Posted on Sun 29 April 2018

the game of competing hypotheses

I haven’t seen this documented before, so I will do so.

Let’s suppose that we are playing the Internet’s favorite interactive game, Discuss Something. I’m sure you’ve played it. One person makes a statement, another person decides that they should correct the statement, and the game is on. Assuming an appropriate medium - Usenet, an email list, a chat board, Facebook, LiveJournal, the comments section of a newspaper - other people might join in.

One style of argument is to present evidence, preferably citing sources, along with a chain of reasonable statements that move from the evidence to the desired conclusion.

Another style of argument is to present hypotheses that exactly counter the last evidence of the other side.

In a game of escalating hypotheses, where one side feels bound to respect evidence and the other gets to make up stories, the side that makes up stories also gets to make up the story where they win.

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