In the Spirit of Collegial Inquiry...

updated: 22 Jun 98

Guiding Principles **

Proposals for Consensus in Group Dynamics of the Colloquy

I. That present members of Colloquy, transferred from Collegium Online in March '98, are regarded as fully qualified members, so long as they wish to be.

II. That a responsible member with post office box might volunteer as Regent to receive and approve documentation of prior test scores of applicants. A post office box has now been secured by first Regent, Julia Cachia. The title of Regent, an academic role, originated with the Triple Nine Society... representing guidance, not dictatorship. Colloquy is far more similar to a college than a country!

III. That Colloquy not be involved in test administration or scoring... and be kept free from any other fees, dues, reimbursements, or membership charges.

IV. Colloquy will accept only supervised, "standard" tests, i.e., those typically administered under educational or clinical supervision, generally accepted by educators and psychologists. Untimed tests are not excluded per se, provided that normative supervisory controls have been maintained in the process of testing. Essentially this means that the candidate does not keep test forms or ancillary materials after sitting for the test and that the supervised test session is confined to reasonable limits. When one person spends three hours on a test and another spends three hundred, gross distortion of the measure can be expected. The danger is that obsession is selected preferentially over general intelligence. It is an error to regard IQ tests as merely a collection of "brain teasers." Good ones are far more than that, ideally the work of several professionally-trained minds. sentences added: June 98

V. That admission be granted to those presenting reasonable documentation of 'very superior' scores of mental ability, defined as at least 2.58 z-score, 99.5 percentile, or 140 IQ and above on standard tests, adjusted to a scale of 15.53 standard deviations. Updates on qualifying scores will be presented on the main page, consistent with best information available. The Miller Analogies Test, college boards, and Mensa tests, which are all controlled, are naturally acceptable, all the more because we do not directly profit from them. reworded for clarity: June 98

VI. As part of the admission process, the candidate name will be announced on the list by the Regent, with a subject line 'Candidate'. If any member privately posts me some objection to this person, say, within 48 hours, I will discreetly decline this candidate membership in Colloquy, with polite regrets, no names, no noise. You just won't see them on the list.

VII. That incarcerated prisoners are excluded. This is a practical matter rather than an ethical judgment of individual prisoners. There has been too much past disruption in similar groups through machinations of highly intelligent convicts. Thanks, but no.

VIII. That a rule for removing someone from the list be established.... a minimum of three members are required to vote that someone be removed from the list.

IX. That having qualified under legal name, a new member may participate under a single and distinct e-mail username or handle, provided that use is honorable and courteous. As a practical matter, the Regent will know the identity. This is not to encourage the practice, as the overall intent is to create a safe discussion forum where identity can be fully open.

X. Member names and e-mail addresses may not be used for any outside purpose without prior specific consent of the member.

Defining Colloquy:

WRW:   ... I am not in favor of a secret society but maybe testing should be just one component. We should not assume those who have done well on the so called "power tests" are any more unsociable or uncivil than others. However, with what measurement we can use, in addition to the IQ level, I am not sure. I do believe that we must not allow the method of IQ qualification become an issue once we decide. If we do decide to use supervised and un-supervised testing let's accept it and forget about it. I really think much of the rancor begins with debates over those issues.

In order to avoid questions of who is what on what test maybe we should say once you are accepted into this group, your IQ is at the 99.5 level and that's all we need to know. You may be Mega with a 99.999 whatever but once you on this posting you are a 99.5. We do not need any more stratification. Also, why don't we try to aim our discussions to areas that don't result in heated arguments. Who said intelligent people have to debate anything? Discuss, not debate. C- may understand the Universal Truth but I am not sure I want to. What about art, literature and all other interesting areas? Geopolitics?

CW:   Perhaps we could combine personality traits with iq/ieq and level off the top a bit and bring up the bottom. Isn't it more intelligent to get along?

