Mission, History, and Overview
“To promote civility, critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship by presenting the pro and con arguments to debatable issues in a straightforward, nonpartisan, freely accessible way.”
Through our website, ProCon.org, we serve as a non-biased information source for our users. We present sourced pros and cons of debatable issues, as well as a host of reference information relevant to those issues, thoroughly researched and compiled by our research staff and editors. We use the pro and con format because it achieves four objectives:
- First, by exposing readers to both sides of an issue in a side-by-side format, we make it easier for them to see the difference in the facts and arguments offered by each side.
- Second, our pro and con format creates what we call “beneficial confusion,” causing readers to struggle with well-presented opposing positions, and, therefore, to engage in evaluative thinking to formulate their own views. Readers who have a pre-existing view of an issue may feel more confident in their view, or they may change their view. In either case, many will recognize that the process of acquiring and critically evaluating information has a beneficial and satisfying effect on their decision-making.
- Third, the format makes readers more confident and comfortable in discussing and debating their views with others, knowing what the “other side” may think.
- Fourth, challenging readers to examine both sides of an issue tends to reduce the likelihood that they will resort to the “demonization” of those who hold opposing views.
On May 29, 2020, the Britannica® Group announced its acquisition of ProCon.org, the country’s leading source for information and research on all sides of the debatable issues of the day. Britannica is one of the most prominent educational publishers in the world, producer of not only the famed Encyclopaedia Britannica, the oldest continuously published (since 1768) and revised work in the English language, but also a large suite of resources for students, schools, and teachers in multiple languages. The Britannica Group is headquartered in Chicago.
Steven C. Markoff, Chairman and CEO of A-Mark Financial Corporation in Santa Monica, California, founded ProCon.org in 2004 with the following mission: to promote critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship by presenting the pro and con arguments to debatable issues in a straightforward, nonpartisan, freely accessible way. It was begun as a nonprofit charity in California and was initially funded primarily by its founder. For most of its tenure as a nonprofit organization (2004-20), ProCon.org received funding from outside sources including private companies, foundations, and individual donors, many of whom are acknowledged on the Donors & Sponsors page.
The award-winning ProCon.org website serves more than 20 million people each year, including students and teachers in more than 11,000 schools in all 50 states and 90 countries. Additionally, 37 U.S. state governments, 17 U.S. state departments of education, 31 foreign governments, 25 U.S. federal agencies, and thousands of media articles have cited ProCon.org.
For each of its U.S. presidential election sites since 2008, ProCon.org has attracted millions of readers with its coverage of the candidates and their positions on key issues. In 2012, the New York Times (“Great Free Websites for Teaching Election 2012,” September 5, 2012) hailed the ProCon.org election site as “the most comprehensive teaching tool for researching the candidate’s stance on issues.” The Times recommended ProCon.org again in 2020 as among the essential election sites for students wanting to engage with that year’s presidential campaign (Natalie Proulx and Katherine Schulten, “Election 2020: 11 Ways to Engage Students from Now until November,” nytimes.com, May 21, 2020).