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Style of interchanges
Some recent interchanges on the list have suggested that if we want to run
a list in which interesting ideas can be explored without fear of
reprisal, we have to be very careful to treat all postings with respect.
One may not agree with something or with the style in which it is
presented, and still grant people the right to say things in their own
ways. One can find flaws with ideas, and still present these criticisms
in a respectful way.
My model of a scientist and academic is the late J.J. Gibson, whom I had
the privilege of knowing. Jimmy could disagree with your argument
profoundly, all the time with a twinkle in his eye that said he was still
enjoying the conversation and the opportunity to debate with someone who
cared as much as he did about ideas and explanations. He always debated
the ideas themselves while taking pleasure in the other person as a
person. I don't think this hurt him or the success of his ideas in the
forum of science in any way.
The opportunity to hear points of view from many different perspectives
and backgrounds is one of the things that a list like this can offer. It
goes without saying that the contributions of specialists exchanging
information on technical matters is very valuable. At the same time we
should listen to people whose areas of training are different from our
own, because they haven't been trapped in the assumptions that have
created our own specialty, assumptions that can be brought into question
by interesting phenomena that they can contribute whether they be from the
areas of music, speech, medicine, audio engineering, computer science,
communications, or whatever.
Here's hoping that people will continue to participate fully and not have
to be inhibited by fear of criticism.
Sorry to be sounding like an admonishing "papa", but this is something I
feel strongly about.
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