Thursday, July 24, 2008

Teaching controversies: Using Opposing Views as a simple support site

TechCrunch announces Opposing Views, a site on which certified experts debate established controversies such as peak oil and the supposed connection between thimerosal and autism. It aims to be a go-to site for getting up to speed quickly on a controversy, with links to further resources.

There are problems with the (lower case) opposing-views model, since it tends to bifurcate more complex discussions. But the site might be really useful in particular for rhetoric teachers using the so-called controversy model, as we do in our introductory rhetoric and writing courses at UT. I like that, compared to other sources such as Wikipedia, Opposing Views puts the controversy front and center. On the other hand, setting up two opposing sides tends to lend equal credence to both. OV doesn't debate whether the world is flat, but you can imagine how a "balanced" debate would give credence to the flat-earthers.

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