Atomic Notes about Myths

I am trying to get my head around debunking and discussing myths using Obsidian and some atomic notes.

Myths about protein

  • Your kidneys cannot handle too much protein (that is the myth statement), which I am thinking about making an atomic note. However, the truth is that the kidneys in people with normal healt is, that protein intake does not harm the kidneys, so I need a note explaining that.

How would you suggest structuring myths and the debunking on myths with atomic notes in Obsidian?

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My practice is to write claims as individual notes and then tag them as claims. Even if you pull a claim out of an argument, it’s helpful to separate it so you can link other support or counter-claims. I have tags for all the elements of information. For example, a claim is tagged as #🧩EOI/claim in my vault. I also use the plugins Supercharged Links and Style Settings so these are easy to see searches.

You could tag it as a claim and then sub-tag it as agree, disagree, or withholding judgment. These are personal for me, but you could have the same thing for your field. That is, if the majority of physicians reject or accept a popular claim or hypothesis, you might want a way to visually mark the claim. #eval/👍🏻agree or #eval/👎🏻disagree as well as #eval/❔unsure

Be sure to apply charity and state claims as carefully as possible so they can be supported or rejected for specific reasons. I am not a physiology major, but your example could be presented something as follows:

#🧩EOI/claim In a healthy human adult (aged 18-65), the kidneys cannot tolerate (x-quantity) of protein (in a single feeding? within a specific timeframe?).

The above claim can now be use to find support or to offer reasons to reject it. It could be written as several different claims. Perhaps age makes a difference so it could be true for one age group and not another. It might be true for some obscene quantity of protein but not in most cases. It might be different for males and females so they could be different claims. You get the idea.

When you find support, make a note. Support could be one note with all the support you find or separate atomic notes. Do the same with counterclaims.

Keeping separate atomic notes is helpful if you work in the genre and anticipate reusing the notes to support or challenge other claims. If it’s not your field and you just want to capture for basic knowledge and review, then one note containing similar claims, support, etc., might be easier to navigate.

In the YAML properties, you can then provide links holding arguments and counterarguments together. For example, the following are ways to expand your ontology for debunking a claim:

“challenge,” “contradict,” “debunk,” “deny,” “diminish,” “disprove,” “invalidates,” “negates,” “overturns,” “question,” “refute,” “repudiate,” “undermine,” and so on are possible.

Create a similar list for support.

I put these in Excalibrain ontologies so I can create maps. When the claim is selected, it will be the center of the Excalibrain map and the support will be on the left and refutations on the right. Sub-claims and “background” will be a “child” which show up below and more general claims above as “parents.” The highest level claim might be called the “main point” or “principle claim.”

Of course, any claim lacking support is opinion and should be tagged as #🧩EOI/opinion until support can be obtained. Once there are reasons to support the opinion (even if you disagree), change it to #🧩EOI/claim and link to the support.

Don’t forget to make use of your Zotero plugins to match up research.

Overall, I recommend mapping an argument you have lots of data to support and rebut and then develop your own ontology and tags (if you like tags). Create a note that reminds you how to use your ontology for consistency, and then get to work. If you’re like me, this will keep changing and improving for a long time.

Hope this is helpful. I hope even more someone has better ideas.

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It sounds like what you’re trying to collect are instances in which your argument contradicts someone else’s argument, and to include the evidence in that.

I am a new and minimalist Obsidian user, and always try to use the fewest steps possible.

My method, using your Protein/kidney example, would be:

  • Make a note titled “Kidneys have robust protein-processing power” (or whatever your argument is).
  • Write in the body, “If a person is healthy, their kidneys are unlikely to be harmed by dietary protein (include your evidence). However, some people believe the [[myth]] that healthy kidneys can be harmed if one eats too much protein (and include the evidence of that myth).”
  • Then you’ll have a note called “Myths” in which the backlinks, if you expand them, provide detailed reading on both the myth and the refuting info.

Depending on your purpose you might prefer to reverse those. Personally I don’t want myths or things I’ve disproven to circulate in the “higher levels” of my PKM.

I collect “Apparent Contradictions” which I’ve refuted, but since it’s a sort of sideshow to my overall PKM, I don’t want it to take a lot of my time. My PKM is, after all, about my ideas not the ideas of others. So if my atomic thought (which is the “main character” in my PKM) happens to debunk someone else’s claim that two things are contradictory, I’ll let that claim of contradiction be a sideshow in my atomic thought: So and so said, [[citation]] these two things are an [[apparent contradiction]]. I argue they are not contradictory, because blah blah, and here is evidence and a [[citation]].