Every medium of communication has its own qualities - benefits and drawbacks. These qualities shape and limit the communications which can take place within that medium.
Long-form prose - the medium used in news articles, opinion pieces, congressional testimony, television interviews, etc - is one such medium. It has many defects, which impact our ability to find truth in the communications which are delivered in that medium. For example, long-form prose:
- has been around for many centuries and so the study of how to use it to confuse and manipulate people is very advanced. Propaganda and disinformation are very well understood in certain circles while the general public is by and large completely ignorant when these tactics are used against them.
- can include cherry-picked data, examples, and perspectives while excluding evidence which is not at all controversial among specialists.
- is fundamentally a persuasive medium. It's meant to bring the audience into agreement. It is not primarily a truth-determinating medium.
- spoken from a single perspective and does not include the strongest reasons to disbelieve what is asserted.
- is open to accusations of bias, because it is spoken from one voice and is primarily persuasive.
- are, for practical purposes, limited in their length.
- never include all of the information and evidence on any topic.
On the other hand, argument maps:
- is free of propaganda and manipulative rhetoric.
- are primarily truth-determination documents.
- are fundamentally unbiased, because they include perspectives from across the spectrum of belief.
- grow more complete, comprehensive, and accurate when they are accused of bias or being incomplete.
- can include all of the evidence and information on a topic.
- present the stronest rebuttals and counter-rebuttals right next to the assertions they are challenging.
In a world which is becoming unstable because people have been brought into power struggle with each other by the existing media establishment, and where controversies are never resolved while multiple new controversies are born every day, we need a new medium of communication, which brings all sides into communication with each other.
Argument maps start with a claim. For example, True or False: The moon landing was a hoax. From there, ideas are organized under the claim. Some ideas support the claim being true while other ideas either contradict or undermine the credibility of the claim. On Shared Reality, reasons are presented towards the right. Objections are presented towards the left. In the middle are "part" ideas. That is, where an idea has more than one part, those parts can be separated from all other ideas so that they may be considered on their own merits. "Part ideas" neither support nor undermine the credibility of their parent idea.
None of us can remember all of the details and arguments of each controversy the media presents us with. We need a place to 1) see all of these reasons in one place, and 2) allow the people who know everything about these ideas to present them in a format which the rest of us can use to gain clarity.
This means that no one person is responsible for understanding or including all of the information on a topic, which is an unreasonable expectation for anyone. But, together, we can gather all of the reasons, objections, and parts in one place, so the rest of us can better understand the most important issues of our day.
By using the argument map format, we can support meaningful and productive conversations - and a shared reality based on the best available evidence - for everyone.
Continue to Our Methods: The Sources