Making online argument collaborative, productive, and fun.
The problem we are trying to solve
Discourse is dying. Our public conversations are infected by demagoguery and manipulation. We are amidst a crisis of legitimacy - our society can no longer agree on who and what can be trusted and what is true.
Meanwhile, when someone makes a bogus claim - online, around the dinner table, at the bar, or at a press conference - there is no quick easy way to pull up the best evidence-based arguments against that claim.
Argument doesn’t work online. This is bad. Thoughtful, evidence-based argument is how we collectively figure out answers to difficult problems. The internet is our new public square, and for democracy to function, it desperately needs a platform that cultivates evidence-based argument.
Evidence Is The Answer
We can contribute to solving this crisis by making evidence accessible. We want everyone to be able to get the best evidence for any claim with a single click, and then get the evidence behind the evidence, and so on, as well as create their own arguments with this feature, and share them. When folks can see the evidence for themselves, quickly and easily, it gets a lot easier to decide who to trust, and our public arguments will be more effective.
We are building a visually intuitive online platform for creating, collaborating on, rating, sorting, and sharing evidence-based arguments. It's called Whysaurus.
Our innovation is to create a simplified form of “Structured Argument” - a method of expressing arguments as networks of claims - and wrap it in an engaging user experience. Users make character-limited claims, which can be supported or countered by other claims into infinity.
The database becomes a library of evidence, rated, sorted and structured - putting evidence at our fingertips.
Our mission is to improve the quality of public discourse by making evidence-based argument easier, faster, fun and collaborative, bringing together people who are passionate about good argument, and by organizing and sharing the best arguments. In doing so, we aim to strengthen evidence-based argument skills in our users and the broader public.
Where we are now
We’ve built an alpha. The core functions of the database work. The UX is a placeholder. About 1,000 users have participated so far. Try it here. We’ve run trials with The College Board, UC Berkeley, and IARPA via the Good Judgment Project’s Superforecasters. Data from these trials is encouraging and has given us UX ideas we’re really excited about. We are currently pursuing funding in order to iterate our front and back-end and grow the strength of our community.
The collaborators we are looking for
We are looking for programmers with a passion for this problem to join our team as partners. The ideal partners are based in NYC, but that’s not required.
We want to hear from you!
We're building a community of talented folks who want more evidence-based argument. Get in touch: joshua at whysaurus dot com.
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