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An encyclopedia focusing on why not what
  [vote for,

Have a wiki that allows people to say why things are (instead of what they are).

Wikipedia and every other encyclopedia focuses on what it is. The reason for this is obvious: encyclopedias are supposed to be repositories of knowledge. Given a commonly accepted definition of knowledge being "justified true belief," describing why something is is often subject to speculation and mere ideas.

Having a wiki that focuses on the why is within the realm of the possible. There would often often be competing mutually exclusive ideas about the why, so the wiki would have to allow for that.

I imagine for each subject that the page would be mostly text-based information, like Wikipedia is today. But there would also be an interactive map showing in a branch-like format all the causes and reasons why. Every map would take the form of a chain of reasons. Substantiation of propositions would play a big role, and type of substantiation of the reason would be indicated. Each node in the branch would be a summary of a reason but would be clickable and would expand to show the support for the reason (an essay, a formula, a poll, or a claim of any of these, etc)

Propositions can be marked: subjective, objective, substantiated by: {reason, repeatable evidence, individual experience, math, etc}, strong or weak, valid or invalid, type of statement: {well known argument, doctrine, theory, hypothesis, law of nature, law of man, equation}

I don't know if aesthetic opinions should be allowed (restaurant-review types of propositions).

bammin, Jul 07 2009

Like this? http://www.geocitie...iageChart-large.png
Argument flowchart [nineteenthly, Jul 07 2009]

Similar proposal at meta.wikipedia.org http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Whykipedia
[jutta, Jul 08 2009]


       Why did the chicken cross the road?   

       Doesn't that just end up being a regular wikipedia of philosophy, only slightly less well organised?   

       I mean, once you know what the high level ideologies/philosophies are, does it matter (in terms of why anyway) which theory you apply? Wont you just keep getting the same old set of philosophies applied in rote form?
zen_tom, Jul 07 2009

       haha, that flowchart was awesomely funny. Not quite. that is arguments for and against something. This would not follow argument->counterargument mode. mutually exclusive reasons would form their own tree. perhaps an argumentation layer could be turned on, but some flame-control mechanism would have to exist.
bammin, Jul 07 2009

       zen_tom, sure philosophies may be applied rotely, but that doesn't make it any less interesting. Wanting to understand why something is is one of the great things about being human. Besides, there are plenty of subjects for which rote application would hardly be possible. Consider the following subject: The US stock market drop of the autumn of '08.   

       It brings up an interesting point that I had also thought over. Ostensibly every subject's tree of reasons could look like an inverted pyramid. Most subjects would share a few common ancestors. The root of every tree, in theory, would be self-justifying, self-evident, or assumed yet unsubstantiated. Example such reasons are "the universe began to exist", "0 is real", "it is impossible to have a square circle", etc.   

       These common ancestors don't have to be rewritten. Thus any given subject might be justified with pre-existing reasons.One challenge to all of this is ensuring people find pre-existing resaons rather than have multiple people writing multiple instances of the same reason.
bammin, Jul 07 2009

       Love it. (+)
I've always found that if you can figure out why something works the way it does, the how is easy.

       One problem I see with this though will be the end result of each and every search ever undertaken.
Sure you'll learn many new things you were curious about so I'm all for it but in the end you'll always be disappointed by that final answer.
I see it going something like this.

       "Why am I getting man-boobs?" : [Man-boobs are caused by the lessening of elasticity of a human’s skin over time and the constant pull of the Earth's gravity.]
"Well then, why is gravity?" : [Insufficient data, choose another query.]

       "Why do magnets pull one way and push the other?" : [The alignment of charged particles in a magnet cause a field which repels or attracts another field which is aligned or reversed from the first magnet.
"Oh...well why is there a magnetic field then?" : [Insufficient data, choose another query.]

       "...but why is light?" : [Insufficient data, ch...]   

       Fantastic, with large guaranteed user base ... ("Dad, why ..." "I dunno, go look it up" )   

       By back projecting you have just discovered the set of information needed to provide a human-like common sense AI with its starting platform   

       You have also identified where the exciting science lies ...
kindachewy, Jul 07 2009

       [Ian Tindale]/I see nothing/ => I see inferences of nothing. Nothing can't be seen.
wjt, Jul 07 2009

       Surely it can, else why the phrase, "Nothing to see here, move along?"
goldbb, Jul 07 2009

       Hey, that "argument flowchart" is a recent piece of Patrick Farley work!   

       I wondered what he was up to these days.
normzone, Jul 07 2009

       Each entry would require several levels of explanation, e.g. the question:   

       "Why am I getting man boobs?"   

       might be answered in order by:   

       Level 1 answer; "Because you're old and unfit"   

       Level 2 answer; "Because an age related reduction in skin modulus combined with excess subcutaneous fatty deposits results in localised sagging"   

       And so on until things start to get tricky, then you might have a level 7 answer:   

       "Because there is no evolutionary advantage in retaining an appearance attractive to the oposite sex once you have passed the age of effecient reproduction"   


       "Because God is punishing you for the sins of your fathers"   

       The reader can read through the answers until he or she is satisfied, bored or infuriated.
Twizz, Jul 08 2009

       [+] So why don't you simply do this? Creating a wiki is one of the most simplest things, and wikipedia supports hosting of various wiki efforts. So why not? (Nothing to do with Whynot.com which is a sister to HB...)
pashute, Jul 08 2009

       I like this. It should be baked.   

       Have a bun.
webfishrune, Jul 08 2009

       You do realize this will simply end up eventually spitting out 42, don't you?
RayfordSteele, Jul 08 2009

       [+] However, I would strongly suggest that the whykipedia be divided into three top-level sections, namely science, history, and philosophy.   

       Answers to questions like, "Why do magnets pull one way and push the other?" would go under science, "Why are magnets called magnets?" would go under history, and "Why did god invent magnetism?" under philosopy.
goldbb, Jul 08 2009

       Why am I drawn to all of you, like a magnet?
blissmiss, Jul 08 2009

       Well, of course 42 will be the root reason ;)   

       Yeah, I briefly looked over Wikimedia; it seems doable without a lot of modifications. I have time. If anybody is hankering to contact me about implementation ideas I'm open to it.
bammin, Jul 09 2009

       I have no time, but I could stand on the sidelines and shout words of encouragement.   

       Seriously, if you could implement this without a huge budget and team, then you should. It just might be awesome.
wagster, Jul 09 2009

       Sister website: Whynotkipedia
theleopard, Jul 09 2009

       There were the Useful Presents: engulfing mufflers of the old coach days, and mittens made for giant sloths; zebra scarfs of a substance like silky gum that could be tug-o'-warred down to the galoshes; blinding tam-o'-shanters like patchwork tea cozies and bunny-suited busbies and balaclavas for victims of head-shrinking tribes; from aunts who always wore wool next to the skin there were mustached and rasping vests that made you wonder why the aunts had any skin left at all; and once I had a little crocheted nose bag from an aunt now, alas, no longer whinnying with us. And pictureless books in which small boys, though warned with quotations not to, would skate on Farmer Giles' ponds and did and drowned; and books that told me everything about the wasp, except why.   

       - Dylan Thomas
nomocrow, Jul 09 2009

       [goldbb]Good example of language versus reality.   

       [IanTindale] /Why did magnetism invent god?/ Probably strong armed into it by overly stressed gravity. ?invent?
wjt, Jul 09 2009

       Man-boobs are caused by a hormonal imbalance.
RayfordSteele, Mar 11 2010

       [+] if I could again... Thanks [bammin]!
pashute, Sep 07 2022


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