i know a thing or two about pain. just the other day, i was enjoying* a giants game when a foul ball landed on my knee. (i failed to catch the ball. this guy (above) ended up with it. i do, however, still have the bruise. i would post a picture of that but i don't do selfies.) some things in life just hurt. expecting them not to hurt is like expecting kale to taste good.
self-correction is one of those things. it is never going to be pleasant. whether it is in the domain of science or in the personal domain, self-improvement sucks. if we say that we should only self-correct if we can do it in a way that feels good for everyone, then we are giving up on the idea of self-correction. if we are that delicate, we are doomed.
there are more and less painful ways of correcting ourselves and each other. there are more and less strident ways to talk about replication. i am all for less stridence** and more humility. i think this is very important.
however, i don't think we can do self-correction without anyone's feelings getting hurt. i don't think it's going to feel good even if we all act as polite, humble, and professional as we absolutely ought to. as a field, we have to decide whether we can accept some amount of pain, whether we are willing to pay some price for the benefits of self-correction.
in the comments section of a recent chronicle of higher education piece on repligate, someone going by the name of bob sternberg*** wrote "we need replication but we do not need the acrimony that is going with it." i agree that we don't need some of the more personal and emotional discourse. but i think some amount of friction is unavoidable if we are going to put ourselves to the test. ideally, we will get to the point where the disagreement is all in good fun, and the pain is fleeting, and leaves fewer bruises. like a wiffle ball to the knee, perhaps. but in the meantime, i think we need to walk that very delicate line between being jerks and avoiding challenging each other altogether. and i think most of the time we are doing that quite well.
* it is possible that i was wrong and baseball is actually a real sport. just not as depicted on television.
** i'm not sure this is actually a word. it is, however, the name of my new fragrance.
*** i have no reason to think it was not actually bob sternberg but you never know. someone could be impersonating bob sternberg to make completely innocuous comments on the chronicle of higher ed website. crazier things have happened.****
**** actually, that might be crazier than anything that has happened ever.