Elementary school. photo (cc): Phil Roeder flickr 6085668928Nearly one thousand adult Americans engaged in a national scientific experiment to see what the public would think about education and health care—if only people became more informed about the issues and talked about them together. For five weeks, participants engaged in weekly small group dialogues with trained moderators, discussed balanced briefing materials and posed questions to experts from different points of view. Their views changed significantly about policy options, about public officials and about each other.

The experiment, part of PBS Deliberation Week organized by By the People, The project was conducted online with a nationally representative sample who discussed the issues using voice rather than text, (employing microphones for interaction), and software designed to facilitate group discussion.