I’ve read both Austin’s and Harold’s posts, and all of your comments with great interest. As I’ve said to Austin in email, I’m a little disappointed that when suggesting voices in HSR who could function as a Paul Krugman, many of you have offered people who (1) aren’t health services researchers and (2) don’t seem committed to that volume of writing.
Regardless, the question that Austin asked (or at lease the one I care about) has to do with one thing and one thing only. When engaging in debate, there are times I’ve become frustrated when I start to believe that someone I’m arguing with is ignoring facts or arguments that run counter to his position. Sometimes, I have felt that someone I’m arguing with is saying things he doesn’t believe for partisan purposes. And, sometimes, I have felt like someone I’m arguing with is making wildly inconsistent arguments depending on who has made the proposal he is discussing.
Even when I think these things, however, I hold my tongue. I respond to the best in people (or at least I try my darndest), even when I suspect their motives are less than pure.
Paul Krugman would not. I think he would even tell me that I’m not doing my job when I hold my tongue. And, if I’m being completely honest, I sometimes feel that way, too.
But I’m not in Paul Krugman’s position. I don’t carry his weight, and I’m nowhere near as secure in my place in the blogosphere. Moreover, I don’t want to get into the he said/she said debates that always follow ad hominem attacks. I’ve always felt that my place should be that of a non-partisan, if not unbiased, contributor. I focus on what people say, and not the people themselves.
That’s where I plan to stay. My devotion to data, evidence, and well-constructed arguments is far stronger than any affiliation I feel to any group. But as I’ve said, and Paul said, this is not a game. Some people treat it like it is. I still struggle with how to respond to that.