationally justified decided by what is democratically popular? The best solution would allow for customizable curation, where different systems of authority and checks/balances on that authority could be tried, with different participants.

We do have perspectives, where you can see the votes of individuals and will introduce a measure to show you the votes that agree / disagree with the main thesis. That is the best auto splitting of votes we could come up with.

Happy about better suggestions.

Weighing voting brings a whole new set of problems.

But agree, the ALL votes perspectives, isn't really that great. The reason being that often then many votes there end up in the middle (2), but the interesting bit being what the sides(0+4) are thinking. See here: https://www.kialo.com/should-the-us-adopt-stricter-gun-contr...


I think the feature currently is simply removal of duplicated points.


They need a spectrum of positions.


We do have a spectrum of positions, via the Perspective feature. There you can see how others see an issue.


I love the idea and added a topic here

https://www.kialo.com/macos-and-windows-should-sandbox-all-a...

Some comments:

The site seems designed for desktop first. The fancy radial graph doesn't seem to appear on mobile. That would seem like a pretty big barrier to popularity. I have lots of friends who's only access to the net is their phone.

It's not at all clear to me which link to share with people. Was the one above correct? It's not showing the radial graph in my topic so I assumed it was the wrong link since links to other topics show a graph. Clicking the "share" button is not helpful with providing a link

It's entirely unclear whether to respond pro or con on 2nd level topics. It feels intuitively to me that it should be green vs orange for the entire discussion. All green is pro the original topic, all orange is con the original topic. But that is not how others are using it. The comment for "con" of sub topic says "attack the parent ...." What's the parent here? The parent to this comment? The parent to this sub-topic so if it's sub-sub-topic that's what?

Whatever Kialo want's it to be it needs to made 1000x clearer. Even the help is unhelpful. It shows topic->pro->con which is uncontroversial. It needs to show topic->con->con or topic->con->pro. But of course most people won't click to the help so the actual form needs to make this far clearer.


Thanks for feed-back and giving us a try.

The fancy sunburst, currently, only appears on initial load of a discussion, we are thinking of changing that. You can open it by clicking the (i) on the thesis, or via discussion menu "Discussion Info".

The link one above is correct, if you want people to have viewer rights, (which allows them to vote and suggest claims). If you want people to have writers rights, where they can immediately write into a discussion, you have to go to share, enable the writers sharing link and paste that. We do not recommend using that for public posting though.

Generally speaking, claims are supposed to make sense and relate to their parent claim, the one directly above it. This is the only way to allow for linking, intermap linking and copying of branches into other debates.

In very large debates, with thousands of claims and levels, often, a discussion on level 10, is really only pertaining ot the parent, e.g. this is not relevant here or attacking the veracity of a statement. How this claim relates to the thesis on top, isn't anymore that relevant.

Due to linking, it would also be quite confusing, one time the claim is a pro, then a con. And most people read claims as relevant for the parent directly above. That's why we spell out the "Support /Attack parent". I think it's also in the intro video.


still not clear what "parent" is. that might be in your mental model as an engineer? but it's not in mine based on the site itself.

I see topic->con. click to dispute con. see con and under it "attack parent" . to me with con showing on the screen the parent is the topic not the con. if it was the con the prompt would read "attach this con" or "attack the statement above" .


We'll improve that wording, thanks for bringing it up.


People often think that if only everyone understood logic, we’d solve all the world’s problems.

But let’s say I’m a billionaire that made my fortune in the fossil fuel industry. You’re not going to reason me out of opposing any sort of carbon tax or cap. I simply don’t give a fuck if the world burns because my wealth depends on burning it. You’re not going to reason me out of that position.

And of course, I can’t get my candidates to win on a ‘fuck the planet’ platform so I do political science research and public policy polling so I can figure out how to cobble together a political coalition that can win, while having a ‘fuck the planet’ as a side effect. You have your pro-life people, your anti-immigration people, etc, all of whom are voting for different motivations and all of whom are using logic and reason to decide who to vote for in pursuit of those motivations.

