Argument mapping is a way of laying out complex arguments spatially, allowing us to leverage our advanced primate visual systems to help us with logical reasoning.
The basic idea is to make reasoning explicit. As those who have taken a logic class (or taught one) know, there are two ways to be wrong:
- To be inconsistent according to the rules of logic
- To be logically consistent, but based on false premises
Argument mapping helps with the first of those, the logic -- which is actually the easier of the two. Science and the sourcing blocks in the picture above are about determining the truth of premises, which is much more difficult.
People hope to eventually develop it into a way for computers to automate critical thinking. In the meantime, it is a tool for us to use. Tedious to generate, but fantastically helpful once laid out.
I have literally been waiting for someone to develop this for ten years, since I started trying to use the technique with students in biology classes. I'm almost giddy, thinking about the possibilities (though that could be the beer).
Watch the video!