Dr Shantanu Panigrahi elaborates on the ideal internet discussion forum for truth-seekers (First posted 2014)
My definition of a genuine truth-seeker is one who seeks the truth, exposes the truth and lives at one with the truth. In this way he is a satya-advatist in Hindu parlance, for full truth-accommodation is his goal in life. I am one such person, and have always been so. It is my religion. The satya-advaitist seeks the truth and exposes his view points as truth on all aspects of humanity, especially where matters are not clear-cut because the science is lacking in important respects. These are the areas where he launches his considered conjectures and speculations in order to promote discussion that might lead to the further generation and establishment of the truth from the implicit revisionary researches: the process of truth search leads to a final position on all issues that is rational. It requires him to take moral stances on every issue based on his perceived reality. This is a continual process until full realisation dawns. When this happens there is nothing conerning morality that is left to learn.
Since he lives at one with the truth a satya-advaitist has to be very careful and debate issues with concern for his reputation as a respectable analyser of facts and as a person of utter honesty in his dealings which should reflect the goal that he only thinks and expresses opinions in a defendable manner that is in accordance with what he truly believes to be the best outlook for all of humanity to follow and which is therefore in the interests of humanity at large. His sights are set at achieving that ideal. It is a mission. It follows that those who do not have this ideal are not genuine truth seekers. If one does not accommodate pristine truth into ones conduct and outlook on life the ultimate conception of reality will not come to the individual. Without truth accommodation a person can go wherever he or she wishes and not learn anything of substance.
I have found through my journey of internet forum-based truth-seeking that when conjectures and speculations are put forward in this way to rationalise ideas it can make some people very angry as they will disagree with what is proposed as not supported by their perceptions and because they are looking for adequate scientifically-derived evidence. They ignore the fact that science cannot tell us everything and that this should not prevent us from joining the dots of the puzzle on life as seems reasonable based on one’s powers of intellect and reasoning. My words have frequently come into conflict with the views of people who neither follow this logic nor understand my intentions as a truth-seeker wanting to promote discussions. They get irritated into venomic personal attack and character assassination for they cannot follow the truth that is being attained. They may be concerned about what is good for only certain particular sections of humanity (feminism, atheism, etc), and are constrained by being mired in their comfort zones, of having vested interests, and having a desire for adopting the politically-correct stance of the day. These obstacles do not deter the truth-seeker from stating the facts as he reads them. To prevent the information being lost the truth-seeker has to accumulate the facts discovered and write his thesis on the theory of everything. That was the purpose behind my blogsite where all my moral values are synthesised and written down as a compilation on humanity. Genuine truth seekers must develop their own thesis which they should continually update and revise as truth is delved into through an increasingly deeper way and ultimate truth is reached.
If administrators at Atheism plus, Secular Cafe and Rational Skepticism were/are not grown up-enough in terms of objectivity to take my developing views and retain me on their boards for people to debate and argue with, that is a reflection of their infantile censoring attitudes of taking away the ball on contentious issues to protect their public image, and shows that they are not concerned about generating an atmosphere in the boards that is conducive to truth exposure. A truth-seeker must not waste any time over such attitudes that he encounters and proceed with his quest for the truth relentlessly because a person has limited time in his life to learn and get it right. A forum that prevents any legitimate argued and reasoned view-point from being expressed though bullying the individual, restricting him/her from posting by creating barriers, and outright banning of the individual as a troll or for holding particular views is not a forum suitable for truth-seekers. Rather, they are fora for special community development. The truth-seeker must move on from these pastures and find other means of study. A truth-seeker cannot be part of any internet community other than the community of truth-seekers.
I got the impression from all my postings that internet discussion fora look upon genuine truth seekers as parasites on the knowledge of others, and this is exacerbated when a poster like me simultaneously owns his own website blogging on the same contemporary issues on the basis of knowledge that has been filtered through the poster’s interactions with other opinion in those fora. They therefore see the continuing participation of such a poster as a threat to the functioning of their boards. My blogsite (http://shantanup.wordpress.com/) is therefore seen a rival discussion forum in itself seeking and receiving informed comments from bonafide commentators. This causes some administrators concern that all issues are already hammered out and available for consultation and so that such ‘parasitic’ posters need to be banned to protect the integrity of the websites. I would not give up my blogging at any cost because for me interent discussion forums are indeed nothing more than venues for investigation of topics whereas my blogs are my truth-updates in a summarised form.
The rules of Talk Rational also appear to promote a truth-exposing community and therefore a good venue for truth seeking, but it has shortcomings. It allows too much one line stupid humour that generates a massive amount of junk posts that get in the way of objective discussions. It is also not an ideal forum because it has a policy of not restricting posters who harass individuals, derail threads and use bad language. Both of these are disruptive to the operation of a board that will not generate productive discussions. Because of its emphasis on freedom of expression, Talk Rational does not employ this banning facility, which in turn deters thoughtful and committed posters from regularly posting there thus reducing the prospects for stimulating good discussions from which newly arriving truth-seekers can learn. So, what one gets at Talk Rational is a lot of annoying talk and flippant one or two word or single sentence remarks, that do not even form conversations, and it does not have much of the intense meaty exchanges that delve into issues deep with the factual substance that a truth-seeker needs. The banning of thoroughly disruptive posters has therefore to be kept as an option used by an internet Forum.
Freethought and Rationalism Discussion Board is undoubtedly one board that was highly conducive to being exploited by the truth seeker for learning. It also had a very well organised subfora structure to provide an good environment for the truth seeker. The only thing wrong with it is that its bans appear to be irreversible. A ban for 6 months should be placed before one is banned for life. I would therefore recommend that truth-seekers start their internet discussion forum journey from a visit to Freethought and Rationalism Discussion Board.
I should stress that I have personally benefitted from my visits to all the forums referred to in this website (as well as Religious Forums) for I have learnt things from each. These forums have something different to teach us all. They have different types of posters that we can learn from. So they are all worth joining and participating in. Restricting oneself to just a single forum will amount to denying oneself all-round knowledge. A genuine truthseeker must go everywhere that there is the possibility to learn. Being banned by Freethought and Rationalism Discussion board turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I was then forced to turn to other boards to continue my examination of the many outstanding issues that concerned me. However, given the choice I would rather be a member of Freethought and Rationalism Discussion Board than any of the others that I have visited as a member.