Category Archives: Bentley

Truth Mapping Logo

TruthMapping.com Analysis

I am ecstatic that I found a site that so closely matches up with my values on debate . Here is TruthMapping.com :

TruthMapping.com lists several ways it makes debate more productive in their about page that I summarize here:

  • Manage context to keep discussion on topic
  • Encourages more content than noise by showing the latest version of an iterated discussion.
  • Reduces digressions by breaking the discussion into it’s component parts.
  • Removes the time limitations which keeps discussions focused
  • Exposes Assumptions because you have to state your assumptions to defend your points

These are fantastic goals that are implemented in this website.

The TruthMapping.com Process

The process on TruthMapping.com can be seen in the video above and I summarize here. A creator creates a topic. The creator can add other single statements or concepts that support the statement. If those statements have supports then they are called conclusions. If not, they are called premises. This is shown in a tree diagram with the topic at the bottom with the conclusions and premises forming a triangle up ad to the right. The creator then publishes the map to the site. Others can comment on individual premises or conclusions and indicate if they agree or not.

Similarities to the Statement Graph (what became Truth Scale)

  • Main topic with supporting statements in a tree structure
  • Statement without supports are considered assumptions (premises)

Differences from the Statement Graph

  • Premises are similar to assumptions but have a slightly different connotation
    • A premise implies that it is intentionally not able to be broken down further. An assumption implies that more information can be added inviting others to participate.
  • The tree is represented in reverse to the statement graph
    • The statement graph starts with the main statement(topic) so the the person reading it can choose if they want to expand it further. If they agree with a statement there is no reason to expand it. If they disagree then they can open it up and find out what they did not know or add what is missing. You can then follow the path to only read what you are interested in and skip over things you already agree with.
  • Interactions is through a comment system
    • A comment systems appears to work well in TruthMapping.com. For the statement graph we considered and may still add a comment system but the original intent is for others to directly change and add statements. We do not yet have a way for the feedback to the original creator which is a gap in the minimal initial deployment. In the future we believe we will have a way for others send suggested changes to the creator. Comments would only be used if the reader identified a problem but had no suggested solution.
  • No Cons
    • TruthMapping.com suggests only using supporting statements. The Statement Graph hopes to contain all facts (all angles) on a topic so it has both pros and cons.
  • Rating System
    • TruthMapping.com has built in ratings and an easy display of the ratings. This in on the potential list for Statement Graph at a later version but I would prefer people to add a statement than to rate one. Rating is a great feature on TruthMapping.com
  • No Calculations
    • The Statement graph takes all the weighted pros and cons and calculates how truthful a statement is based on it’s children. It is not perfect and may not be of value but it is a features TruthMapping.com does not have.
  • Hyperlinks
    • TruthMapping.com allows for hyperlinks in the graph to external documents. We have not yet implemented hyperlinks in the Statement Graph site.

Summary

TruthMapping.com is a great website for mapping out arguments and reasons. I suggest that you try it out to see how it can benefit your arguments.

The Future

TruthMapping.com was initially created in 2006 which was a long time ago in internet years. I was able to chat with the founder and they are working on some enhancements but can’t say yet when they will be available. He agreed to let me know when they are ready to speak about them. I ‘m looking forward to it.

Bliss Language

End War with a new language: a previous experiment

As I work on my experiments to make the world a better place I am intrigued by past attempts. Today I was pleased to hear a Radio Lab broadcast of the story of Charles Bliss.

“Bliss believed that war was often caused by the misuse of language, and he believed it could be overcome if we could create a way to communicate the truth without the trickery of words.”

Bliss Language

a piece of stained glass art by Shirley McNaughton, called “Communication.” It’s composed of 10 Bliss symbols

Mr. Bliss watched how the Nazis twisted language while he was in a concentration camp. He decided to create a language using symbols so the meaning could not be manipulated. It never caught on but it was used successfully in helping kids that could not communicate regularly due to cerebral palsy. The children could use the symbols as a path to learn to read and write.

Bliss was at first elated to see his language used, but he began to be frustrated as the symbols were added to and modified to better meet the needs of the children using it. His language was being changed from his perfect design to a specific purpose losing its potential to stop war. He eventually sued the charity using his symbols limiting their ability to help sick children.

Lessons to remember for our experiments

Look to the Past Also

In finding this story I was reminded that we should look at the past before re-inventing the wheel. When we get an idea we should see what other similar ideas have been tried in the past. Let’s get researching!

