Make no mistake about it, the Q-board skirmish became about winning.. you don't hear people going "Who came out of the debate in agreement?" because that's was not the goal. Everything about what ECF members were trying to accomplish came down to winning the debate. In this situation to "help" people no longer became a passive activity of waiting for the masses to come to ~us~... it became a proselytizing activity. That's further proved by the increasingly hard and absolutest language the ECF community has adopted. How often have we seen some reference to curing cancer? Or an attribution of safety to e-cigs that is not remotely close to earned (but well theorized).
It had every dynamic of a dialog on religion and salvation. Thus, for a majority of people, it became unthinkable to back down from their position because to do so would have shattered a foundation of absolute beliefs that contribute to who they are. There were at least three/four dozen posts on the ECF side of the fence about Addicts and Twelve-step programs precisely to try to help people related to this.
And if your stated goal is to help as many people as possible reduce the harm of their addiction then WINNING the debate should be the goal. To win a debate you have to establish the metrics by which victory has been achieved and then you have to decide the fronts/fields of discussion. My own position is that the metrics should be phrased in risk management terms. NOT absolute terms because 1) those lend themselves to being blown up and 2) we should've be naive enough to assume we have absolute solutions.
So I'll throw out two metrics that I think all ECF members would agree upon are the MINIMAL "position" points of ECFers:
1) Electronic cigarettes provide a substantially safer alternative to traditional analog cigarettes.
2) Existing smoking cessation programs and NRTs have a very high rate of failure and relapse.
And a third I'm not sure everybody at ECF even agrees on but I think is only sensible if you're moving outward-and-beyond our walls to educate people.
3) Electronic cigarettes provide the most flexible and engaging smoking cessation solution available to date.
Now... a brief step back to why I think the absolute terms like "cure" and "safe" should not be used. Because any one incident demonstrating otherwise immediately blows up the credibility of the messenger. The diacetyl example or lead components come to mind.
OK... so now to establish the fronts/fields where this debate should take place? I think John, Kristen, Randy, Shannon, and others have been clear it should take place EVERYWHERE. I personally think that is a mistake but don't want to devolve this post into a tactical discussion.
Given those metrics and fronts/fields how can you look at the Q-boards skirmish as anything other than the prequel to the debate? Think about that for a moment.... you think that was ugly at times? You've got major Western countries banning components of e-cig solutions. You've got Big Tobacco and Big Pharma looking at another slice of their pie under attack. You've got Legislators looking at lost tax revenue. You've got academics whose funding depends on smoking cessation who now have only nicotine to fight instead of hundreds of probable bad agents.
Personally I think the only way to lose this debate in the long run is by fighting on the wrong fronts using the wrong tactics. And I think, in that light, looking at how you would have handled the Q-board differently before moving on to other greener pastures would be a worthwhile endeavor. Look at what is happening right now... we have fairly innocuous descent and instead of trying to take the opportunity to refine the debate we've suddenly started sounding like Q-board people protective of their own property. Just like Fred's closure note said..... 'you've got ~your~ corner of the Internet over at ECF for ~casual~ discussions'......
Invite and embrace the descent as an opportunity to refine the message. You've got yet another data point by a live human being willing to discuss what they went through. You think with the few hundred millions smokers out there today you won't see this same story again? Maybe a few hundred thousand more times? They're grumpy, they have bad memories, maybe their tact is a bit off. That's all OK, we've all been there.
(QUICK! Somebody kick the soap box out from under me!)
To close this*THUNK THUD*
OK OK...... that's enough food for thought from me. -Magnus