Side note: I think diet advocates and climate enthusiasts would be in for a bit of a shock from such a resource when they have to deal with the fact that epidemiology and model building are some of the weakest forms of evidence. But I digress.
Such a website would allow people to gain insights, by gathering individual bits of evidence observed in various news articles, research papers, etc. and linking them together to form a larger picture.
> I would love to see this baked into a social network as a substrate for semi-structured debate.
Gaining insight and collecting disparate facts to form a bigger picture, an "argument map", with the ability for others to collaborate--that's exactly it.
However in addition to all the great use cases you've outlined, I also see potential for personal use, particularly in making structured decisions.
For example, purchasing decisions: researching to buy or not to buy widget X (in my case recently, sentiment analysis on stocks). With the creation of a simple browser plugin that allows you to highlight text and quickly add it to the map, it would make it easy to centralize all misc pieces of information supporting/rejecting a decision. Supporting "evidence" added this way will automatically link to the source, and optionally snapshot the page to ensure context of the particular supporting evidence is never lost.
I think it would be a fun project to create. If you ever think to actually work on this, or if you're interested in working on this together, let me know!
I actually just started seriously thinking about it again over the last few weeks, so this HN comment thread is really surprising! I'm definitely interested in helping with development, and maybe sponsorship at some point in the future.
EDIT: This HN thread was the kick I needed to get started, although I don't know how much time I'll be able to spend on it. I'm really busy with my startup, so this will have to be an evening/weekend project for now. I've just registered FactGraph.org. (I'm not 100% sure about the name, but I haven't been able to think of any better names.)
Names like KnowledgeGraph etc were what I came up with previously. I'll check my notes, think I had a few other good ones..
About the side note, what forms of evidence do you think are stronger?
I guess you probably mean something like "taking into account human element", but all I can see when someone says "rational thinking isn't a solution" is something that boils down to "2+2 = 4 doesn't feel right to me, 2 cows plus 2 apples is not like 4 cows, therefore math isn't the answer". There are rules to thinking, and just because some people fail to use those rules correctly, doesn't mean the rulebook is bad.
(I don't know if by reference to provoking a nuclear war you mean MAD, but I think there's a solid argument that MAD saved us from nuclear war, and if people relied instead on more emotional calculus, we'd nuke ourselves to extinction a long time ago.)
> What else than rationality would be better? Gut feelings? Emotional arguments?