ABSTRACT

DISPUTATIOUSNESS, EMINENCE, AND SANDRA SCARR As the quote at the beginning of this chapter suggests, I side with Platt regarding disputatiousness. If we mean by disputatious “inclined to dispute or wrangle; contentious” (Oxford English Dictionary, 1989), I doubt that many people would disagree with the assertion that Sandra Scarr was, over the course of her career, somewhat disputatious. Interestingly, Simonton (2000) has conrmed Platt’s argument about some great scientists being disputatious, at least with regard to psychologists. In an analysis of the impact of 54 eminent psychologists, he pointed out that they “tend to take extreme positions on the controversies that have characterized the history of psychology” (p. 13). I would venture

to guess that even many of her friends would agree that she has taken extreme positions. I also doubt that many people would disagree with the assertion that Sandra Scarr qualies as an eminent psychologist. She is an ideal example of the eminent psychologists in Simonton’s sample. Unfortunately, Simonton does not tell us whether any members of his sample were “correct” or to what extent they moved us in a positive direction (but see Simonton, 2006). In my opinion Sandra Scarr was largely “correct” in virtually every scientic stance she took. On some issues I believe she was far less disputatious than I think she ought to have been. I try to partially correct that drawback in this chapter. None of the arguments I will put forth are new. Sandra Scarr has made every one of them, generally in much more elegant prose. Nevertheless, as I will demonstrate, her admonitions continue to be ignored, and the result is a much slower theoretical advance in our discipline than necessary.