Today’s session started out in a similar procedure to all the previous BDG (Biology Discussion Group) sessions. The chair established the groundwork of the discussion/debate. Exchanges then took place in a civil and calmly manner for a major part of the session before all hell broke loose after a (not-so-accidental) controversial remark was made. And I for one have to say, it was GLORIOUS. Harry Delph was the first one to retaliate but a quick succession of heated exchanges between the religious and the heathens kept the spirit of the debate very much alive. Hannah Rushton, a fierce advocate of the environment and its complex ecosystems, made a very convincing case for the seemingly meaningless lives of starfish against grand design. Tarn, a believer whose faith is a force to be reckoned with, retorted with fiery fervour so intense she forgot she needed to breathe in those 30 seconds of righteous fury. The back-and-forth argumentation was a stark contrast to the initial 20 minutes of peaceful storytelling.
Today’s BDG sesh confirmed an inkling I have had about these weekly BDG congregations, namely, people actually look forward to BDG sessions in the days leading up to it. It’s not just a dour dialogue about highbrow academic topics. It is intense and passionate and loud and strong opinions are aroused during the course of these discussions. BDG is one of the few clubs where the role of peacekeeper is very much in demand. As far as I am concerned, it is not just a platform to discuss high-minded scientific ideas with impartial judgement; for many of us, it is catharsis. Sheer release of emotion. You can see it in how readily BDG members jump at the opportunity to voice their opinions. People have researched the topic and they’ve done their homework on the issue. They’re ready to show the results of their reading. Those lengthy monologues in our head culminate in a BDG session where it comes out in all its brilliant fury. There’s an element of spontaneity and also an informality in these gatherings that prevents these discussions from becoming too stilted. Not to mention the free food and the social aspect of these freewheeling dialogues.
I believe we’ve stumbled upon a magic formula here. BDG is that rare combination of being intellectually stimulating, socially accepting and most importantly, fun.
BDG is an appointed occasion for people to go on a verbal outburst without fearing the social consequences of offending someone. It is a designated time and place for people to explore and espouse radically different viewpoints that they normally would not.
Never in BDG has anyone walked away with bitter feelings. I think it’s important we acknowledge this in order to engage in these discussions more fully (e.g. I literally told Max to die in BDG today and we’re still friends – I think). What happens in BDG, stays in BDG.
What I’d like to propose is this, to outline the purpose of these Biology Discussion Sessions. By expressly articulating the purpose of BDG, I hope to clarify what these discussions are for, so that we can get the most out of these sessions. A BDG Manifesto that states clearly the objective of BDG itself. BDG is there for us to engage intellectually with scientific issues. The second, less obvious but equally important purpose of BDG is to serve as an outlet for all of the academic reading we do over the course of the week. If there is anything to show for our nerdiness; then it’s in these BDG sessions. Finally, (and this is the most important) the ultimate purpose of BDG is TO HAVE FUN. Because life is inherently meaningless, so we might as well have fun while we’re still here.
Peace out *mike drops*