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Introducing "Change My Mind": HuffPost's New Debates Tool

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"It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it."
Joseph Joubert

At HuffPost, we're all about finding ways to move the national discourse beyond the outdated dichotomy of left and right. Today, we are launching a new platform for debate to further that mission. We are calling it "Change my Mind."

We face real challenges today, ranging from the personal (Should I spank my children? Should I allow my mother-in-law to wear white at my wedding?) to the political (Should Congress allow the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline?).

A Google search of any contentious question will yield millions of results, but in that sea of information it can be difficult to separate what's trustworthy from what's not. And even when we have navigated past the conspiracy theories, truthiness, and smoke and mirrors, it can be all too easy to confine ourselves to echo chambers where we only hear the people we already agree with.

We want to change that. Change My Mind is a simple tool by design. We will invite thought leaders from around the world to stake out positions on key issues of the day.

Most debate tools reward the participants who have the most popular opinion. At HuffPost, we believe that dissenting voices have a place in the discussion as well. So with Change My Mind, we take a more classical approach: the winners of our debates aren't the bloggers who carry the most votes, but the bloggers who swing the most users to their side.

It works like this. We'll ask you to tell us your position before you read the arguments. Do you agree? Disagree? Are you on the fence? After voting, the arguments are revealed (these initial posts will be in text form, but expect other formats soon), and we'll ask you to vote again after reading. The winner is declared based on who has swayed the most readers -- so if you want your side to win, your best bet is sending the arguments to people who haven't formed an opinion yet!

The French philosopher Joseph Joubert once said, "The aim of argument should not be victory, but progress." Our hope is that with Change My Mind, bloggers on HuffPost will be able to share some perspective you may not have heard before. And we'll be able to see that, even on the most important and divisive issues, even those we passionately disagree with do occasionally have sound points. We believe that this kind of civil discussion is an essential part of moving the country forward.

So check out the initial debates, and keep an eye out for Change My Mind to be an ongoing feature on The Huffington Post, and a section where you can go to find fresh perspectives on both sides of the major issues throughout the year.