Adversarial collaboration

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In science, adversarial collaboration is a term used when two or more scientists with opposing views work together. This can take the form of a scientific experiment conducted by two groups of experimenters with competing hypotheses, with the aim of constructing and implementing an experimental design in a way that satisfies both groups that there are no obvious biases or weaknesses in the experimental design.[1] Adversarial collaboration can involve a neutral moderator[2] and lead to a co-designed experiment and joint publishing of findings in order to resolve differences.[3]

Adversarial collaboration has been recommended by Daniel Kahneman[4] and others as a way of reducing the distorting impact of cognitive-motivational biases on human reasoning[5] and resolving contentious issues in fringe science.[6] It has also been recommended as a potential solution for improving academic commentaries.[7]

Philip Tetlock and Gregory Mitchell have discussed it in various articles. They argue:

Adversarial collaboration is most feasible when least needed: when the clashing camps have advanced testable theories, subscribe to common canons for testing those theories, and disagreements are robust but respectful. And adversarial collaboration is least feasible when most needed: when the scientific community lacks clear criteria for falsifying points of view, disagrees on key methodological issues, relies on second- or third-best substitute methods for testing causality, and is fractured into opposing camps that engage in ad hominem posturing and that have intimate ties to political actors who see any concession as weakness. Tetlock (2006) calls the former community as "epistemic Heaven" the latter "epistemic hell" and maintains [that] we should expect the greatest expected returns in the "murky middle" in which theory-testing conditions are less than ideal but not yet hopeless.[8]


  1. ^ Arts and Sciences, Penn. "Adversarial Collaboration Project". Adversarial Collaboration Project. Archived from the original on 2021-09-15. Retrieved 7 Jan 2022.
  2. ^ Latham, Gary P.; Erez, Miriam; Locke, Edwin A. (1988). "Resolving scientific disputes by the joint design of crucial experiments by the antagonists: Application to the Erez–Latham dispute regarding participation in goal setting". Journal of Applied Psychology. 73 (4): 753–772. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.73.4.753. ISSN 1939-1854.
  3. ^ Locke, Edwin A.; Latham, Gary P.; Erez, Miriam (1988). "The Determinants of Goal Commitment". The Academy of Management Review. 13 (1): 23. doi:10.2307/258352. JSTOR 258352.
  4. ^ Kahneman, Daniel; Klein, Gary. Conditions for intuitive expertise: A failure to disagree. American Psychologist, Vol 64(6), Sep 2009, 515-526. doi: 10.1037/a0016755
  5. ^ Clark, C. J.; Tetlock, P. E. (2022). Adversarial collaboration The next science reform. New York: New York: Springer. pp. 2–3.
  6. ^ Wagenmakers, E.-J., Wetzels, R., Borsboom, D., & van der Maas, H. L. J. (2010). Why psychologists must change the way they analyze their data: The case of psi. Archived 2011-01-20 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Heyman, Tom; Moors, Pieter; Rabagliati, Hugh (2020). "The benefits of adversarial collaboration for commentaries". Nature Human Behaviour. 4 (12): 1217. doi:10.1038/s41562-020-00978-6. hdl:1887/3188822. ISSN 2397-3374. PMID 33106628. S2CID 225083325.
  8. ^ Tetlock, Philip & Gregory Mitchell. 2009. "Implicit Bias and Accountability Systems: What Must Organizations Do to Prevent Discrimination?" Research in Organizational Behavior 29:3-38. Earlier version at [1]

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