The System you are viewing was born from the frustration of never resolving arguments, debates, disputes or disagreements in a satisfying manner.  My own experience in many of these confrontations have been the extremes of one party terminating the discussion with a derisive remark and "lets just drop the whole thing", to a wimpy statement such as “well, we're only differing in semantics and we're really saying the same thing". The frustration goes further in debating someone who refuses to obey the laws of logic.


         The process you will be looking at was suggested by a System called The Oracle of Delphi that was developed at the Rand Corporation in the late 1950s. A description of that System and its objectives can be obtained at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delphi_method. Without belaboring the differences and/or similarities between the Delphi and this, which you are about to view, I will state that the major parallel lies in the objective of obtaining a consensus of the participants to resolve an issue. That is, each participant is not attempting to win the debate, but rather, to move the opposition closer to his views ultimately reaching a compromise everyone can live with. It has been my contention that any dispute can be presented in a logical manner and displayed pictorially, thus facilitating understanding by all parties.


         A picture lends itself to certain quantitative assignments, which lead us to objective assessments. Assignments are not "rocket science" but rather, simple numeric values that are assigned to various portions of the display and will ultimately lead to a single value that indicates "who's winning". Each participant can view the arguments structured by other players, suggest modifications to existing arguments, make modifications when the participant is the owner/controller and clone an issue when his view is too far apart from the owner's view.


         Perhaps we've gotten ahead of ourselves and clouded the discussion with too much detail. A simple overview of our system follows.  You, as a user of the system develop an outline of your issue and input the detail into the system.  You can make this issue available for viewing by all other users.  You are the owner and sole controller of the issue so no other viewer can change what you have done.  Viewers can propose changes to you in ways that will be addressed later. You are not dependent on other users to evolve your conclusions.  You can progress thru the phases of an issue by being your own devil's advocate. The progression thru the process is given as three steps:


1.           Present an issue in a pictorial format which we dub the anatomy of the debate. This format is derived from a basic outline that is provided by you, the user.  Until the anatomy is agreed upon by all participants, to be a fair representation of an issue under consideration, it is said to be in phase 1.

2.           In phase 1 above, all branches beneath a given heading are assumed to be equally important.  In phase 2, we begin to negotiate the importance to be ascribed to each branch. Only when we are in agreement on the importance values, do we progress to phase 3.

3. In phase 3 we identify the specific options that are to be         decided and the voting begins. The section of help titled "In a Nutshell" provides system output examples to clarify the above.   


         The objective of the System is to assist one or more individuals in resolving a dispute [debate, argument, discussion,] in a satisfying manner. This objective will be met when all participants meet the following criteria: They believe in the process and the ultimate objective of reaching a ompromise; they will abide by the rules of the system, thus devoting the necessary time and attention to the process. A warning is issued here.  Do not go any further if you expect some slick solution, or if you are not willing to invest a reasonable amount of time in understanding the process or even if you wish not to spoil a beautiful day by thinking.


         Any issue in the system evolves through three phases: Phase one is intrinsically the definition of the issue which is presented as a good outline containing the essential elements. All participants at this point can debate, suggest modifications to the owner/controller or drop out of this issue. Note that there is nothing confrontational in this phase that would make someone angry enough to abandon this debate.


         Phase two will be initiated when all players in a given issue have agreed on the anatomy. In phase two we begin to inject quantitative opinions regarding the importance of each leg of the anatomy. There may be more dissension in these judgments depending on one’s views, but still not enough to make one abandon ship.  For example, nothing that has been done so far has required us to define the main issue that is to be settled.  To make that point we recall the output of the system prior to the actual vote.




IRAQ                      AA 


























IRAN                     ABA
























CHINA                  ABC












TAXATION             ABD












AFRICA                ABE












ISRAEL                ABF
























CUBA                   ABH










Domestic POLICY    AC


Social Security       ACA












Drugs and Medicare/Medicaid ACB












Affirmative Action   ACC










Abortion                   AD


Repeal RoevWade  ADA  












Tighten up              ADB










Stem Cell Research AE


Abolish                  AEA












Intensify                 AEB










Illegal Immigration   AF


Grant amnesty then enforce                  AFA












Complete Abolition  AFB









         Note that the Alternatives shown could be candidates for an election or even some other issue unrelated to people.  In phases one and two we have merely diagrammed the problem and discussed the importance of each of the factors. The absence of names that go with the alternatives would probably contribute to calmer judgments  


         We only move to phase three, the final one, when we have reached a consensus regarding the importance factors.  Here, we define the options that are to be voted on and proceed with the voting, going thru as many iterations of the vote as are necessary to insure a stable state.


         The Process


         The details of the process are described below, and once it is described, the nuances of the debate among many, or perhaps only by one's self, will be addressed. Discussion of the process will be aimed at an audience of average intelligence and will avoid straying into the academic world. Any debate can be as complicated or simplistic as we wish.  For example, we consider the question of which party's presidential candidate is to triumph (based on the 2008 Election Period)with the election more than a year away. If the debaters agree that the issue is resolved purely by a popularity poll, then a discussion of the issue might be only regarding which poll to use or what is the margin of error in that poll, but the resolution is obtained readily.


         Now consider a more reasonable presentation of the question.  Who are the candidates for each party and what is the prognosis for each potential match-up; what are the various scenarios for the state of events at the time the election is to be held; and what is the mood of the country regarding foreign policy, Iraqi war, abortion, the economy and internal security, to name a few?  It is fairly obvious that in the later presentation it is not so easy to reach an overall conclusion, since each of the factors can be viewed as a debate by itself. Whatever the complexity of the argument might be, we need to define its structure. A series of questions will lead to a hierarchical display of the anatomy of the question at hand. An example of this is shown by BIGPICTURE.


         The display merely provides us with a pictorial form of our issue. The numbers at the lower left corner of each box indicate the relative importance of the item described within. As one would expect at the outset of an analysis, the importance is allocated an equal weight until further study has occurred.  The codes at the lower right of each box are given for the purpose of reference to the verbiage and location within the schema.


         With an initial view of where we're headed, the steps of the process become more apparent. Of primary importance is the significance of each branch of the tree.  We will be given a chance to allocate a measure of importance to each of the branches. When this has been accomplished, a normalization of the weights leads to a meaningful display of the relative importance of each branch. Now you, the player, can exercise your option to increase the importance, reduce the importance of a particular branch, or possibly eliminate it from the overall schema of the argument.