Adversarial Collaboration Project

The Adversarial Collaboration Project supports scholars with clashing theoretical-ideological views to engage in best practices for resolving scientific disputes. There are many ongoing debates in the social and behavioral sciences that influence policy and organizational decision-making in which both sides have become entrenched, research findings have become politicized, and scientific progress has come to a halt. We seek to stimulate a culture shift among social and behavioral scientists whose work touches on polarizing topics with policy significance by encouraging disagreeing scholars to work together to make scientific progress. 

As originally conceived by Economics Nobel Prize Laureate, Daniel Kahneman, adversarial collaborations call on scholars to: (1) make good faith efforts to articulate each other’s positions (so that each side feels fairly characterized, not caricatured); (2) work together to design methods that both sides agree constitute a fair test and that they agree, ex ante, have the potential to change their minds; (3) jointly publish the results, regardless of “who wins, loses or draws” on which topics. Each collaborator serves as a check on their adversary to confirm that the hypotheses are falsifiable, the scientific tests are fair, and the interpretations accurately characterize the findings. Because adversarial collaborations restrict scholars’ abilities to rig methods in favor of their own hypothesis and to dismiss unexpected results, adversarial collaborations are likely to advance debates faster and generate more reliable knowledge than traditional approaches.

Through this initiative, we hope to discover best practices for participating in adversarial collaborations and to normalize such practices in order to improve the accuracy and efficiency of the social sciences and its reputation among policy makers and the public.