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Evaluating Heterodox Theories

Evan Fales and Barry Markovsky
Social Forces
Vol. 76, No. 2 (Dec., 1997), pp. 511-525
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/2580722
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2580722
Page Count: 15
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Evaluating Heterodox Theories
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Abstract

Active and heterogeneous disciplines constantly spawn new theories and theoretical variants. By definition, each such offering is heterodox to the degree that its veracity would diminish accepted theories. Most often heterodox theories are dismissed out of hand for nonrational reasons, such that they just seem too bizarre. Most of the time, too, rational analysis supports such rejection. Of course, many important theories in science once seemed bizarre but later were accepted as evidence accumulated for them and against received views. But the lag between a premature rejection and ultimate acceptance is an inefficiency built into the theory evaluation process. Is there a way to reduce this inefficiency? Through examining a heterodox sociological exemplar, we discuss the standards to which such theories should be held in order to deserve (1) hearings in their relevant disciplines, (2) serious attention, and (3) assignment of a high likelihood of being true.

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