Thinkerly: Grammarly for writing good thoughts

by ryan_b 1y11th Oct 20181 min read5 comments


There is no product here, I am just putting down some ideas about what how such a thing might work.

You may have noticed all the annoying Grammarly adds bouncing around, which is a browser-based spelling/grammar/syntax checker. I wondered about how easily we could detect indications of known-bad-thinking with the same kind of analysis. This website is all through written communication, and the community is a solid proponent of note-taking; what if there were a tool that could catch obvious signs of bad or sloppy thinking as you wrote the thought down?

It does seem like it would be difficult to point to any kind of general grammar pattern that indicates a bad argument. However, it would be pretty straightforward to collect a large pile of bad argument examples, and then try pattern matching against those. It should also be simple enough to flag claims which should require evidence or a citation - something like if it detects numbers it searches the rest of the text for something resembling a source or citation.

Speaking of, is there some kind of bibliography or citation software that we could mimic or hijack for this purpose?

While I mostly envision this as a tool to help maintain clear thinking by catching errors in my notes, the thought of applying it to a blog post or editorial from the browser tickles me immensely. Click the button and the page turns red, go ahead and browse elsewhere.