Politics is about power and wealth and any attempt to improve ‘public debate’ that doesn’t recognize that is doomed to failure.


A subreddit with a similar idea: https://www.reddit.com/r/steelmanning/

Note that it is different from /r/CMV. Unlike CMV, Steelmanning wants to bring out the best form of either sides of an argument. The goal is not to change OP's views, but just to lay down the best arguments for lurkers to inform themselves with. It's more like /r/neutralpolitics but without the restriction to politics.


I started something like this a couple years ago, but it allowed hierarchy in the argument for either side, so that particular points could have 'justifications,' and the justifications could have their own, recursively—but a particular reader just dives as deep as they need to satisfy their personal curiosity. (There are shared justifications that you can link into your argument so you people aren't always wasting time justifying the same things; or you can share from just your own arguments you've written in the past). The debate format required that one proposition be addressed at a time, and the result of a debate is a reconciled hierarchy of claims/justifications. You could ask for critique on personal beliefs, have private debates, or public debates.

This looks like the closest thing I've come across since, and I like it, though I'm still curious about the format I was tinkering with...

(Also: funny side story: I e-mailed Leslie Lamport about the idea when I was still working on it [because of how I saw it relating to some ideas of his about writing proofs]. Out of respect for his privacy I won't say much about his reply other than that he was... not optimistic that folks would actually use it. I was also surprised by his generosity in reading about my idea and replying to me.)


What was it called? We are building this since 2011.


It was never launched—still sitting on my computer with along with a pile of other ideas/projects I haven't had time for ;) I don't have a version hosted at the moment, but here's a blog post I wrote on it: http://westoncb.blogspot.com/2015/06/improving-idea-represen...

Edit: it was tentatively named 'Hypothesis Crucible'. And I have no concrete plans to do anything with it anymore—I wish you guys good luck.


Thanks!


This is exactly like arguman's approach: http://en.arguman.org/


This is an idea that I (like many many other technical folks, I'm sure!) have given some thought it. I believe, this implementation, in it's current form, will not take off for the following reasons:

1) Most issues don't fall on a binary - and are not conducive to the pro/con, positive/negative, yes/no binary.

2) Most individual positions are not reached at one end of the spectrum. They start of near center gradually oscillate and deviate the more someone studies a subject. As such, a UX that places pros/cons front and center robs the reader of the actual learning/oscillating phase. I ask that you to find the source of any opinion you hold and try to reach back to it's source. You'll rarely find that it was a table that you studied and picked a side on.

4) Discussions should not center around individual issues. Rather it should be communities around a certain topic, where the discussions evolve and debates arise. The OP only does the latter -- which perhaps makes sense if say some communities like sub-reddits use it.

3) Expertise is not up for debate. An expert's opinion should not be moderated, or weighed, in the same way as a layman's opinion. you can argue for pure meritocracy, but an expert will simply not indulge in an environment when they have to prove their expertise day-in-and-day-out. The platform needs to acknowledge the parallels with how debates and opinions are shaped AFK.

(note above is purely for matters-of-opinions, not for matters-of-fact.)

Overall, what you don't need (and what's been done many times) is a table with all positions listed down. What you instead need is to solve for the larger problem, or handling moderation, reputation and expertise, because consensus and debates actually do care about the above. This does not mean anonymous/pseudonymous discussion is not possible, just that the framework has to allow for it in an integrated manner.

I have tried multiple implementations of above (not public-ally available), but none satisfactorily handled the above -- it is a hard problem to solve, so I commend and wish all the best to the Kialo team.


Thanks for your feed-back.

Re 1-3) Most discussions can actually be distilled to a single pointed issue or a very specific discussion (https://www.kialo.com/should-there-be-a-universal-basic-inco...).

You can then ask in a follow up, using a multi thesis discussion, which variant of e.g. legislation is the best (https://www.kialo.com/what-is-the-best-drug-regulation-syste...).

Or you can start with a multi and discuss various options, as e.g. done here: (https://www.kialo.com/who-will-win-the-game-of-thrones-1203)

It's really up to the discussion creator. Multis allow you to change the theses and add a "better" one, as happened in the drug legislation debate (I think).

