It is a fraught topic of broad and not merely academic interest. Strong and hurt feelings abound. You have a view you work to hone and carefully articulate. Good and earnest people resist your view and argue against it. They may even suggest that it is a view unworthy of you. You remain unconvinced and argue back but manage to persuade few who did not start out on your side. You feel the polite condemnation of good and thoughtful people, yet you continue to think you are right. Perhaps you are even surprised people disagree with you on this topic. You try to be mindful of whose interests are primarily at stake and whose first-personal experience lends their views more authority in such contexts. You try to avoid defensively feeling like just because you have taken a public stand you cannot change your mind. You remind yourself you are not making a one-sided lawyerly case for a position but trying to reach a balanced overall assessment. You try to not let the mere professional status of those who argue with or against you unduly influence your thinking. Others are joining your side but, or so it seems to you, less cautiously. The rhetoric and tone escalate around you. It seems the distinctions you were at pains to clarify are sometimes lost in some of the complaints about your view. You become agitated and start thinking “I can’t let this take over my day and this is getting unpleasant.”
Where do you go from there?
Many, I suspect, shut down in such contexts. That seems a not unreasonable response—one could think of it as a cooling off period to reflect on the debate in a less agitated and defensive state. But you notice that that leaves the field disproportionately to those who revel in, rather than shrink from, such contexts, those who are the true-believers in their position rather than those who appreciate the difficulties for their position, and those who have little respect for those they are arguing against. That can’t be good, you think to yourself. And that too seems right.6