Episode Summary

On this episode of the Safety of Work podcast, we discuss which questions need to be asked, when trying to constructively resolve an argument about safety theory.

Episode Notes

You may find that this conversation makes us look hypocritical, when discussing how to argue. We just want the best outcomes for all discussions regarding safety. Ultimately, this topic came out of some recent intense arguments in the safety field and we wanted to address how to constructively handle disagreements in person and online.


  • Finding original sources.
  • Figuring out what the original source says.
  • Understanding context.
  • Looking for the overall position of a paper or book.
  • Design vs. behavior.
  • Why new and old ideas aren’t mutually exclusive.
  • The line between sharing and evangelizing.
  • Knowledge and evidence that moves the debate forward.


“Unless an entire field is genuinely pseudoscience, it’s always very, very dangerous to dismiss an entire field.”

“A lot of the time that there is a disagreement with Safety II, it’s basically people saying we shouldn’t be throwing out everything to do with Safety I. What we actually need is some kind of middle-ground between Safety I and Safety II.”

“A lot of the time, when we argue, there’s an implicit assumption that we can only agree with one of the theories, because they’re somehow mutually exclusive.”