Re 4) Do you remember nupedia, it didn't work. Wikipedia is not perfect, but the best resource we have to look up the "what". What we are building with the public site is a repository of the "why".

It doesn't require experts to write the reasoning of experts, which is what is happening, sometimes phds come in and post all the scientific papers pertaining to a position.

We agree that the hardest issue is actually moderation. When you have thousands of people chime in, as is the case with e.g. the UBI debate, you need a good system to filter for duplicates and trolls. That's why we implemented the suggestion system (https://support.kialo.com/hc/en-us/articles/115003791445-Sug...) and 5 different permission levels(https://support.kialo.com/hc/en-us/articles/115003877705-Par...).

This seems to work, as can be witnessed in the large debates. It's by no means perfect though and we are constantly improving it. The last bit we added was nested suggestions and suggestion commenting.

Again, thanks for your input. :)


I implore you to continue on the path you are -- it certainly does have a lot of potential! I'm after-all only an armchair expert providing a view :)

My overarching hypothesis is that perhaps a more holistic approach is what will change and engage peoples mind, as opposed to a technical listing down of all points of argument. For example the r/changemyview fosters a lot of such discussion. Even HN ends up being a great place gaining consensus on technology choices. What both have in place is that the audience is a targeted community, and there is some basic moderation in place.


That's interesting -- "kialo" is the Esperanto word for reason or motive.


Specifically "motive". "Racio", not "kialo", is "reason" in the sense of logical reasoning.


I feel after a brief initial read of the landing page that Kialo might be trying to do too much... It seeks to have debates over hot-topics in the public, but also wants to be a tool for private debates, or just for "private discussion?"

Then there's also a catering towards this being used in enterprises? I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a product, but the entrepreneur in me screams "too large of a scope!"


Agreed. It's one of our main issues, we are effectively three startups:

1 public discussions / repository of the why / community 2 free edtech solution 3 SAAS for decision-making, -preparation, ideation...

We have for now focussed on 1, as we consider it the hardest and most pertinent problem.

2 We are deploying a dedicated edu cluster in 2 weeks. Already quite popular for classroom debates (some Harvard profs being the first to use it), introducing students to controversial issues, etc

3 We provide teams for free right now and are building another cluster for them. (they too do not want to be inundated with gun / atheist debates)

In the end, our core, is something like a wiki technology. When we launched, we didn't know what would stick and now we have all three kind of sticking. 3 being the one that has received the least amount of love till now, as companies seem to be doing ok, regarding decision-making, even though everybody hates emails, chat and meetings...


I wish the venture good luck and hope its users gain.

I decided not to use it for various reasons including: 1. The situations I deal with cannot be reasoned through the skein of a boolean network. 2. The core of a useful discussion, in my mind, is talking with a few people who, in general, are each smarter / more knowledgeable in part of the discussion space, than I.

I didn't see provision for such things in Kialo.


Not sure, what would you want to see in Kialo for that?

We and others have tried that.

We gave experts a multi theses debate and let them discuss the various options (that's also what we do internally when having to decide things) and then looked at the outcome and switched through the perspectives to see what the individual experts thought.

Some use it in that way for board meetings. Instead of receiving memos that don't touch upon each other's points, you receive a Kialo in which all departments added their reasoning for why their favorite solution is good and the others' not.


@kialo requires 8 pros/cons for a discussion to be discoverable. That sounds like a draconian requirement that likely to damage the platform more, than it'll benefit it. I understand they are trying to keep the quality high, but if users cant discover new content daily, they wont be able to engage with it and will just churn…

Hope you guys will lower this limit, as the idea is truly great and Internet need a well-structured discussion platform!


Have you considered fading the text of low score claims?

Currently my attention is drawn to good and bad claims equally. Only after reading do I check the score and realize the claim is incorrect.

It wastes my time reading bad claims and the thought will stay with me regardless of quality.


We had filters already, but removed them about 2y ago...

