Ground Rules

PURPOSE: To provide an online forum for the dissemination and discussion of ideas and information about the theory of evolution (in all its dimensions), including its implications for philosophy, religion, and world views.

MEMBERSHIP: Although this forum is intended primarily for the faculty and students in the Cornell non-majors evolution course (BioEE 2070/Hist 2870/S&TS 2870), it is also open to anyone with a general interest in the topic and its implications.

FORMAT: Although this forum is open to everyone, posting and commentary at this website is entirely moderated. That is, all posts and comments will first be reviewed by the moderator, who will (after due consideration, and working within the constraints of time and work load) allow them to appear in the appropriate sections of the website.

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT: The founder of this course and the moderator of this website is a great admirer of the traditional values of the academy: intellectual freedom, personal responsibility, and respect for others. Therefore, this website has several rules, which will be strictly enforced:

* Ad hominem attacks, blasphemy, profanity, rudeness, and vulgarity will not be tolerated (although heresy will always be encouraged). However, vigorous arguments against a poster or commentator’s position are expected…indeed, they are required.

* Long-running debates that are of interest only to a small number of individuals should be taken elsewhere, preferably via private email (i.e. if the moderator gets tired of reading posts concerning the population density [N] of terpsichorean demigods inhabiting ferrous microalpine environments, the posters will be encouraged to “settle it outside”).

* Pseudonyms are permitted but real names are greatly preferred. However, if the moderator suspects that someone is posting under multiple aliases or pretending to be someone else (i.e. “sock-puppeting”), they will be permanently banned.

* Mutual respect and sensitivity towards those with opposing views is essential. In particular, posts containing what the moderator feels is “creation-bashing” by evolutionists or “evolution-bashing” by creationists, will not be tolerated.

FURTHERMORE, to encourage reasoned argument and discussion, both statements of fact and statements of opinion are welcomed, in both posts and comments, with the following provisos:

* Statements of opinion should be clearly indicated as such, preferably with “IMO” in parenthesis.

* Both statements of fact and statements of opinion may be challenged by anyone, so long as the challenge takes place within a reasonable length of time (and remember, time online passes much more swiftly than time in the real world; three days is a virtual eternity).

* If a statement of fact is challenged, the person challenged should make a good faith effort to either provide supporting evidence or make a logical argument as to why such supporting evidence is unnecessary.

* NO statement may be challenged or attacked by ad hominem arguments or by changing the topic of the thread (i.e. “hijacking”). In particular, anyone directly or indirectly referring to another commentator as either a “liar” or “having lied” (including semantic equivalents, such as “dissembling” or “mendacity”) may result in the perpetrator of such an accusation being banned from further participation.

* Rather than accusing a poster or commentator of distorting or misrepresenting the facts when they have made a particular assertion, one should post a rebuttal that documents that there is evidence that the assertion is false and/or misleading (and preferably provide a bibliographic reference or weblink).

* Speculation about motives, either directly or indirectly, by anyone commenting on any topic is never allowed and will be immediately deleted, as this clearly constitutes “hijacking” the thread by changing the topic (unless the thread began as a discussion of motives). In other words, if you want to talk about motives, start another thread to that effect (and if people can’t remain civil in that thread, the moderator reserves the right to delete it).

* Decisions about moderation are entirely and exclusively the prerogative of the moderator. If you don’t want to abide by these rules, please DON’T waste everyone’s time (including your own) by attempting to post or comment here.

* Any infraction of these rules will result in limitation or rescinding of your commenting and/or posting privileges.

NOTA BENE: A brief untoward statement in a long and otherwise reasonable comment fully justifies its deletion and may result in the deletion of all your future comments, reasonable or not (so keep backup copies if you want to try again with a more “civil” version).

* If a post or comment has been deleted by the moderator, please don’t repeatedly try to repost it. It won’t ever be allowed unchanged, it wastes bandwidth and the moderator’s time, and simply reinforces the decision on the part of the moderator to delete the post (and maybe ban you).

* Appeals of moderation or complaints about the behavior of your fellow posters of commentators are NOT appropriate on any thread. Even in cases where they are not ad hominem attacks, such complaints still qualify as “hijacking the discussion”. Any such appeal or complaint should instead be emailed to