We Will Never Reach Our Potential

Bliss seemed to be satisfied with the good that his project provided because he wanted so much more. We can often see a potential that will never be realized. We should be pleased with the results that do appear. The end may not be our vision but it is usually good.

Dream Big and Good Things May Happen

Even if our ideas do not bring about all we hope for there is usually an unexpected benefit that we can realize. The bigger we dream the more possibility there is for something unexpectedly good to come about.

Think it Through

I believe in the end symbols can be perverted the same way words can be. The symbol of the Nazi party the swastika meant “being with higher self” or “to be good” and was a good luck symbol. Now a significant number of people see it as a symbol of evil.

Appreciate the effort of others

Initially Mr. Bliss felt unappreciated for this time he spent trying to make the world a better place. He seemed elated to find his work used. I think in the end he did not feel adequately appreciated. I thank Charles Bliss for his courage and passion to do something so noble.

What is Skepticism?

I have head the term skepticism used as a movement but I hadn’t run across a good definition until I saw SciShow’s video introduction to their International Skeptics Day Play list. I thought it sounded a lot like what I am working on.

“Skepticism is about a desire to inquire, to want things to be explained and to want to discover truth.” – Hank Green

Hank says “Skepticism is about a desire to inquire, to want things to be explained and to want to discover truth”. He goes on to say that his opinion is that it is not about forcing a world view on other people or criticizing other people’s understanding of the world. What I am working on is at heart about documenting the reasons behind every point of view and to find ways to share and explore them in a positive way. A statement graph offers one way to explore some types of complex topics and organize the information in a way that can be auctioned. The Wikipedia article on skepticism was in a similar vein to Hank’s definition but is not limited to positive interactions. The Wikipedia topic is a bit broader while Hank is saying what it means to him and how he hopes others will perceive it. I like Hank’s definition better and hope we can pursue it.

Improved Standing Desk

About a year ago I tried to make a standing desk. I ended up having to take it down because I couldn’t comfortably and safely fit my knees under it. I did discover that I liked the idea of having a standing desk. This year I finally got around to version 2.

I took some old stone steps I had and put my desk on them. For when I do get tired standing I have an old adjustable chair that can go very high and is just the right height. The stone work gives a good manly DIY feel. When I took this picture I had not swept up the dirt from outside where the stones were stored. You can tell by the paint that my home office is more function over form.

It really encourages standing because when you come to the desk it’s actually an inconvenience to sit down. It’s easier to just walk up and begin working. Hopefully it won’t be too easy to walk away.

Here is a close up of the stones so you can more easily see that the desk is now 11 inches above the floor.

Standing              Desk Closeup

 

Why You Should Discover Your Unique Values

I believe if you ask most people, they would feel like they know their values. I wonder how many they could name them quickly. Do they know the order of their values? Could they explain why they have those values. Could they explain how their values impact their lives? Today, in the information age, there are so many inputs and options that if you simply follow the passion of the moment you can end up in a place you would never have intentionally gone. When you encounter an opportunity, do you have a way of quickly assessing it? When you have many things to do, do you have a benchmark to order them by?

When my son turned 19 he was struggling to find his place. I found out that he didn’t really want to go to college. Through our talk I discovered that he was floundering to find focus in college. He didn’t have a direction in life so working hard at college didn’t have an immediate enough payback. He got a job at a comic book store and considered going to college sometime in the future.

I was frustrated because I was in a position to hire people and I have to filter through many resumes and in one of the first passes we remove all the ones without degrees. It’s just a way to weed down the resumes to a manageable number. I decided to go back to college and get a degree for just this reason. I had a good job making good money but in a down financial climate an extra edge is good to have. I had to get my transcripts from the first time I went to college to apply again and it turned out I had forgotten that my GPA was 1.6 (D+). It was only that high because I got 1 A for rehearsal when I did costuming for a play which I got paid for. Memories of that time flooded back. I was enjoying being young and fee but I had no direction. The many options in life just seemed a lump of equally boring opportunities.

How did I break out of the young adult doldrums? Well, I had a child. Half way through my second semester of college I found out I was going to be a father. It wasn’t planned. I was actually relieved to leave college and get a real job, and job. That started a twenty year career in the hospitality industry and software development where I passed away time and followed my abilities and took advantage of random opportunities.

Now I’m about to turn 40 and I look back over an amazingly lucky life. My focus had been to provide for my son but now that he is mostly self sufficient I began to think about what I want to do when I grow up. I’m having a mid life awakening.

