In praise of negativity

by Henry Farrell on July 24, 2020

Andrew Gelman has a post on the benefits of negative criticism, where he talks about the careful methodological demolitions he has done of others’ research that he has found to be slipshod.

if you want to go against the grain you have to work harder to convince people. My point is that this is the exact opposite of Cowen’s claim that following his advice “Avoid criticizing other public intellectuals. In fact, avoid the negative as much as possible” will force you to keep on thinking harder.

I’m in favor of a strong culture of criticism, but for a quite different reason: because serious criticism is probably the most valuable contribution we can make to the cognitive division of labour. There’s a possibly mistaken understanding of a truly excellent social science book behind this argument. [click to continue…]