JCC:   Your comments and everyone's really have served well to put all the ideas out on the table for fair consideration. Happily you all performed the task rather more succinctly that I might have. There are distinct options, not so much a matter of "wrong" vs "right" but of trying to conjoin the most ethical, practical, reasonable, and secure policies. The questions center on how serious we wish to be in presenting as an alternative "IQ" society, or whether to discard that controversy and describe ourselves as a discussion group of basically self-selected intellectuals.

My thinking is that there is nothing unique about a discussion list per se... there must be thousands of private ones in addition to the thousands of internet newsgroups. Many of the latter are filled with rancor, likely the natural result of being completely open, and angry folk just go there to fight. Original purposes are overlooked in the melee. That's an argument for some kind of screening, though I know of no "emotional quotient" test which cannot be faked through. Some of our past participants have been challenging as far as it goes, but disappointing (to me) in the ability to provide reasoned discussion or new information to support towering claims. In the last instance the best I got were some links to people who do present something interesting to consider. That was a worthy contribution and the civil part of the discussion was not a bad experience.

Forgive my getting off track. The alternative direction is the claim to be a unique IQ- or IEQ-selected society, doing it all online without the usual dues, testing fees, and such. That would be something worthwhile in novelty alone, perhaps? Now, we all have enjoyed the unsupervised tests. I'm not trying to condemn the dedicated work that went into them or tell you that your scores are invalid, meaningless, or whatever. The designers simply had not the resources to work to impeccable standards.

DM:   ... As a side note, I believe that the decision to exclude imprisoned criminals does, in the end, boil down to an ethical judgment. The practical result of allowing prisoners to join is that some members will find this practice morally repugnant, thereby creating a rift that could threaten the group. I too vote to exclude imprisoned criminals, but would rather the reason for doing so be honestly explained.

JCC:   You said it very well, but there is a reason behind my statement, why I say it is practical and not ethical judgment. You are right, that I did not explain adequately. One cannot be certain of the character or history of any individual prison inmate, only that the courts have passed some judgment. That judgment historically has included racial and ethnic bias, and there are doubtless many people in prison who are no threat to society in general nor to persons here. My primary focus is on the observation that prisoners have some non-intellectual interest in securing a support network on the outside. By all means visit, assist, encourage any "pen"-pal on your own. By my knowledge you are quite likely to have a rude awakening down the line. Whatever. Just leave other Colloquy members out of these efforts, please. This was one of the judgment errors made {in previous societies}. Let's move on to construct this group as a safe, more intellectual environment.

KB:   Perhaps three members deciding on the dismissal of an obstreperous member are too few? I would feel more comfortable (and this is just thinking aloud) with a majority of the online members deciding the judgment.

EM:   crime is deplorable, criminals are deplorable, and punishing them is deplorable. That is my visceral response to the idea of tossing out the miscreants. However, if someone proposes to make a career of disturbing the tranquillity of our discourse, he/she has sown the seeds of discord, then excision or avulsion is the treatment of choice. I would propose that the disturbing associate be warned that his/her behavior, comments, or otherwise odious conduct is both reprehensible and intolerable, and that banishment will be swift and sure if not curtailed of the instant. I think if a third of the group, or any larger segment, finds a member offensive, that is sufficiently reasonable to issue a warning.

LDL:   That might be impossible to achieve if not everyone is actively posting, allowing someone who is flaming to continue doing so because a majority are inactive. I would suggest that the webmistress seeking confirmation, openly on the list, from two other members sending private E-mail, is adequate to decide if a person should be unsubscribed and, very important, must have the right to suspend (temporary unsubscribe) while the decision is being made.

EM:   once a group has existed long enough to define itself as a group, and of equal importance, that emotionally the participants have come to regard themselves as members of said group, there comes into being a group dynamic. This is capable of exercising suasion on a straying member, very often of a considerable strength. If the straying member has been a part of the group long enough to feel a part of it, he/she has a keen vested interest in having the other members regard his point, stand, view, whatever. It very likely is of little interest to those outside the group. If any proposed group member has been apprised of the group sentiment vis a vis personal attacks or coarse language upon affiliating, there should be no reason whatever for quibbling about offenses.

