I think Dev is right- but that's not a reason not to try it. It's a potential risk - but we'll see how it goes. I agree with Rhea and sierra. As Rhea said here:
I think Specs is just saying that she'd like to be able to designate some threads as dicussion zones where, if you participate, you are expected to back up what you're saying with facts, rather than random repeat arguments with no facts and little bearing on the topic.
It takes work to go out and find materials that actually back up your assertions, true, but it makes for a much more interesting dicussion. And I have no problem with an icon that designates such discussions. It's also a warning to people who never bother to back up their rants that this is a rant-free, fact-based discussion.
Nobody's asking for a change in moderation, just a chance to try designating some threads as bring-your-facts threads, not rant threads. And folks who try to change the dicussion into a rant by not providing facts or just randomly carrying on can be politely ignored for the duration of that thread.
I think it's about the attitude with which people enter a discussion. If people individually get into a sort of "intellectual debate" mentality for a certain thread, that can help a lot. I like the idea and I think it's worth a try.
I also agree with sierra in that, no, not all threads should necessarily be long-winded intellectual academically-researched discussions. Nor do all posts have to be. Posts can be intelligent and civil without being epically researched. Some topics, like this one for instance, can't really be researched at all - it's not a fact based discussion to begin with, but an opinion based one. The only research you can do for your own opinion is to think about it, and even then there's nothing inherently wrong with changing your mind later on given new information or thinking it through in a different way.
But for some discussions it's very much appropriate to approach the discussion in a more methodical way, one with facts, views which have been carefully thought through and are presented logically and calmly, and perhaps sources to back things up if necessary (although let's not go nuts, we're not writing an academic paper). So to summarise:
1. Not for every thread
2. Yes there are some potential problems that may need ironing out
3. I think we should at least give it a go and we can always drop it if it turns out to be an unmitigated disaster.