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There are many hallmarks of a “good” editor—infinite tolerance, good spelling, and knowing when to use “that” v “which” being among the most important. One characteristic that is rarely mentioned, however, is achieving a good balance between having strong personal views (in other words, being biased) while permitting—or even encouraging—contributions representing opposing views. I passed this test previously when we published the powerful dissent by Dorothy Robinson opposing bike helmet legislation. Readers will have little doubt where I stand on this debate, but Robinson's position was well argued and deserved to be aired.
In this issue, I am again put to the test. The lead paper by Girasek (19) shatters my long held cherished conviction that the use of the word “accident” is harmful to our goals. Readers may recall that this topic was debated in the first volume, and although I did not editorialize on it at the time, I repeatedly remind authors of our dislike of the “A” word. Like most injury prevention zealots, I was convinced “accident” usually conveyed the idea that the injury was not preventable.
I still think there is much truth to this, but the paper by Girasek was favorably reviewed and in spite of my opposite leaning bias, I, too, was impressed with the rigor of her work and had no hesitation agreeing it should be published. Her results point strongly to the conclusion that the general public, at least in the US, are more sophisticated in their interpretation of the word “accident” than many of us had assumed. Nevertheless, unless it serves a specific purpose, for example, to distinguish between the injury causing event and the injury itself, I still believe the word should be avoided. As indeed, should “accidents” themselves.
Bottom line? On this score at least, the editor again passes the test. Contributors holding seemingly outrageous ideas on this or other topics are encouraged to submit papers and are assured they will receive a fair review.
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