[Coral-List] The Socrates Cafe RE: "sarcasm, endless disagreements, personal attacks..."

Jim Hendee Jim.Hendee at noaa.gov
Wed Dec 1 10:23:42 EST 2010

That's beautiful.  I think one of the reasons people sometimes become
less than polite in debate is because they aren't sitting right next to
each other, rather gillions of electrons away.  Think about all the
information that is passed between two parties in simple body language
before a single word is spoken.  Simple nuances, like a shrug or a tiny
smile, which might say, "Now don't take this personally, but..." before
a single challenging word is spoken, take the edge off.  It's like some
of those creditor bums who call me and are nasty over the phone, trying
(uselessly, I might add) to get me to pay my bill.  They'd never say
stuff like that to my face.  Similarly, at a reach of a thousand miles
and the whole impersonal Internet away, some people feel safe to "get in
your face" in a way they would never do at your Socrates Cafe.  I've
certainly been guilty of that, I admit.

So what's this got to do with coral reefs?  I don't know, I forgot, but
this seems to be a good place to start over and get back to the main
theme...eh, folks?

On 12/1/10 10:12 AM, Sarah Frias-Torres wrote:
> Dear Jim and Coral-List,
> I read this little book "the Socrates Cafe". The core message is the existence of a place, a cafe (beautiful art deco place), where people meet and exchange ideas based in the Socratic method: inquiry and debate with opposing viewpoints by asking and answering questions, which in turn stimulate critical thinking and new ideas.
> I wish all of us, coral-listers, could meet in a little cafe and exchange ideas in such a civil way. But limitations of time and space make such an enterprise impossible.
> Coral-list is not perfect, because humans are not perfect. And it does not satisfy the wishes of all those subscribed. 
> In spite of our flaws, please, let's make Coral-list our Socrates Cafe for all coral reef issues and challenges.
> Sarah Frias-Torres, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Scholar &Schmidt Research Vessel Institute Postdoctoral Fellowhttp://independent.academia.edu/SarahFriasTorresOcean Research & Conservation Association 1420 Seaway Drive, 2nd Floor Fort Pierce, Florida 34949 USA http://www.teamorca.org
>> Date: Wed, 1 Dec 2010 08:44:22 -0500
>> From: Jim.Hendee at noaa.gov
>> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>> Subject: [Coral-List] "sarcasm, endless disagreements, personal attacks..."
>> I usually don't forward messages, rather encourage direct submission,
>> but this one is special.
>> -------- Original Message --------
>> Subject: 	Re: [Coral-List] More La Ninia
>> Date: 	Wed, 01 Dec 2010 08:13:09 -0500
>> From: 	
>> To: 	Jim Hendee <Jim.Hendee at noaa.gov>
>> Good morning Jim, I assume you are the editor/manager of the list?  I am writing to you directly, not the list.  I am a coastal engineer, also subscriber to the coastal list sponsored by UDEL.  Earlier this year, I joined coral list, as I have become more involved in artificial reef design, am working more closely with marine biologists...Basically I joined coral list hoping to gain insight/knowledge, and to experience the same type benefits demonstrated by the coastal list.
>> What a stark contrast between the two lists.  Where the coastal list provides single threaded, concise announcements/responses, such as information on upcoming events, data, employment opps/resumes, projects, research (is there a paper or research on xyz, if so please share info on subject, etc.), it is not an open forum for sarcasm, endless disagreements, personal attacks, belittling others, questioning their knowledge or lack thereof, questioning the motives of the US Govt in the aftermath of the oil spill, etc....
>> My experience with the coral list, unfortunately, has been deeply disappointing and inadvertantly humorous, but in a pitiful way, only a handful of the 20+ daily posts (which I assume are edited for content/appropriateness?) are actually informative (from my perspective).   As an engineer (believe it or not, some of us coastal engineers are also lumped into the tree hugger category), it is precisely this type of preconceived behavior/reputation among environmental professionals that discourages and actually frightens other professionals within the coastal industry of possible project derailment and delays. 
>> I sincerely hope you will consider re-evaluating the purpose and functions of the list, and encourage those who disagree/insult repeatedly to take it up between themselves, off list.  Unless the purpose of the list is in fact this sort of thing (ongoing debates), then I will remove myself from the coral debate list, as I have gained very little insight, a few chuckles, and mostly junk mail.
>> If you agree with me and wish to post this (which will probably receive the same type of insulting backlash), please do so anonymously, remove my name/email address if it might help you in your efforts to reign in the list.  In my opinion, its in a perpetual state of spirally out of control.
>> Thanks for listening,
>> ...anonymous...
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