The following is a basic guide for posting in the Vestigia Vetustatis. If you think there are any errors in the post, or if you think it omits any points, feel free to post in the topic below and they will be corrected/added to the guide.
1) Posting new threads in the VV
2) Sourcing information
- what is a credible source?
- what is not a credible source?
3) Hot Topics
- On History
- On Religion
1) POSTING THREADS IN THE VV
There are few basic steps you can follow which will help you start a healthy discussion.
(i)If you think your topic of discussion is likely to have been discussed before, search it out and see if you’re posting anything new about the topic. If its new information, a new thread is a good place to start. If it has been discussed before, or is not adding anything new and you must post... do it in an old topic on the subject – it makes things easier for those searching the forum in the future. If a previously discussed topic hasn’t been discussed for a long period then it can be considered "dead" and it's that way for a reason - you may get away with starting it again – it’s a judgement call.
(ii)Avoid name calling, deliberate offence and sarcasm. If you are targeted by any of these, don’t bite back. The internet is full of trolling (people who post deliberately baiting remarks to cause offence) and people often use offensive remarks to hide their own errors.
2) SOURCING INFORMATION
(thanks ThiudareiksGunthigg, Bokks, and ray243)
Where you source your information reflects on your credibility. You should be 100% sure of the credibility of your source before you present your case.
What is a credible source?
A credible source is one which is published, referenced and has a clear methodology - i.e. you can follow the argument back to its own source information.
Credible work will have been through a process of ‘peer review’ where academics in the chosen field have checked the work out for authenticity. It will most likely have been published and made available to the general public. In both cases there may be review material available.
What to Look For:
(i) Is the author a professional academic associated with a university or research institution?
(ii) Is the work published by a credible academic press?
(iii) Does the author reference their claims and list the works used in their research in a Bibliography and/or notes? If so, are the books in the notes and bibliography reputable, professional works?
(iii) Was the book well received by other experts and praised in reviews by qualified reviewers?
(iv) With websites - does the writer refer to or reference source material and secondary works like the ones mentioned above? Are the claims found on the site supported and backed up by other sites, books, articles and sources (and how credible are they?)
What is not a credible source?
Think of it this way... if a man on the street walked up to you and told you that he had just seen a 200 meter tall pink elephant wearing a Darth Vader mask walking down the road would you believe him unquestioned?
If you use articles which don’t have any sources or references showing where the information came from – you are trusting a complete stranger with unknown motives with your credibility.
What to Beware Of:
(i) Beware of books by small-time presses or self-published works that claim to present radical new information or perspectives - if the author has such amazing information, why can't he get it published by a major press?
(ii) Beware of any book, even by a big publisher, that claims to "reveal hidden secrets" or "uncover the real story" or to otherwise overturn established ideas etc. This rarely happens via popular paperbacks.
(iii) Beware of any book published by any press or organisation with an agenda. A book on how the Holocaust never happened is unlikely to be reliable if it's published by a Neo-Nazi group. A history of Christianity by the American Atheist press is less likely to be objective compared to one published by the University of Cambridge.
(iv) Treat any self-published book with a high degree of scepticism.
(v) With web pages, double and triple-check all claims on the web against several other sources, preferably books or web-pages which are heavily supported by references. Even then, check the references.
(vi) How old is the material?. What was standard thought once may not be now. If you are using older material double check that it has not been discredited. Older material may reflect political or cultural biases which are no longer relevant.
Special note: Commonly questioned sources
Wikipedia: There is always a lot of debate about Wikipedia pages. Anybody can alter a Wikipedia page so you always have to be careful when referencing Wikipedia articles. If the page has a clear set of references that you can follow up which follow the guidelines (above) then Wikipedia can be a handy place to start your research.
Television and commercial media: Commercial media is designed to sell advertising by keeping you watching or reading. Therefore any commercial information must be thoroughly checked out before you use it as a source. Is it free from bias? Does it have reputable references in the credits? Are they trying to sell you anything?
The Bible: The bible contains a wealth of stories which can be used as source material. A lot of what you read in there is independently verifiable - But some is not. In a world where there are many religions with differing opinions, be aware that you will be questioned if you present information from the bible which hasn't been independently verified. This does not mean the bible is untrue. It just means that elements are unproven. The same is true for any religious text.
3) HOT TOPICS
(thanks ThiudareiksGunthigg and SigniferOne)
The following is a list of popular topics which re-occur and cause a lot of debate on the VV. Feel free to discuss them, but if you do discuss any of these topics, it's advisable to do a quick search on the forum to see where the conversations have gone in the past, and to come prepared with a little research of your own.
1. Common misconceptions about the Roman Empire... barbarism, christianity, moral decline etc...
2. Causes of the Dark Ages - Including Christianity and Intellectual stagnation
3. Period X was "bad"/ Period Y was "good".
4. The crusades and the motives behind them.
5. Medieval armies and their tactics.
6. Corruption in the church.
7. The Da Vinci Code.
8. Misconceptions about The Inquisition.
9. Education in the Medieval period
10. Anything that is "true because my high school teacher said so".
11. Who was the greatest?, this person vs that person, this country vs that country.. etc
12. Alternative history.. what if "blah" hadn't happened?
1. The existence of Jesus (or any historic religious figure).
2.The movie Zeitgeist.
3. Theism vs Theism... Religion vs Religion... Atheism vs Religion etc
5. "The Bible" or "The Koran" or "other religious text" is true and proven by historians/schollars/researchers
6. Stereotypes about the origins of particular religions
7. Christianity in the Roman Empire
8. Catholicism/Orthodoxy/Protestantism/my church is the real Christianity the way Jesus wanted it to be (Religion vs Religion).
9. The truth about Miracles and Icons
1. Aliens: how they connected ancient civilisations, how they are to blame for unexplained phenomena
2. Psychic powers.
3. Random trendy theories