Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The Quality of the Debate

Perhaps the quality of political decisions is directly proportional to the quality of the preceding debate. If so, how would we ensure the best quality debates? What would be the anatomy of a great debate?

  1. Every opinion should be expressed.

  2. Ineloquent opinions should be clarified.

  3. The premise of every opinion should be sought.

  4. Assumptions should be explored.

  5. The evidence should be gathered, analysed and ranked for its quality.

  6. Statistical analysis should be well founded (e.g. correlations don't always mean cause and effect).

  7. New evidence should be gathered and fed into the debate.

  8. There must be sufficient time.

  9. Verbal opinions should be collated and written down to allow people to review them.

  10. The impact and consequence of every suggestion should be analysed.

  11. The administration of every suggestion should be considered.

  12. The cost of every suggestion, estimated.

The question then becomes how do we conduct such an enormous undertaking on a regular basis? No one could possibly involve themselves in every aspect of every debate! No one could possibly calculate every consequence of every idea.

Interactive Democracy relies on formal debate in Parliament, contributions on the ID web site and many separate debates, each one imperfect, conducted among friends, colleagues, acquaintances and, very importantly, through the media. All opinions are then combined through a ballot.

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