The hordes would have been an issue, just coming in and downvoting claims that they disagree with.

When we switch from the all votes average, we might introduce them again. For individual perspectives, it would already make sense, you would then only see claims that a particular user voted of at least impact 2 or so.

I would not rely on the "impact votes" today, plus, the average is not really interesting. What is more interesting is how people that agree or disagree with the main thesis voted. (hint: what we'll be building)


Seems like a good platform. Layout looks quite nice. The sidebar opening transition is kind of choppy. Haven't written CSS in a while, but there seems to be quite a bit of layout re-calc happening when everything on the page shifts over.


Firefox?


That's right. Can't believe I forgot to include that. Firefox Developer Edition, macOS High Sierra, 13" MBP 2017. Everything latest update.


Being investigated. Thanks for feed-back!


This is great. I thought i'd use this platform to discuss the most important topic of this week — whether Kylie Jenner's wealth is self-made or not:

https://www.kialo.com/kylie-jenners-fortune-is-self-made-168...

;)


This is VERY similar to a site I helped write back in 2009 called RiledUp.com. Unfortunately it never took off.

I hope this platform has better luck.


Thank you! We are trying hard, meanwhile >4k public debates, some of which have ~3k unique (without multi-linking) arguments, 5x that in comments and thousands of participants. https://www.kialo.com/should-there-be-a-universal-basic-inco...


Cool. I was thinking about something like this for a long time. We need tools for more effective collective thinking.


Thanks. The best term we have found for it yet is collaborative reasoning platform, but that's a bit of a mouthful.


"groupthink" is shorter, but a bit tongue in cheek


Oh boy have we have had success with tongue in cheek, at least 100 twitter messages regarding those flat earth examples on the tour page, incl. support emails from astrophysicists... https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17486633


How can a platform enforce rationality?


You can't and we aren't. What is considered rational, is often cultural and builds on very different epistemological systems.

Thus all you can do in a collaborative reasoning platform like ours, is give everybody the tools to portray their reasoning as well as they can.

E.g. an underlying reason for somebody's arguments might be the existence of God. An atheist would consider this irrational, but the logic, given the underlying thesis, might be sound. So in the end, we are going to debate epistemology. Something, I feel, we don't do enough.

Nor are we taught in school enough how (utility vs happiness) to evaluate the different epistemological systems.


Perhaps I'm missing something, but are epistemological systems directly comparable?


On our site, or in general?

They broadly fall into, "science is knowledge" vs "whatever I want / feels right" is knowledge. We have perspectives, with which you can look at a believers vs a non-believers voting, other than that we are still waiting for the world to build AIs that can distinguish those....enough are working on this :)


In general. Again, I may be missing a trick here, but I don't see how there can be any objective way to evaluate different truth-finding systems against each other.


The only problem with radial fan-out design is that it doesn’t allow issues to reconnect as they evolve.


We do allow linking of arguments so that they don't have to be spelled out a gazillion times. Linking naturally also includes all their pro / cons underneath.


Symbolic logic is the flow of premise interacting with another premise to form a conclusion. And radial fan-out does not allow premises that are at the edge of the fan-out to correlate with each other for additional but new conclusion.


Did you have a look at the tree view, which follows when you enter the discussion? :)

And yes, we do allow multi-linking and intermap-linking of claims.


I think votes should not be more important than real scientific references in the evaluation of an argument.


But how do you have users rate the validity of the scientific references? Probably with votes.


Exactly, we often see discussions about linked papers underneath a claim, where then often the paper is taken out as a pro for the original claim, to make it clearer.

Also, many discussions have little scienitifi papers to use, e.g. most of the ethics and religion debates. "The Existence of God", "Theodicy"...


Unfortunately, Kialo does not have any features for structural reasoning, where the logical connections between arguments are completely formalized and precise. It relies on a human element to check each argument.

