We're experimenting with and attempting to develop a new internet based
source of reliable crowd sourcing information at http://canonizer.com
The idea is to add open survey capabilities to a wiki system. "Topics"
of controversial issues can have multiple 'camps' where various people
that see things similarly can collaboratively develop, defend, and
concisely state their POV. It is basically a tool to enable large
groups of people to communicate concisely and quantitatively - rather
than alone and individually. There are millions of blogs, and long
lists of comments to the good ones out there, the question is, how do
you know, concisely and quantitatively, what they are all saying about
any important controversial issues? And which ones do the people agree
One of our first efforts, in a proof of concept way, has been to start
an open survey amongst experts on what are currently the best theories
of consciousness. The question being: "Is there any kind of scientific
consensus at all about what are the best theories of consciousness?"
Often times a scientific consensus is claimed, or some experts have a
general idea that there is a consensus, but how do you document such
rigorously, quantitatively, and in a trusted way for all to accept? An
example topic where experts are starting to concicely state and develop
the best theories is this one on Theories of Mind and Consciousness:
Once you have open survey capabilities like this, all that remains is
knowing who are the trusted experts. This can be easily accomplished
via a peer ranking process where all the experts rank each other in a
top 10 kind of way. An example of this can be found in the "Mind
Experts" topic here:
And the associated canonization algorithm which uses the peer ranking
data documented here:
The default canonization algorithm is one person one vote. This results
in a rigorous and quantitative measure of consensus amongst the general
population (or at least of all participators in the open survey). There
are various other algorithms that can be used to 'canonize' things as
the reader may desire. Instead of filtering things on the way in,
allows the browsers of the data to filter (or canonizer,
if you will) things any way they want simply by selecting the
canonization algorithm on the side bar. When the 'Mind Experts'
canoniztion algorithm is selected on the side bar you get a rigorous and
quantitative measure of scientific consensus.
The survey results are still far from comprehensive, but already there
is a growing number of experts like Steven Lehar, John Smithies,
Jonathan Edwards... are participating, basically declaring their beliefs
in a dynamic and real time way about what they think are the best
theories of consciousness. So far, the more experts that 'canonizer'
their beliefs in this open survey the more the 'Consciousness is
Representational and real' camp continues to extend it's lead in the
amount of scientific consensus it has:
There has already been several starting attempts to use this definitive
information as references in various wikipedia articles on philosophy of
mind. One example being the article on qualia. An initial proposal to
include some of this data was made in the talk page of this article here:
But this, and other similar entries on other pages were initially shut
down by Jw2035 and a wiki war seems to be in process on this issue with
possibly different points of view. A topic has been created at
to consolidate the various descussions on different
article talk pages, and to find out how much consensus there might be on
both sides of this issue here (If there is any other real competing POV
about the validity of such):
A second attempt is now being proposed for the qualia article here:
in which it is simply being used to definitively document John Smythies
(one of the somewhat arbitrary listed 'proponents of qualia') beliefs on
The ultimate goal would be as things become more developed, to have a
quantitative measure of how trusted any particular 'camp' is.
Obviously, anyone can create and support a camp, or a camp may not be
supported at all. All such should be taken 'with a grain of salt'. But
if there is a clear 'scientific consensus' supporting a camp, the degree
to which it can be trusted goes up significantly and quantitatively.
Perhaps in the future, various scientific publications might stipulate a
quantitative value, when using a particular specified canonization
algorithm, which a 'camp' must achieve before it can be used as a source
in anything published in their peer reviewed scientific publication?
All the people involved in this open source volunteer developed project
would love to know what all you wikipedians think about such efforts to
'measure' scientific consensus - and the using of such as trusted
sources of information in wikipedia and elsewhere. Sure, no one can
claim any of this is 'truth' (except for the fact of who currently
believes what is true) - but what better measure of truth might there be
than that for which there is a clear scientific consensus? And
includes a historical mechanism (see the 'as of' control
box on the side bar) so we can watch and rigorously document the various
theories or 'camps' as they come and go as ever more scientific data
What do you all think?
lennart guldbrandsson wrote:
In other words, the world is moving to the internet and if Wikipedia wants to stay ahead
it will need to adapt.