What do I mean by ‘stay professional’?
First of all, follow accepted scientific methods. Explore a wide gamut of possible solutions. And, more to the point of this blog: If you are going to make a comment about what a paleontologist has put forth as a hypothesis, keep your comments to the subject at hand. Use data, logic, your higher brain centers. Don’t abuse the author with personal insults that reflect how your inner monkey is feeling. In the professional world those forays into negativity can be labeled ‘ad hominem attacks” and they are not tolerated in academic publications (see below). More importantly, such comments can backfire on your professional reputation.
Several readers of this blog
have sunk below their professional dignity in their comments, perhaps because they became frustrated with what was being reported. It’s okay to feel frustrated. Just don’t let that enter your comments to anyone, anywhere. Stay professional in your demeanor.
The fact that Wikipedia
has a topic devoted to ad hominem attacks and various academic publications, like PlosOne forbid it (see below), tells you that it is commonplace.
Here are a few pulled quotes
from a recent blog on the subject.
- Aristotle argued that the ethos of a speaker is relevant to the persuasiveness of what they have to say. (ethos = the characteristic spirit)
- Everyone with critiques should continue coloring inside the lines, because that works.
- There is no place for naming and shaming.
- “Trash talk” didn’t emerge only with social media: it has always been there. Case in point: the first Astronomer Royal called Edmond Halley, “a lazy and malicious thief” who manages to be just as “lazy and slothful as he is corrupt”. (Edmond Halley is widely revered today for his discoveries as an astronomer.)
- Avoid the ad hominem response: Just because you take offense, is not proof that offense was intended. Trying to separate that out makes it easier to see past the words and into the actual content, and gain analytic perspective.
- We have a lot to learn about each other and how to communicate in ways that get ideas across without diminishing people.
- Resist giving in to defensive emotion as much as you can: it clouds your vision.
- Pushing the envelope and collaborating in the open will push science forward.
From the PlosOne comments section:
Please follow our guidelines for comments and review our competing interests policy. Comments that do not conform to our guidelines will be promptly removed and the user account disabled. The following must be avoided:
- Remarks that could be interpreted as allegations of misconduct
- Unsupported assertions or statements
- Inflammatory or insulting language
When you go to conferences (= symposia), as I hope you will, and you meet your peers face to face, you will want to happily greet friends and colleagues, share dinner, discussions and hypotheses. This goes so much better when you haven’t tried to shame and disparage them.