Apr 29, 2018
An adversarial collaboration is an effort by two people with opposing opinions on a topic to collaborate on a summary of the evidence. Just as we hope that a trial with both prosecutor and defense will give the jury a balanced view of the evidence for and against a suspect, so we hope an adversarial collaboration will give readers a balanced view of evidence for and against some thesis. It’s typically done for scientific papers, but I’m excited about the possibility of people applying the concept to to less formal writeups as well.
For example, a pro-gun activist might collaborate with an anti-gun activist to write a joint article on the evidence for whether gun control saves lives. We trust each person to make sure the best evidence for their respective side is included. We also trust that they’ll fact-check each other and make sure there aren’t any errors or falsehoods in the final document. There might be a lot of debating, but it will happen on high-bandwidth informal channels behind the scenes and nobody will feel like they have tailor their debating to sounding good for an audience.
I don’t know to what degree true adversarial collaborations are really possible. It might be that people who disagree on high-level issues might not be able to cooperate on a survey of the field at all. But I’d like to find out.
So I’m offering a prize, plus a chance to get the results published on SSC, to any teams (probably of two people each) who want to do adversarial collaborations. If you want to participate, comment on this post with what subject you’d like to work on and what your opinion is on the subject. Or look through existing comments, find someone who has the opposite opinion to you on a subject you care about, and reply to them saying you want to be their foil. After that you can exchange emails and start working.