We are all the products of a certain education, as well as of a certain social conditioning. The impact of our backgrounds on how we form our ideas – from our families, to professional situations, to society in general – is undeniable. Often, we tend to repeat opinions which we have made our own, but that in reality are only the product of our environment(s).
Yet, the scope of all opinions is considerably broader than that of the opinions which we each hold. Why, then, should our opinions be better or better-founded than those of people with whom we disagree? In fact, how can one even have a truly informed opinion on any given subject? Indeed, everyday life is full of obstacles impeiding the development of a so-called “free thought”.
Firstly, moments of true debate which, through an exchange of thoughts, help form a critical opinion, are extremely rare. Often, “debates” are merely ego clashes, where anything goes to triumph over an adversary: rhetoric trumps arguments, emotion comes before ideas; information is lost to entertainment. One can only see how television, for instance, tends to turn any debate into a heated joust, where “debate warriors” are mostly trying to overcome an adversary.
Because, too often, discussion rhymes with argument; for fear of conflict, for fear of being wrong, we avoid confrontation. Either because we pretend to be debating, and propose a series of interventions without interaction – in the manner of a juxtaposition of monologues; or because we don’t incorporate opposing objections and criticism of the ideas we defend, and to which we should be able to answer to, if we claim to be right.
The biases raised above too often leave little room for the formation of critical thought, even in existing resources such as books, brochures, websites, online forums, militant campaigns, etc.
This is why it seems essential today, with the development of the internet and the possibility offered by hypertext links:
- to be able to access comprehensive information
- to set up a virtual space dedicated to the confrontation of opinions, showing, for each of them, the reasons behind it and the objections that face it.
We would then have a tool allowing us to easily acquire rationally founded opinions - i.e. based on solid knowledge of the claims and evidence that can back them. Wikidebates’ goal is to achieve this.