Edit: How to do this formally? Look at formal systems for hints of how to do it in the 1900s, or category theory for how to do it in the modern day. [0][1]

[0] https://arxiv.org/abs/1102.1889v2

[1] https://arxiv.org/abs/1706.00526


If arguments are too formal, people won't be able to naturally share them. It would become programming in a argumentation DSL. Maybe new NLP algorithms will be able to give you a mapping from natural language to a more formal one.


I agree and want to stress how interesting UX and NLP challenge this is. I believe there's a pragmatic solution to it.


We are all ears :)


In brief: Let's assume that we can build a formal DSL for expressing the discussion that we want to have. Then we can build a parser and natural language "code completer" that looks at your sentences as you type, checks partial sentences against a search index (ideally a well structured one) to lookup their 'type' or does pos-tagging some other way. Then it tries to match the tagged words and their order against the DSL. This matcher should be able to suggest syntactically valid natural language sentences that the user then selects from - as they type.

The point of using a search engine (like elastic) is that you can easily match against n-gram/fuzzy versions of the words. So you can write in a sloppy way and still have it be parse-able. (But that's standard code completion I guess.)


Possible, but how do you explain this to the less technically-minded people?


Not sure what you refer to when you are saying "this". The completion part or to explain the domain (of possibilities)?

Ideally, if you design it right you shouldn't need to explain the text completion. It adds value by allowing faster typing.

So ideally, you shouldn't need to motivate the feature further. It should pay for itself UX wise. This very much depends on you being able to match your DSL to the domain being discussed. If the domain is politics it is very hard but if the domain is discussion meta, it might be easier.

Another follow up issue is that you want to do more with the structured text. You want it to be interactive, and have effect on the rest of the UI. You want to reflect the semantics of what you're writing. For example, perhaps you can pick out data points from the DSL interpretation and pull it into a common visualization.

Compare with tagging people on Facebook. People do this sort of naturally. This could work in a similar way. Instead of showing suggestions when typing "Bob Smi" it would be suggestions when typing things like "child mortality in ". And the effect of the complete sentence could be to attach relevant data.


Formal logic can help to reveal unstated assumptions in reasoning. But disputes about these unstated assumptions, which often involve abstract ethical or metaphysical claims, can themselves be even more intractable.


In fact this is exactly where formal debates between intellectuals often wind up - on debating fundamental concepts in philosophy or science.

Any debate that has hope of progressing the state of argumentation about [topic] will include agreements on definitions and fundamental premises so they don't get bogged down there.


If only. A lot of intellectuals were trained in argumentation but not formal logic. The number of times I see `a => b` be equated to `b => a` is mind-rending, and that's not even getting into issues of causality.

A while back someone who stayed himself an intellectual posted a contrapositive of a statement as if it were a brilliant insight.


I'm not sure that getting "bogged down" by such questions is always a bad thing. Often these fundamental issues are, ultimately, the most important.


Agreed. It seems that the single biggest divider are epistemological systems and the ways people choose which to adhere to. That's a debate which I couldn't convince anyone to start yet.


I'll have that debate. I can't seem to find anyone to get into that either.

My proposal: You write a Medium post with your argument, I'll respond with my rebuttal/response on Medium. That's how the old guys did it, except with letters.


Good points, these things will come over time thoug. It's a fairly new platform and they are still finding their way.

I agree you need much more to make the comments more "unique".


We thought about doing something more formal.

The problem is, that argument mapping and other formal methods have quite a learning curve and do make it even harder for the general public to read / participate.


Honestly, I used Kialo for a bit and found the discussions were so formal that it's discussion lacked all substance and hence all interest (the debate I followed most heavily was the "should an AI be constructed" question).

What's interesting about debate on HN, when it is interesting and illuminating, is that each person debating makes their point while changing the framework of discussion, which questions are most important and so-forth.

I tend to think that the site could do better just having good moderators setting the terms of debate and letting people put forward their positions from there.


In a multi thesis discussion (https://www.kialo.com/2027) you can propose different theses.

The problem with evolving theses is that they invalidate a huge amount of claims and require many claims to be edited.

