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Talking Circles


I find only frustration when I try to engage in a serious discourse on the Internet. I would like to suggest for consideration that the forum facilitate a Talking Circles dialogue.


Talking Circles is a technique used in colleges to teach dialogical thinking. This technique has evidently proved effective when decisions are required about issues wherein there is no right or wrong answer; such matters as social and moral concerns can be discussed within a non-judgmental climate.


A particular issue is defined in a short statement and every entry is directed only to that statement and no comment is directed at other comments. The group should be small, perhaps seven members or less.


This whole matter is described here:




Suppose we start with a short essay like the following and ask for a first response to this post by those who wish to enter into a dialogue.


A prudent society would put technology on hold


The aims of technology are achieved and our chances for survival are fatally diminished. The fault is not in our technology but in us. The fault lies within human society.


McLuhan made us aware of the fact that technology is an extension of our self. I would say that we and also our ecosystem are both gestalts, a whole, wherein there are complex feedback loops that permit self healing and various means that protect us from our self.


The dictionary defines gestalt as meaning a structure, configuration, or pattern of physical, biological, or psychological phenomena so integrated as to constitute a functional unit with properties not derivable by summation of its parts. When we interfere with the gestalt, i.e. our ecosystem or our self, we are changing some one or some few of the feedback loops that help us maintain equilibrium. Such modifications, if not fully understood, can send the gestalt into a mode wherein equilibrium can no longer be maintained.


In 1919 Ernest Rutherford announced to a shocked world “I have been engaged in experiments which suggest that the atom can be artificially disintegrated. If it is true, it is far greater importance than a war.” Today’s stem-cell research could, in my opinion, be considered as more important than a war and also more important than Rutherford’s research success.


The discussion regarding the advisability of continuing stem-cell research primarily focuses on the religious/political factor and on the technology but there is little or no focus upon the impact that could result to our society beyond its health effects.


We are unwilling or unable to focus on the long-term effects of our technology and thus should put much of it on hold until we gain a better means to evaluate the future implications of our technology. What do you think about this serious matter?



I am suggesting that we form a means for dialogue. What is a dialogue?




Under our normal cultural situation communication means to discourse, to exchange opinions with one another. It seems to me that there are opinions, considered opinions, and judgments. Opinions are a dime-a-dozen. Considered opinions, however, are opinions that have received a considerable degree of thought but have not received special study. A considered opinion starts out perhaps as tacit knowledge but receives sufficient intellectual attention to have become consciously organized in some fashion. Judgments are made within a process of study.


In dialogue, person ‘A’ may say something and in return person ‘B’ does not respond with exactly the same meaning as does ‘A’. The meanings are generally similar but not identical; thus ‘A’ listening to ‘B’ perceives a disconnect between what she said and what ‘B’ replies. ‘A’ then has the opportunity to respond with this disconnect in mind, thereby creating a response that takes these matters into consideration; ‘A’ performs an operation known as a dialectic (a juxtaposition of opposed or contradictory ideas). And so the dialogical process proceeds.


A dialogical process is not one wherein individuals reason together in an attempt to make common, ideas that are already known to each individual. ”Rather, it may be said that the two people are making something in common, i.e., creating something new together.” Dialogical reasoning together is an act of creation, of mutual understanding, of meaning.


Dialogic can happen only if both individuals wish to reason together in truth, in coherence, without prejudice, and without trying to influence each other. Each must be prepared to “drop his old ideas and intentions. And be ready to go on to something different, when this is called for…Thus, if people are to cooperate (i.e., literally to ‘work together’) they have to be able to create something in common, something that takes shape in their mutual discussions and actions, rather than something that is conveyed from one person who acts as an authority to the others, who act as passive instruments of this authority.”


“On Dialogue” written by “The late David Bohm, one of the greatest physicists and foremost thinkers this century, was Fellow of the Royal Society and Emeritus Professor of Physics at Birkbeck College, University of London.


Bohm is convinced that communication is breaking down as a result of the crude and insensitive manner in which it is transpiring. Communication is a concept with a common meaning that does not fit well with the concepts of dialogue, dialectic, and dialogic.

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I refer to the introduction you wrote above and not the text.

