In defence of discourse

I love a discussion. Even if it requires a debate. Particularly one where I find my perspectives opposed. I am drawn towards people who are operating at levels beyond my ability. Much as I was once in sports, or in strategic games like chess. It is only by being beaten that I feel most tested, improved, or simply reformed. Unlike in sport however, my fifty-year-old brain may yet have better days to unfold.

A new place to learn – Heterodox

Yesterday, I was therefore thrilled to learn that my application to join Heterodox Academy (hxa) has been approved. This is an affiliation of 5,400 academically inclined professionals, primarily in the US but also represented by fellow members in 65 countries. The affiliation of members range from professors and post doctorate researchers, to postgraduate and undergraduate students. Most are from disciplines of the social sciences – psychology, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, history, economics and politics. All subjects I follow with interacting interest.

Heterodox refers to a non-conforming or unorthodox ways or beliefs. Per hxa’s website, all members are “committed to enhancing the quality of research and education by promoting open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement in institutions of higher learning”. In this regard, one is expected to support robust discussion and critical examination of truth. This appeals to me. It is an ideal that certainly seems unorthodox when all around we engage as polarised and divided interlocuters, caring only to take a debate towards our corner. This affiliation believes in seeking out the better truth, by supporting the quality of the discourse not the skill in debate.

The hxa-way

I now make a declaration. One that I am to repeat regularly.

“I support open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement in research and education.”

The Heterodox Academy pledge

At its core, this is the preservation of constructive production and dissemination of knowledge, The hxa-way holds to these simple ideals:

  • providing evidence based argument
  • seeking out the strongest opposing position
  • retaining a humility, and a willingness to be wrong
  • being constructive, rather than simply seeking to win
  • standing as oneself, not as an institutional representative

I like to think I live to these ideals. Whether in lively debate on LinkedIn, entering into professional discussion with clients, or writing for myself.

Work in progress – hubris beware

I am however in a state of transition as I seek to communicate more academically but plainly. Twice this week I have been reminded of the difficulty faced. Firstly, I was asked by a client to remove the McKinsey type language from my analysis. Secondly, an examiner marked a “densely packed” essay down to 65% for falling short in essay form, “please write grammatically correct sentences…this is not twitter.” [And I be like, WTF? I know, right!].

My journey continues. As do my attempts to bridge industry interest and applied academic precision.

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here: