Wikiarguments combines the collaborative power of Wikipedia with the power of the branch of mathematics called game theory. It could revolutionize world politics and government.
WikiArguments is well suited as a new Wikimedia project because it would utilize existing Wikipedia software interfaces and features with only modest new development efforts needed. But it would greatly expand the influence and utility of the Wikimedia free knowledge projects by providing a powerful new reference that would provide a means of forced accountability for politicians, which would quickly and effectively expose any government deceit.
WikiArguments would be an Internet-based reference where users can view the current “best” pro and the current “best” con (government) wikiarguments for ALL government bills, proposals, positions, etc. (arguments provided and maintained by government representatives). At the same time, users can view AND EDIT the current “best” pro and current “best” con (public) wikiarguments corresponding to each of the above-mentioned government-maintained arguments.
NOTE 1) WikiArguments does not violate Wikimedia’s position of political neutrality. It could not be construed as "political activism" because it takes no political position. Wikimedia merely provides the reference. The users of the reference would be the political activists, not the provider.
NOTE 2) WikiArguments is a general political reference that can be easily adapted to any system of government. For simplicity, I will describe it as it applies to the US government.
Like many people, when I first heard about the “wiki” concept behind Wikipedia I thought it was interesting, but probably foolhardy. I assumed chaos would surely rule such a wide open collaborative system. But months later, after giving it more thought, I was suddenly struck by the sheer brilliance and power of the idea. It was a moving “aha” moment for me.
Years later, while attempting to analyze our political system using game theory principles, it suddenly occurred to me that the collaborative power behind Wikipedia could be harnessed to solve the world’s supreme political problem, the political problem that encompasses practically all other political problems, big money influencing government. It was another moving “aha” moment for me.
Politics is clearly a game subject to the mathematics of game theory. Like ordinary games it has rules, objectives, strategies, and winners and losers. The essence of the game of politics is the buying and selling of political influence. Thus the driving force in the game of politics is money. Generally, the more money a player has to spend, the more political influence that player can buy. But the monetary value of bought political influence is determined by its effectiveness, which depends heavily on politicians’ skills at deceit.
Why is deceit vital to bought political influence?
Players aren’t paying big money for political influence to pass fair legislation that benefits the American people, they’re paying big money for unfair legislation that benefits special interests (or to defend themselves from such unfair legislation). Since members of Congress claim to represent the interests of the American people, they MUST regularly use deceit to hide their efforts to enact special interest legislation. If members of Congress knew that any deceit by them would be publicly exposed (on the Internet) almost immediately, it would be very difficult to enact special interest legislation.
The effectiveness of bought political influence would be greatly reduced (thus greatly reducing its monetary value), which would virtually eliminate big money influencing government. Sound too good to be true? Please read on.
How could we guarantee Congressional deceit would be exposed immediately?
WikiArguments would provide a secure mechanism for anonymous public (wiki) arguments that expose government deception, but, more importantly, it would also provide a simple system of forced Congressional accountability where our "representatives" could no longer avoid giving us clear, rational justifications for their positions (instead of the evasive, specious claptrap many give us now).
WikiArguments would impose just one simple requirement on members of Congress: they would be required to justify and defend their collective positions on legislation using clear, rational (wiki) arguments (one wikiargument for each side of an issue posted on the Internet so they can be easily scrutinized by the public). That's it. There would be no other requirement. It would probably have to be voluntary in the beginning, but it would tend to attract “honest” politicians who don’t need deceit to justify their positions. It would also tend to stigmatize “dishonest” politicians who refuse to post arguments justifying their positions.
If members of Congress could no longer lie to us, they would find it nearly impossible to enact special-interest legislation. Corporations would stop spending big money trying to bribe Congress because Congress could no longer deliver the goods. The extremely lucrative lobbying market of buying and selling political influence would crash because bought political influence would become essentially worthless.
The philosophy behind WikiArguments; why it would revolutionize government
Our current political system, with crucial help from mainstream media, allows and even promotes blatant deception and evasion by our government representatives. They're never forced to justify their positions with clear, rational arguments (written down so they can be scrutinized).
Currently, sponsors and supporters of unreasonable legislation typically offer shallow, specious justifications and then simply evade inquiry. Mainstream media do little to challenge these specious justifications and when they do, our representatives simply spout more specious nonsense until the clock runs out.
A WikiArguments system would prevent this evasion because it would require our representatives to not only justify their positions initially, but, more importantly, to defend them from ongoing inquiry using clear, rational, written arguments. Unlike the ephemeral TV interviews, "debates", and public statements by our representatives, their “best” arguments would always be right there on the Internet subject to scrutiny and inquiry by the American people.
