Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1999

Abstract

I believe that research should be refuted by research. More and more of our scarce journal space is being taken up by attacks, rebuttals, and rebuttals to the rebuttals, often ending with a whimper of recognition that the adversaries were not so very far apart to begin with, and that the only way (if possible) to resolve the disagreement is through empirical research. Communication of scientific disagreement does not require a published article. Grant proposals and manuscripts submitted to refereed journals like this one are sent out to reviewers, who provide written evaluations that are communicated to the author. Papers presented at conferences are evaluated and often criticized by discussants and members of the audience. The best strategy, I think, is direct communication between the critic and the author. Unlike the published criticism, this method allows both critic and author to reach a clear understanding of each other's position, to identify specific topics of agreement and disagreement, and perhaps even to arrive at possible resolutions through the normal give and take of scientific dialogue. The best a published criticism can do is to provide an opportunity for back-to-back monologues, surely a far less effective means of communication.


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