Welcome to Darwin’s Legacy. This will be a forum for discussing public writing about issues related to evolution as it pertains to science, education, and American politics. Our primary focus will be examining and analyzing the rhetorical techniques that we see. If you are a student in GW’s Darwin’s Legacy class, you will be participating every week, either contributing an original post or joining in the discussion about one or more recent posts.
For those of you who regularly follow or contribute to a blog, the rules I describe below are going to look very familiar. If you aren’t accustomed to following blogs, I suggest you explore some of the excellent websites we’ve recommended, available in a list of links on the right side of this page.
Here are the basic rules:
- Read the blog. This is obvious but important. Pick out at least one post each week and read it, read any materials it discusses, and follow the discussion. If you look to the menu on the right, you’ll see an option to follow the blog. Go ahead and click on that “Follow” button right now.
- Be professional. This includes behaving with courtesy, avoiding name-calling and profanity, and proof-reading your contributions before you post them.
- Only write things that are true. This is not an appropriate forum for playing devil’s advocate, sarcastically saying the opposite of what you mean, or intentionally fostering misinformation. The goal here is to communicate as clearly and honestly with others as possible, an essential characteristic for a good future leader.
- What about information that isn’t “factual,” where there may be more than one possible approach, or where opinions may legitimately differ? That’s not a problem, as long as you are supporting the opinions you actually hold. Also, make sure that your opinions are grounded in some kind of evidence: past experience, science, the advice of experts, logic—anything other than just your gut instinct or personal preference.
- Treat the posts as though you are the moderator. If someone posts something crazy or inaccurate, correct them (politely, of course). If you think someone has misunderstood some key point, look it up and clarify, or at least mention that you think this is a misunderstanding. This is especially important when it comes to posts that you originate.
- You must absolutely positively read all the comments before you post your own comment. Why? See the next two points.
- All of your posts should contribute something new to the discussion. If someone has already made a point, you don’t need to reiterate it (unless you think you can express it more clearly, or add crucial details).
- Treat each post and its comments as a discussion, and respond appropriately. If you are writing about a point that several other people have made, mention them, just as you would if you were in a class discussion: “I agree with futureprez2032 that we need to consider parents’ opinions, but this shouldn’t be taken to extremes…” Also feel free to refer to earlier posts or points from class.
- Links to outside material: When you are the first one to reference a particular news story or YouTube video or other material, provide a link for it. This is vital when you are the one originating a post. You can also add links in the discussion, as long as you make sure to explain why the link is relevant.
If this list seems a bit daunting, don’t worry. It won’t be long before all of these rules feel completely obvious and natural.
– Prof. Schell