Univer­sity re­searchers help­ing peo­ple to bet­ter their ar­gu­ing

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - NEWS -

Re­searchers at Dundee Univer­sity are work­ing with the BBC to help peo­ple im­prove their ar­gu­ing skills.

Pro­fes­sor Chris Reed and his col­leagues from the Cen­tre for Ar­gu­ment Tech­nol­ogy (Argtech) have signed an agree­ment to cre­ate com­puter soft­ware to be pi­loted with BBC pro­gram­ming.

Prof Reed has pre­vi­ously worked with the broad­caster on the Ra­dio 4 live dis­cus­sion pro­gramme The Moral Maze.

The Arg-tech team worked with en­gi­neers around the world to an­a­lyse the de­bate on abor­tion on a re­cent episode of the show, and used that data to work out how ar­gu­ments were made.

A sim­i­lar ex­er­cise will be car­ried out dur­ing BBC Two’s Abor­tion On Trial show on Mon­day.

The same un­der­ly­ing data is used to sup­port a Dun­deede­vel­oped app called Test Your Ar­gu­ment, which has now gone live on the BBC Taster site, which en­ables users to ac­cess con­tent from the de­bate and learn how to build bet­ter ar­gu­ments.

An­other piece of tech­nol­ogy be­ing de­vel­oped is an app that al­lows peo­ple to take on the role of The Moral Maze chair­man Michael Buerk to recre­ate their own de­bates us­ing con­tent from the BBC iplayer.

Prof Reed said: “We’re in­ter­ested in mod­els of ar­gu­ment, de­bate and dis­agree­ment and The Moral Maze is a fan­tas­tic part­ner for us in that re­gard as it is the gold-stan­dard of de­bate.

“In the era of fake news and of de­bates in­creas­ingly hap­pen­ing in echo cham­bers of like-minded groups, it is vi­tal that peo­ple have the skills to back up rea­son and facts in ar­gu­ments.”

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