There is a tactic in formal debate where you make several independent arguments to support a claim. Any one of the arguments is sufficient to prove your case. The arguments are redundant. Your wins even if all but one of your arguments for it is struck down.
Rationality is the opposite of debate. A rationalist should make only the strongest argument.
Suppose I believe "There is no monkey in my closet." There are two arguments I could put forth to support my claim.
- I live in the Pacific Northwest. Monkeys don't live in the Pacific Northwest.
- I looked in my closet and observed that there was no monkey in it.
If I was in a formal debate then I would put forth both claims. But I am a rationalist. My primary objective isn't to persuade other people. It is to identify my own reasons for believing things. I want to pinpoint the facts which, if inverted, would change my mind.
Which of my two contentions is stronger? Which bit of evidence, if inverted, would cause me to change my mind?
- If I discovered that monkeys actually do live in the Pacific Northwest then I would continue to believe there is no monkey in my closet.
- If I looked in my closet and saw a monkey then I would believe there is a monkey in my closet, ecology be damned.
A rationalist's arguments should be stripped down to the bare essentials. The whole lattice should collapse with the removal of a single argument. If you can't cut an argument down to its cruxes then you haven't identified your cruxes. If you haven't identified your cruxes then you don't know why you believe what you believe.
What about something like "anthropogenic global warming is real"? Doesn't a lot of evidence go into a conclusion like that?
Since I'm not a climate scientist, I yield to the scientific consensus on climate science. My crux is: "The scientific consensus believes anthropogenic global warming is real." If I discovered the scientific consensus disbelieves "anthropogenic global warming is real" then I would change my mind.
I believe there is scientific consensus which believes in anthropogenic global warming because various trustworthy sources assure me there is one. No single trustworthy source is a crux. If <trustworthy news source > reported there was no scientific consensus then my confidence that there is a scientific consensus would be weakened, but it would not instantly break.
Does this violate "present only your strongest argument"? No. While you should limit arguments to your cruxes, it is acceptable to aggregate lots of evidence into a single statistic. Changing a single statistical datapoint need not invalidate your argument. It is sufficient for a single datapoint to merely weaken the statistic.
Arguments should be cruxy. Data is allowed to be redundant. Put all of your data behind your single cruxiest argument.