“He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.“
John Stuart Mill, ‘On Liberty’, 1859 (full quote below)
Democracy is premised on the idea that the fractious, argumentative mass called The People makes better decisions collectively.
Parlia is founded on that premise.
To govern ourselves - to understand our challenges and take the right decisions in response - we need to be properly informed.
We are re-quoting the most famous line about journalism, but over to Thomas Jefferson: “were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
The internet is a utopia of information. Jefferson could never have conceived that so much information would be freely available.
But it does not come without problems. We are suffering, peculiarly, from a surfeit of information.
This is what Parlia is trying to tackle.
Parlia is an encyclopaedia of opinions.
We think we can help cut through the noise of competing statistics and world views, of fake news and spin, of righteous indignation and tribalism.
We think there is, in fact, a very limited number of arguments on any side of any question.
And we think we might be able to guide you through them.
Why do people think what, and how?
We want to be the internet’s guide to the world of ideas. We want to be its interpreter.
The democratic principle rests on us coming back together to argue out solutions.
We need to hear all sides, to understand that opposing views are as sincere and as deeply held as our own. The democratic pledge is to believe society as a whole will make the best decisions for us. That we work at our best when we build meaning collaboratively.
Arguing is precisely what will make us discover our differences and our difficulties, and provide the best solutions to them.
Parlia wants to help us do so smartly (and kindly).
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
“He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion… Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them…he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.”