Seriously, I want you to ask yourself the question. More importantly, when was the last time you admitted it?

I’ll go first – I was wrong to attack Graur over his snark.  I still don’t agree with the way he went about things, and I never will, but as @johnomics has pointed out, I am partial to a bit of snark myself.  My defence is that I limit it to twitter and this blog, and I would never use it in peer review or in peer reviewed articles.  But is that really a good defence?

How about you? When did you last admit you were wrong?

I have a feeling that academic scientific research breeds people who struggle with it, to be honest.  In no other job do people pour their heart and soul into something, only to have it ripped apart by anonymous “experts” who, occasionally, we are not even allowed to engage with.   We are certainly not allowed to know their identity, as they snipe from behind a wall, free to say whatever they please with no threat of sanction.

OK, maybe the music and film industry is similar – and we all know what kind of egos they breed 😉

Unless we are extremely lucky/good, after months of work, our papers and grants are subject to close scrutiny and severe criticism.  This immediately puts us on the defensive, and we engage in a lengthy discussion.  We defend our work, and if we defend something, we must believe in it, right?  These beliefs can be pretty toxic, because inevitably some of the criticism will be valid.  Not everything we have said will be right, but we are forced into the position where we defend it as if it was.

When the grant gets funded, or the work published, we feel vindicated – it turns out we were right all along, doesn’t it?

Now imagine you’ve been doing this for 30 years, you sit on grant panels and you edit journals, your opinion is sought often to peer review articles of the highest importance.  People hang on your every word.  Journals seek you out to provide opinion pieces and reviews. You’ve written books, and 100s of scientific articles.

When was the last time the person above admitted they were wrong?

Im sure you take my point.  Although you may disagree with it because, of course – I could be wrong 🙂