I can appreciate that there may be differences of opinion, even very profound differences, but I do lose patience quickly with those who wish to express anger and frustration by means of foul language and crude personal tirades. I have noted in earlier postings that humans, even at the most exalted intelligence ranges, are very much creatures of habit, particularly so in expressing dislike of one another. What procreative behaviors, and the common words to describe them, have to do with the existence/ non-existence of God, abortion, economics, politics, computer technology, or any other topic, I'll never know, but they seem to be a first choice in expressing anger and frustration. I hold many unorthodox views myself, and I am perfectly willing to explain to anyone as very best I can, why I hold them, and/or why I do not subscribe to a differing view. If someone disagrees with my views, I really don't need any assistance in cataloging my personal, moral, ethical, spiritual or other lapses, I know them better than anyone else. I've been living with them for almost seven decades.

JPr:   Censoring is not a great idea, but I agree those who seem to be looking for problems or creating them need to be monitored. Warning first is a good idea. If I am out of line, I may see it differently, but warning me gives me an opportunity to change my behavior first before my posts are deleted or I am unsubscribed. I tend to run the opposite risk, though, of never saying anything controversial enough to even get me a light slap on the wrist {g}.

JCC:   I am truly impressed with the wisdom of the members, as represented in the full range on comments on candidates and procedures. Something of a hopeful experiment it is, to see how such a gathering of fine minds and hearts can create, sustain, and harvest a garden of intellectual delights. It looks that all will be well and probably few wrists will ever feel the corrective rule! {laugh} As far as I'm concerned, the only taboo is the specifically ad hominem attack against other members of the group, the most stubborn weed among the flowers. Such words are heat without light, surely. It makes good sense to exercise great care in selecting new people for our small online community, and then supporting their expressions with thoughtful consideration, just as you have done.

JPr:   I am all for that. This is precisely the reason I get dismayed with another high IQ group's forum on an internet service provider (no names for either one). I have gone on record as gently chastising my peers about being so mean-spirited, and been flamed in return. Now I simply lurk when I feel like it.

JCC:   More than a few individuals of high intelligence have grown up in a very defensive climate and consequently exhibit some deficiencies in "emotional quotient" in interactions with intellectual peers. It is a sad misfortune, not a disparagement of mental brilliance, that some have a long history of disruptive behaviors in societies where ordinarily the deepest sympathy might be found. Colloquy is not designed to encompass all demands, but something more modest in scope, further limited by the necessity of a practical level of computer literacy.

JPr:   The former is certainly true of me, and I trust with all my heart the latter never will be...

JCC:   It is somewhat more problematic to require a third of the membership to issue a complaint before warning. It is possible that many are reluctant to do so for a number of reasons. Much reliance is placed on creating, from the start, a congenial atmosphere for our discussions, and defining quite narrowly the nature of offense. Not writing controversial thoughts, not engaging in critique of opinion or facts, but in throwing personal barbs or otherwise hostile action against the entire group. Most probably you all know it when you see it and will request me to take appropriate action.

I do approve of the manner in which you implemented the recent candidate review; the concerns were fairly stated; and I informed one candidate that his name was not accepted for membership according to our review process. It seems that all the comments were public ... public or private are fine from my standpoint. It's well that we not import troubles and personal feuds from other groups. Consider it as learning from history on a clear basis of risk vs. benefit. {smile}

JPr:   That's a good point, so whatever procedure works most effectively will be fine with me. When I get flamed now I simply don't respond to it, I respond to something else instead or nothing at all if it seems in the best interest of keeping the peace. After all, what can someone do to me? I live on a little island in the Pacific and most folks won't go out of their way to seek me out in person. :-)

EM:   We are a small group, and a very new one as well. I would guess it will take about a year to see if we are a group at all, and two years before there is any real emotional sense of groupiness on the part of the participants. A thought occurs to me. In any group, once the participants have come to know each other really well, there comes a sense of stagnation. The members know each other so well there is no need to ask, "What do you think of xyz?", in that everyone already knows what each other thinks of xyz, and abc along with it. New people are needed, or visitors, to maintain, or heighten, the enjoyment of group interaction.

