Rodney Stark on a Major Academic Pitfall

Rodney Stark writes of an unfortunate side-effect of academic incentives in his book Discovering God: The Origins of the Great Religions and the Evolution of Belief. Although his specific context is New Testament scholarship, the incentives he points to operate in all areas of academia:

In order to enjoy academic success one must innovate; novelty at almost any cost is the key to a big reputation. This rule holds across the board and has often inflicted remarkably foolish new approaches on many fields. (pp. 294-295.)

In my experience, the only truly effective defenses against the danger Rodney points to are to have research disciplined by either abundant data or by rigorous logic like that used in mathematics.