11:00 - A Warm Welcome (20 Minutes)
This is a great opportunity to casually meet other friendly and open-minded guests before the meeting formally begins.
11:20 - Presentation (20 Minutes)
Our Local Group Leader will cover important announcements and give an educational or motivational lecture on a certain week’s topic.
11:40 - Free Thought Forum (80 Minutes or so)
Guests and Members will gather into small groups around volunteer “hosts” who act as moderators to free and open discussions in which all participants are encouraged to contribute their thoughts in accordance with our “Five Rules for Civil Discourse.”
Each Free Thought Forum exists to promote healthy civil discussion and celebrate the free-exchange of ideas with an emphasis on granting all participants opportunities to share. We assert that one’s ability to voice their ideas and have them supported, contested, tested, and reviewed among peers (and in-person) is an indispensable tool in one’s honest search for the correct answers to life’s most important questions.
Five Rules for Civil Discourse
By participating in each Free Thought Forum, all guests, members, and hosts agree to abide by the following:
1. Be Respectful of Each Other’s Time
If a designated host senses that you have taken more than 5 minutes to make a point, he/she will insist that someone else is given an opportunity to talk. Do not to interrupt or talk over someone else.
2. Criticize Ideas, not People
No one comes to an open discussion to be personally attacked. If you believe that an idea deserves criticism, it is essential that you address the claims or opinions themselves. This also applies to groups of people. There is nothing wrong with criticizing what a group of people profess, as long as the people themselves are treated with respect. Phrases such as “I disagree,” “what makes you say that?” or “what do you think of the counter-argument?” are all useful in keeping the conversation positive and inclusive.
3. Avoid Fallacious Argument or Unsubstantiated Declarations
Committing a logical fallacy or making bold claims without explaining the reasoning behind why you believe as you do can hinder productive thought and meaningful discussion.
4. Be Open to Scrutiny and a Diversity of Opinion
The objective of each meeting is not for someone to “win” or to “convert” anyone else. A discussion is not a debate. Rather, it is to allow each participant’s idea to compete in an open marketplace of ideas under to its own merits.
5. Recognize the Authority of the Host as Moderator
Your host (a trained volunteer) is much like a sports referee or a judge in a courtroom. In order to maintain civility and to promote productive dialogue, all participants agree to respectfully follow their Host’s facilitation and moderation.