So, do you have to know your values? No. Would it have helped? I believe so. I found a great book Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh – CEO of Zappos.com. It’s a personal story of how Tony struggles with his own passions and discovered how to be happy. It also has great information on the study of happiness.

This book also had some great online resources including a link to a great way to discover your core values with the Mountains and Valleys exercise from Culture Sync. I went through the exercise but I also put my own spin on it. I worked for a large company that had 6 core values but they were each one word. I found that a single work tends to sound too vague to get a picture in your mind. Also, we all really value food, shelter, and companionship but we probably wouldn’t name these in a list of values. These are just what you value but also should be the values that make you unique or bind you to a group. They should define who you are and who you want to be. Your values can change over time so It would be good to schedule some time on your calendar to revisit them.

Here is what I came up with this time.

  • Intentional Universal Love
  • Eloquent Exhaustive Paced Cooperative Continuous Information
  • Solve Real Problems
  • Automate the Boring

I plan on using these to judge who I work for and how I spend my free time

What are your values?

How have they impacted your life?

Have you see any other good practices for focusing your life?

Woodpecker Photo Achievement Unlocked

WoodpeckerFor the ten years I have owned my house a woodpecker would stop by every so often and I could never get a good picture of him. I got a whole lot this time and this is the best. He’s still a little out of focus as my auto focus  detected the tree but it looks good. Not I just need shot of the beautiful hawks that seem to be so common over the past few years. I was also just looking through some shots from last month and I just found one where an egret has a fish in it’s beak. I assume the purple glow was due to a dirty lens. Have you had any lucky shots?

 

The History of Rhetoric

I really liked this episode of Engines of our Ingenuity about rhetoric.  It discussed the history of rhetoric as a skill of persuasion taught by the Sophists in the fifth century BC.

“Sophist rhetoric was attacked by Plato, who believed in arguments based on logic. To Plato, logical arguments led to truth, a far nobler goal than simply winning an argument.”

Today most people would agree that you must be good at both discerning the truth and persuading others of it. I believe that there is much more training available on how to persuade than to discern truth. Are we a group of people eloquently persuading others of false truths? I think it’s time to learn from the past and look up some Plato and Aristotle.

Have you received more training in using persuasion or finding truth?

Social Argument Experiment #1 the Statement Graph

Update: This experiment later turned into Truth Scale which then turned into SettleIt.org

As the saying goes, “If you are not embarrassed by your first release then you waited too long.” I am now embarrassed to show you what I have been working on. Your feedback would be greatly appreciated so I can improve it. The idea is to put some structure around discussions on the internet. It’s hard to follow a stream of comments, even when they are threaded. You can miss that one fact that can change your perspective. Here is an idea, have people hang their statement on the previous statements and then show the relationship between the statements. Here is an example video of how we could explore a graph of statements to learn more about a subject. (please excuse the bad audio, choppy editing and frequent typos)

Here is a sample you can play with: I would appreciate any thoughts you have in the comments.

Dysfunctional Debate

“The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” was one of my inspirations for working on debates. It describes in story form how many teams are dysfunctional. One of the dysfunctions caught my eye. Patrick Lencioni labels it “Fear of Conflict”. Conflict( or debating) is often so traumatic that people choose not to fight.

“It’s the lack of conflict that’s a problem. Harmony itself is good, I suppose, if it comes as a result of working through issues constantly and cycling through conflict. But if it comes only as a result of people holding back their opinions and honest concerns, then it’s a bad thing. I’d trade in that false kind of harmony any day for a team’s willingness to argue effectively about an issue and then walk away with no collateral damage.”

I see both issues around me. I have mutual friends that do not talk at all because they have deep seated beliefs that explode with collateral damage whenever the topic is brought up. I encourage you to read this book. If you wish, you can purchase “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” through this link

 

Let me know your thoughts and other books around this topic in the comments below.

All Angles Values

Update: I was working on an organization called All Angles but before I got too far I found out that there were many organizations already out there working on productive debate, The world did not need a new organization. The world needs more cooperation. I have joined the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation. Below are the values I wanted in an organization:

We Value:

  • clear and direct communication
  • understanding over winning
  • other people’s perspectives, knowledge and experience
  • discovering new ways to debate productively
  • increasing the frequency of productive debates
  • tools to encourage productive debates
  • documentation organized for quick and accurate understanding
  • improving our values through productive debate

What are we missing? Is there a better way to say it? Improve our values by commenting below.