The sheer idiocy of our current political system is easily illustrated. Unlike Congress, our Supreme Court gives us their best rational arguments - pro and con - to justify their votes (with both sides posted on the Internet for our scrutiny and comparison). Imagine if Supreme Court Justices weren't required to justify and defend their conclusions with clear, written, rational arguments. Suppose they could just vote and evade inquiry. Would we not see the assault on truth and sheer idiocy of such a system?
Imagine if scientists weren't required to justify and defend their positions with clear, written, rational arguments. Suppose they could just present their conclusions and evade inquiry. Would we not see the assault on truth and sheer idiocy of such a system?
So why don't we see the assault on truth and sheer idiocy of a political system that allows our representatives to evade giving us their best rational arguments for their positions (with both sides posted on the Internet for our scrutiny and comparison)? Is the integrity of our Congressional conclusions somehow less important to our lives than the integrity of our Supreme Court conclusions or our scientists' conclusions?
Is it not sheer idiocy to hold our Supreme Court and scientists to a high standard of truth, completely abandon that standard of truth for members of Congress, and then expect anything other than the immense wake of human suffering - clearly caused by our corrupt government - here and throughout the world?
General Aspects of a WikiArguments system
The American people would be able to visit an Internet site and view clear, rational arguments for all Congressional bills - pro and con - side by side for easy comparison. We wouldn't need mainstream media pundits to interpret government policies for us; we'd be getting both sides right from the horse's mouth. Evasions and flawed reasoning by either side would quickly become apparent. A search capability would allow us to find the current best arguments - pro and con - for any bill in Congress.
When a bill is introduced, those representatives initiating the bill would be required to post a clear, rational (wiki) argument explaining the merits of the bill. Those opposing the bill would then be required to post their corresponding clear, rational (wiki) argument explaining why the bill is unreasonable and shouldn't pass.
What makes a WikiArguments system such a powerful weapon against government deception and evasion is this: the individual arguments are dynamic. As you will see, dynamic arguments prevent lots of mischief and tend to punish liars while rewarding truth-tellers. The individual wikiarguments would be managed much like Wikipedia articles except there would be multiple articles per subject (pro and con arguments) instead of the one article per subject in Wikipedia.
Thus all members of Congress would be able to edit - update and improve - the wikiarguments they favor. Both sides of an issue would be free to update their respective wikiargument as new facts emerge, to correct mistakes, or to highlight flaws in the opposing wikiargument. In this manner, wikiarguments for both sides - pro and con - would evolve as collaborative efforts, which would converge toward a “best (consensus) argument for each side of any given issue (bill).
A WikiArguments system would differ significantly from a forum-type venue - where people argue back and forth - because the emphasis is on an evolving, converging, end product: the current “best” argument(s) for each side of an issue. The emphasis would be on building a clear, concise, rational argument for a given position, which would then compete with its corresponding (opposing) argument openly on the Internet.
The American people would watch as wikiarguments for each side evolve and do battle on the Internet. Our representatives would not be able to fool us with deceptions because any evasions, flaws, speciousness, or other deceptions would be promptly emphasized in the corresponding opposing wikiarguments, which would be posted on the Internet for the entire world to see.
But unreasonable bills are often supported by both political parties because both are typically bribed by the same big money. How would a WikiArguments system force our representatives to post honest arguments against such unreasonable bills? By providing two additional - pro and con - shadow (public) wikiarguments for each issue that could be edited anonymously by anyone on earth, like Wikipedia entries.
The American people would have direct input to legislation through these "shadow" wikiarguments. A visitor to the site would view two pairs of pro and con wikiarguments per issue (bill), one pair maintained by members of Congress and a corresponding pair maintained by the public at large. If our representatives were in cahoots, and not providing a cogent wikiargument against an unreasonable bill, the corresponding (con) public wikiargument would expose the disingenuous (con) government argument.
Cogent wikiarguments would stand out starkly from specious wikiarguments. Why? Because it's relatively easy to construct clear, cogent arguments when truth is on your side. But when truth isn't on your side, the best you can do is clever specious arguments. But even clever specious arguments couldn't possibly survive the vast, powerful inquiry an Internet-based WikiArguments system would subject them to. The whole world would be watching and someone would point out any flaws or deceit. Dishonest politicians would no longer be able to hide from us and shrink from inquiry.
Again, WikiArguments would impose just one simple requirement on our members of Congress: they would be required to justify and defend their collective positions on legislation using clear, rational arguments (posted on the Internet so they can be easily scrutinized). That's it. There would be no other requirement.
Why WikiArguments can't be defeated by clever politicians
The effectiveness of WikiArguments doesn't require the American people to be skilled logicians who can easily recognize subtle deceit in clever Congressional arguments. No matter how clever the deceit in a given pro (government) wikiargument, some member of Congress on the opposing side will see through the deceit and expose it in the corresponding con (government) wikiargument.