I think it is a hard thing to enforce on members but you can try to do it yourself when you start a thread annd explain it at the start (like here) and then if it works you can still ask one of the admins to lock access to that thread only to those people participating from the start (in order to keep the group small as you said this is a need)

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I looked up the word and it seems that funky means cowardly. I do not comprehend why my suggestion is cowardly.

Funky has a number of meanings:

1. Having a moldy or musty smell: funky cheese; funky cellars or a strong, offensive, unwashed odor.

2. Of or relating to music that has an earthy quality reminiscent of the blues.

3. Characterized by originality and modishness; unconventional

4. Earthy and uncomplicated; natural

5. Outlandishly vulgar or eccentric in a humorous or tongue-in-cheek manner

I can't find mention of "cowardly" anywhere. Where did you find that?


Used in the context that GAHD is using it, it is the street slang that corresponds to definition 3. Even my 80-year old stepdad interpreted it this way when I showed it to him.


Is there a reason you pick out the most negative definition possible and *assume* that's what he meant?




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I would like to suggest for consideration that the forum facilitate a Talking Circles dialogue.

This whole matter is described here:


I’m unable to find any reference to talking circles at the sesd.sk.ca link, but assume you’re referring to the rules of order described in the wikipedia article “talking circle”. I’m very familiar with the procedure, as it’s the one used in most of the “anarchistic” societies I’ve frequented. It’s one of the least complicated set of rules of order, working well in my experience in setting from Cub Scouts to non-profit board meetings to the aforementioned anarchist societies.


In essence, a talking circle is a thread in which people post in a predefined order. While I’m unaware of any software that could be incorporated into hypograpy to enforce this automatically, a combination of explanation in the initial post, including a link to a description of the procedure to follow, good manners from participants, and moderator cleanup of any mistakes, could, I think, make it work with the software as is.


I propose the following procedure:

  1. Thread-starting post describes topic for discussion, and Talking Circle Thread procedure (these steps), including “Start” date/time that must be reached before discussion can begin.
  2. Until Start is reached, participants post a single “Join” post. No content beyond the word “join” is allowed in these posts. If the thread starter wishes to be a participant, they may post a “Join” post.
  3. After Start is reached, the post starter (or the first member to post a Join post) posts a “Begin” post containing a single (possibly wrapped) line listing of the circle order, which is in order of the Join posts. Again, no additional content is allowed in this post.
  4. The first person in the order list – the “talking stick holder”:

    1. Posts any content he wishes
    2. Ends his post with the order, his name moved from the front of the list to the back.

This step is repeated indefinitely.

[*]At any time after Start a new participant may post a single “Join” post. Upon posting, the current stick holder adds her to the end of the list, immediately before their own name.

[*]At any time, a participant may post a single “Un-join” post. This post may contain nothing but the word “Un-join”. Upon posting, the current stick holder removes him from the order.

[*]When the current talking stick holder makes no post, the discussion is effectively ended.

In the spirit of experimentation with new things, if this procedure is agreeable to all, I suggest that somebody (Coberst?) start a thread as described in the procedure. Before doing so, however, I propose he state the forum in which he will start the first TCT, and that a moderator for that thread (or an administrator) post their approval and willingness to serve as the rule enforcer/mistake fixer for it.



Should an Amendment to the US Constitution repealing the Second Amendment be proposed?


This is a Talking Circle Thread. Before replying, read ”Talking Circle Thread posting procedure”. Discussion will begin at 6:30 AM, Friday, 27 April 2007.

Discussion is now started.


Order: Bob; Carol; Don; Alice

I’m opposed. Only through ownership of arms is the militia kept ready for times of war


Order: Carol; Don; Alice; Bob

I favor such an Amendment. The Second Amendment is based an obsolete model of warfare


Order: Don; Alice; Bob; Carol

I’m opposed. Although not contained in the Constitution, writing by Jefferson and others makes it clear that the purpose of the Second Amendment was not to assure a capable militia, but that the People could successfully rebel against a corrupt government


Order: Alice; Bob; Carol; Edith; Don

I support such an Amendment. Both the idea that arms ownership strengthens the militia, and that an armed People can successfully rebel against a modern government with a standing army, are incorrect.


Order: Bob; Edith; Don; Alice

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