Debate versus Attacks: A discussion on civility.

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Debate versus Attacks: A discussion on civility.

I have been watching, as well as have been drawn into, conversation on some Bigfoot related pages on Facebook, as have many of you. We see interesting video, audio, pictures, and opinion, and some that are not so interesting, or even quite ridiculous. It is healthy to discuss these things in order to further hone our understanding of the Bigfoot phenomenon. This allows experienced and knowledgeable researchers to further evaluate new evidence, and it also is a way for new enthusiasts to learn about the phenomenon and what is known so they can become constructive members of the conversation and perhaps even seek out their own field experience with Bigfoot. The discussions are interesting, but all we have is opinion, no facts, no smoking-gun, just evidence, hearsay, and opinion that is tempered by various scientific disciplines. This conclusion is logical and honest. The problem that I see does not regard whether evidence is good or not, as evidence is always either good, or not good, or at best – questionable. So what else is there?

When we learn to debate we learn the set of parliamentary procedures that govern the debate so that there is a logical discourse to the debate. Without this logical discourse little will be accomplished as nothing ever is accomplished in a shouting match. In some of these posting strings of dialogue on other pages this seems to be a problem. In debate, dialogue remains civil, and the discussion is kept on topic, yet in some of the discourse on these other sites the topic becomes focused on impugning people or the administrators of those other pages instead of remaining on the discussion of the presented evidence.

What I am witnessing in some of these conversations on these other pages, and this seems to be growing, is a shift in the topic away from discussing the merit of the evidence and why or why not it is acceptable as evidence, to personal attacks and name calling by some members towards other members of this page. This diminishes the interaction and pollutes the dialogue in terms of evidence analysis. Even in a debate situation, such incivilities are not tolerated and disruptors, whether they are on the debate team or in the audience, would be removed as it diminishes the effectiveness of the debate and pollutes the discussion regarding the actual topic.

I have watched certain post strings, on these other pages, work into the 100 plus posting number, but in all of those posts it can be argued that only a quarter, if that, of the actual posts actually are constructive and pertain to the actual evidence put forth. This is not a serious discussion or debate, but a free-for-all and nothing is getting accomplished. Time is increasingly being spent in fighting back and forth impugning other posters and those posters having to defend themselves, or that page, rather than realistic discussion about the evidence.

The administrators of this page will assist in maintaining control, and protecting authentic posters and contributors from bully’s and abusers, so that the effectiveness of this site is not diminished, and people can feel safe to post their opinions without being attacked. People come here to check out evidence and learn; they are not interested in watching a yelling match instigated by a few immature members who are left unchecked to continue their disruptive behavior. Dysfunctional people burn out healthy people, which is why they are eventually ostracized and avoided socially. So this divisiveness that I see going on with these other Bigfoot related pages is not helping the Bigfoot cause but only adds to the credibility problem that this phenomenon has faced due to similar people such as the hoaxers that seek fame, fortune, and self-importance, or to destroy what credible evidence is out there by showing that there are evidence within this phenomenon that can be hoaxed. Again, this is a form of self-importance and remember that even though evidence can be hoaxed and fabricated does not mean that all evidence is hoaxed and fabricated.

Over the years I have been invited to many forums and sites such as this and I always eventually leave because I am only interested in reviewing evidence and determining trends and what we can learn from the growing base of evidence. I am not interested in self-aggrandizing individuals, people who cannot respect each other, name calling, and focus on attacking the poster instead of discussing the evidence. I am excited about this site because I can set the rules and work with trusting people to govern this page and keep it safe and respectful for anyone who wants to be here.  This page and the Bigfootology.com site is to be a clearing-house of evidence and discussion, but this purpose will be diminished by even an unpleasant few if they are allowed attack and abuse others, and taking the focus away from the phenomenon and placing it upon themselves.

To help the Bigfoot administrators, on this site and others, I dug around for some recommendations to post here to help them learn or adopt ways to protect the integrity of this page, to protect our members, and the people who are here to take this seriously. I found some recommendations from Paul Noll. Some of these are more pertinent than others for this type of forum, but some are adopted in order to maintain civility back on this page.

Avoid the use of Never.

Avoid the use of Always.

Refrain from saying, “you are wrong.”

You can say, “Your idea is mistaken.”

Don’t disagree with obvious truths.

Attack the idea not the person.

Use many rather than most.

Avoid exaggeration.

Use some rather than many.

The use of often allows for exceptions.

The use of generally allows for exceptions.

Quote sources and numbers.

If it is just an opinion, admit it.

Do not present opinion as facts.

Smile when disagreeing.

Stress the positive.

You do not need to win every battle to win the war.

Concede minor or trivial points.

Avoid bickering, quarreling, and wrangling.

Watch your tone of voice.

Don’t win a debate and lose a friend.

Keep your perspective – You’re just debating.

–       Paul Noll

So, I hope these thoughts will help with the damage control that needs to take place on some of those other pages, and why we have strict posting rules for this page, as I am seeing several of these conversations on these other sites result in yelling matches with personal attacks and that will not be tolerated here. The world has enough problems and we do not need to see, or be a part of that here. When I am researching Bigfoot, whether in the field or academically, I do it for the thrill and enjoyment of it. When I read some of these discussion threads that become more about a disrespectful and antagonist poster rather than the actual subject matter, it removes the fun, eliminates the joy, and makes me want to do as I have done many times before which is to withdraw from forums and only have discussions with the core of the traditional researchers that I am a part of.

Now all members of the Bigfootology community understand why we have rules to maintain the integrity and of this page. We can control and are willing to control what is posted so that civility and respect is maintained – to protect our members. I hope that everyone will remain dignified and respectful, even in their disagreement, so that we do not have to remove posts or ban subscribers from this page.

I hope you enjoy this page, our Bigfootology.com site, and the work we are doing to bring Bigfootology and the phenomenon into the mainstream as a viable scientific discipline for a viable species.

– Rhettman A. Mullis, Jr., MS, MHP

Adapted from an original posted from November 2010.

Category : Bigfootology Field Report

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