Threads, where you are not fixed on a particular thesis are of course often more fun, but bring their own set of problems. When a thread goes on for long enough, the different strands are discussing entirely different bits and pieces and newcomers are completely lost, plus the mixing of claims and commentary...HN is truly exceptional with regards to the quality of contributions and I agree, reading comments here is often a wonderful learning experience, one of the very few sites, where I first open the comments, then the linked article.

And yes, we are a bit dry. It's a bit like Wikipedia article editing, less like an enthusiastic commenting thread (https://twitter.com/KialoHQ/status/954461988960251904). But given the nature of our topics, we are happy about things being a bit drier. :)

Imagine the outcry if we forbade users to create their own discussions. We wouldn't have that tabs vs spaces debate (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17486949) :)


> The problem is, that argument mapping

This strikes me as exactly right. There is no obvious way to formally guarantee that the content of a person's argument actually matches the formal structure that they claim it has.


That's interesting, is there enough agreement on word-meanings that structural reasoning can coexist in some way (example: Someone could request a rewrite of a post to a structurally-reasoned format), or would the entire messaging system need some kind of re-do?


I think such a structural reasoning system needs it's own serious iteration to find the right form. It's a very interesting topic!


Hmm... calling a dog a duck doesn't make a dog a duck.



Mi ne pensas, ke Kialo estas kiala afero.


Ni afable konsentas :)


How does this tool keep stupid and evil people from participating?


Stupid is a problematic term, because many people use it to categorize people who are very smart and but adhere to questinable belief / epistemological systems.

People that are incoherent, don't normally get their claims accepted. The admins after all don't want gibberish in their debates.

People that have very different points of views, get their claims accepted and get them rebuked underneath. We believe that sunlight is the best disinfectant. You need to spell out bad thinking and then debunk it underneath.


This looks interesting, but in my cynical heart I’m afraid the issue isn’t the toolset, it’s the people.


I'm kind of the cynical type guy too, but that looks like an interesting initiative to me. What makes you think it's the people? Do you have experience with previous similar tools?

Also, you have to look at it with the expectation of a rise of automated moderation tools, and maybe even AIs entering into the debates.


We are waiting for IBM to unleash their Debate AI on us :)


Look out, it’ll just be a guy in a shiny box who makes tutting sounds whenever someone uses the word “fuck” and they bill by the picosecond.


But it's possible that the people who are drawn to use this toolset will be more interested in and committed to honest rational discussion than the mean.


I'm a strong proponent of using Technology to buttress human deficiencies. However, I have yet to see a technology that can adequately give scaffolding to support human reasoning in a way that doesn't exacerbate some bias.


[flagged]


That was a tongue-in-cheek example that many (https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/factche...) considered to be lighthearted, uncontroversial and settled. In case you wonder, we agree with this user's debate on the matter :) https://www.kialo.com/7216


Depends on what you mean by "rational". My understanding is that many flat-earthers of course don't seriously believe the earth is flat, and the argument is made as a form of artistic expression, which is to say that it is meant to demonstrate that rationality can be abused and does not inherently lead to truth.

One of Asimov's I, Robot stories did a similar thing, with a robot on a space station making rational arguments against the existence of earth.

Of course, there are also nutters...


There are also religious extremists who believe that a flat earth is strongly implied in the Bible. If I remember correctly, they point to a passage in which someone is shown the whole world, and the “idea” is that obviously you can’t see the whole surface of a sphere at once. sigh

Plus yes, nutters, obligate contrarians, and conspiracy theorists.


Would you please stop posting generic Reddit-style comments to HN? Religious flamewar is off topic here.


That wasn’t my intent, but I’ve also never been on Reddit so wouldn’t know. I didn’t realize that a religious precept from the 6th century was still so hot as to be flaming either.


That's silly. This is God we're talking about, if God wants to show you the entire surface of the earth at once I'm sure they can pull it off. Probably still has the blueprints if nothing else.


I’m with you, but religious extremists and rationality are like oil and napalm. It always struck me as odd that for religious types, “because god said so” isn’t enough. I guess it highlights a difference between just faith and scriptural literalism.




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