Now watch Eric go out on a limb and jump off! Here is my idea anyhow. If/when this group actually does become a group, perhaps in a year? (please note the date, someone), regular group members (what is a regular group member? someone who participates regularly in the group) may at their discretion, invite guests. The guests would know in advance that they are not members, but their opinions, ideas, or personalities are so engaging that they are desired.

... I have been awfully disappointed at times in meeting people known to have astonishing i.q. scores. Let me think of a comparison. It is something like meeting a person who is very wealthy, but who is also a cheapskate and tightwad. Such people have huge resources, but what they give, or share, is a trifle.

If/when this group becomes established there will evolve a nucleus, or core membership of true believers, or true friends, whatever, who will carry forward the intellectual adventure. There might then be established an affiliate group*** of associates, clearly noted, who are not selected on the basis of established i.q. score, but rather simply individual personal recommendation. I have two friends of the moment who are much given to reading and the discussion of ideas in a spirit of good will, though I suspect they would be hard pressed to produce a qualifying score of 99.5 or 99.9 either one. I think if my life depended on it I could produce a current score of 99.9 in extremis, but my life doesn't depend on it, so I will not address the matter.

JCC:   {An affiliate group*** is} certainly a viable possibility. The general consensus was to retain the 99.5 %ile scores as an admissions requirement; if nothing else it does establish the uniqueness of Colloquy. The idea originated out of some theoretical conversations and correspondence of year ago, wringing our hands at the problems of another intellectual society, wondering whether a few different approaches might not create something of value. Certainly there's no shortage of potential members, about thirty million, all told! I suspect that a significant portion of those are already active on the internet. Without being too ambitious, it's sufficient just to have some very bright people participating here ... this list can handle up to 250, but the practical limit is surely lower.

What I've sought to do for the wider circle is build up the web pages out of the discussion material. I've already found it so interesting just to see what topics have drawn some commentary, and also to see the great diversity of expertise, hobbies, passions, and opinions. For the future, it's open-ended, but the conservative approach seems wise ... we might spill into several lists or independent journals, something in the nature of "special interest groups". In truth though, Colloquy seems to be finding its own direction pretty well, much to my relief! smile. Certainly if anyone has the energy and means to open a few spin-off groups on any basis, and announce them here, it's only to the good. Perhaps one problem of societies has been some need to centralize and attempt to administer everything under some control structure. Beyond basic common sense matters, very much of that puts a damper on the individual creativity that we surely cherish most highly.

EM:   Julia, you are no stranger to the extreme i.q. societies, nor am I. I very much like the idea of a base group at the 99.5 level to establish individuality of the group and sense of direction, or point of commonality. With the "Freethinker Journal", Anna Partington was the only participant who was not a member of an i.q. group, though I think she easily demonstrated qualifying potential. So, I am in agreement that extreme i.q. is a good approach, the same as any other shared interest or characteristic of humans. Along with this, I am very mindful that when you find superbright people, you unhappily sometimes find egos to match, and abrasive personalities. I am sincerely hoping that this group will prove viable and enduring... I am still also of the opinion that interesting and interested visitors*** could add another happy dimension to the group, much as Mensa invited monthly speakers. The person invited is paid a compliment by being invited, and the invitee may in turn have specific expertise of interest and value to the base group.

** These principles, as amended by further discussion among Colloquy members, will be posted in this section, with qualifying admissions scores posted on the main page. Expect some changes as we polish them in ongoing discussion. It's not written in stone. {smile}

*** By popular request, Friends of Colloquy. See also the "Food for Thought" and "High Level Intelligence" links on the main page, as these will feature some pages created by Colloquy Friends.

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