Even if a clever specious argument fools every member of Congress on the opposing side (a highly unlikely event), or if both sides are in collusion as is often the case, someone in the public (which includes anyone on earth with an Internet connection) is sure to see through the deceit and could immediately expose it in the corresponding opposing (public) wikiargument.
Under a WikiArguments system, it would only take one member of Congress or one member of the public to expose any Congressional deceit. Most people can easily see even clever or subtle deceit if it's pointed out to them in clear language. It would be virtually impossible for a member of Congress to deceive us with specious wikiarguments because the whole world would be watching, ready to expose the deceit in a wikiargument on the Internet.
The wikiarguments would be organized and managed almost exactly like the articles in Wikipedia. It would be THE Internet reference site for the current “best” collaborative argument for both sides of all political issues/bills/positions (just as Wikipedia is THE Internet site for the current “best” collaborative entry for each subject).
*****RAMBLES ON THE FEATURES OF A POLITICAL “WIKIPEDIA”
Talk pages would be powerful enforcers of truth
Every member of Congress would have a talk page that only other members of Congress could edit, but these talk pages would be visible to the general public. It may turn out talk pages in a political Wikipedia will expose more truth than the actual pro and con wikiarguments. Here’s why:
Honest members of Congress could post clear, very short, key argument challenges to talk pages of dishonest members of Congress thereby forcing accountability. If they evade the challenge, the whole world will see. If they “answer” the challenge with specious reasoning, their deceit will be obvious (to someone in the world if not the honest representative who made the challenge) and their deceit could be pointed out on their talk pages. Of course it will be recorded until the end of time (revision history) so they can be politically “hanged” with their deceit forever.
Honest government representative would always be at an advantage under a WikiArguments system. All edits of all wikiarguments would be “signed” so the world would always know which member of Congress made which change (thereby making it virtually impossible for a representative to make undetected deceptive changes to the wikiarguments).
All editors would share the same general POV
This may be a small point, but unlike the encyclopedic Wikipedia, where controversial articles may have strong POV differences among editors, in a political Wikipedia the editors always share the same (either pro or con) POV depending on which of the four wikiarguments per subject they are editing. Maybe a little more editing peace on a political Wikipedia?
- 1. Wikimedia is not a place for American politics, regardless of stance. 2. Promotes people thinking that WikiLeaks and Wikimedia are related by founding a similar project. 3. Any such information that this could have would be biased. There is no possible way that multiple perspectives could be cultivated on this providing an unbiased point of view. Ajraddatz (Talk) 17:01, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
- I'm not really sure how it would work - it would be mostly original research, arbitrary, subjective, and have a lot of disputes. Ottava Rima (talk) 17:08, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
Is this related to http://de.wikiarguments.net/ ?
- How about WikiGovernment where there is different articles for different places and people from those places can discuss how to run their area in an open format? I remember hearing about places that are doing this.. --Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 00:36, 23 October 2011 (UTC)
- PRO vs CON is 2POV, not NPOV. This is somewhat outside wikimedia scope (and -perhaps as importantly- might not be as productive as you think). If you could rephrase the proposal to reach consensus and NPOV, you might manage to take this a long way. --Kim Bruning 20:35, 28 October 2011 (UTC)
- I think it sounds like a good idea. However, I don't think it's one that the Wikimedia Foundation should fund. The wiki software is free, so anyone can go ahead and run with this project themselves, not that I underestimate the difficulties of getting any such project to hit a critical mass to the point it could be deemed any kind of a success. I also think that where it is likely to fail, even if the public gets behind it, is in the required participation of elected representatives. They evade questions from the media, they would simply evade participation in such a site; in other words, what's in it for them? If they don't see votes in it, they'll run a mile. I also somewhat disagree that elected representatives do not currently have their arguments written down for scrutiny: the debates are written down and published for the public. In the UK (where I am) this is done in Hansard and there is a more user friendly version of that record provided by a website called "They Work For You" where users can comment alongside the Parliamentarians' statements (though not many people do, as far as I can see). But I do like the idea of having a pro/con section for each issue: that should mean that people could be stopped (by policy) from deleting arguments they disagree with as the pro page could be limited to just those arguments that fit. Same with the con page. Ring-fencing arguments in this way may stop pages just becoming never-ending flame wars. --Bodnotbod 15:32, 3 November 2011 (UTC)
>"...where it is likely to fail, even if the public gets behind it, is in the required participation of elected representatives. They evade questions from the media, they would simply evade participation in such a site; in other words, what's in it for them?"
Such evaders would be assumed dishonest if they refuse to justify their positions. Honest representatives (with truth on their side) would gladly justify their positions openly on the site.
“It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.”—Thomas Paine