Disagreeing With Colleagues

There are lots of things that people write about that I strongly disagree with.  Mostly I keep my mouth shut because my comments would amount to:

A. Preaching to the choir
B. Supporting the phrase "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still" (I’m not sure who to attribute this saying to — I’ve seen a few different authors named).  My interpretation of this phrase is that you can’t convince someone of something they don’t want to be convinced of.

But I don’t feel that way with most of my colleagues — and I certainly don’t feel that way about any of my fellow bloggers.  We feel, and have always felt (as far as I know) that it’s important for us to disagree openly on things because only through open discussion can we arrive at the truth.  I also think that it’s important that you get to see our disagreements. 

Too often the vision that I think most people have of academic discussions is of a bunch of jerky professor types sitting around a table in a pretty university conference room nodding to each other that, yes, yes, all academics agree and we must now force the public to believe what we do.  If I’m being honest (and I try….) I sometimes feel the same way about topics like global warming.  Sure, many academics agree that global warming has been brought on by humans, but it’s far from unanimous and you need to listen to all of the voices, not just the loudest ones, to get the whole story.  Actually, there are relatively few topics that "all academics" agree on.

I am extremely proud of this website because it allows everyone to see the discussions that professional horticulturists have about various topics.  Sure, often we agree, but sometimes we don’t.  When we don’t agree we hash it out and admit when there isn’t research supporting our ideas.  And we also talk about the research we conduct which is meant to give us answers — and reduce disagreements — such as Bert’s recent post requesting input on which experiment would be most valuable.  All of his proposed experiments would provide answers to questions that we regularly discuss.

Which brings us to Linda’s most recent post.  You can mark me down as being highly skeptical of washing the roots of B&B trees prior to planting.  Linda obviously believes otherwise.  We both have our reasons, and we both agree that more research needs to be conducted.  Until it’s conducted we’ll just agree to disagree and get along with each other fine.  And it’s a nice feeling to work in that kind of environment (Happy post this week — Next week I’m planning on some serious anger!).   

7 thoughts on “Disagreeing With Colleagues”

  1. I’m skeptical of any site/blog that claims to have all of the answers nailed down anyway. The important thing is to keep asking questions, looking for answers – and then test those answers.

  2. It makes sense that y’all are trying to get the best information out to us, even while sometimes disagreeing. A deep understanding of the importance of plants will always be vital to our future.

  3. One thing I dislike about the internet is the ability here to be a complete jerk anonymously
    . This is where blogs and forums sometimes get nasty- where someone posts only a first name (somehow, usually a masculine one) and goes ballistic just because they disagree with something they’ve read. Sometimes it is hard not to be irritated when someone disagrees with a statement you’ve posted because it can feel like an insult to your intelligence at first reaction, so I can understand a defensive and even rude reaction in such cases (probably because I’ve occasionally been guilty of this infraction myself). But the rage to which I speak is triggered only by statements that contradict what the person believes, not what he’s submitted. That level of defensiveness must be a symptom of deep seated unhappiness.

  4. It is quite possible to disagree without being disagreeable. It’s a lesson children should be taught early and often. It’s makes for much better behaved adults. Sadly, it’s rarely in the curriculum any more.

  5. I had the benefit of rigorous minded peers in my college days back in 80’s…really smart kids I was around – way smarter than me. My BF went to Emory on full ride via academic scholarship. Me – I was poking along at a local state university. But I wanted to part of the conversation so I learned critical thinking, a dialogue of exploration – and yes, that anti-southern girl thing that I wasn’t raised with: disagreeing. Those were great years for me. I only hope I still have it at 50!

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