In a recent thread, somewhere or other, Eli forgets, Roger Pielke Jr. asked Eli to comment on his policy studies. Now true, Ethon would like a bite, but we are ever so earnest here at Rabett Run and the policy person formerly known as #14 deserves an answer, although the Rabett respectfully declines the opportunity of doing it at Roger's new place. Dad Rabett taught Eli the need to control the message. From the Ragged Edge of Reality we have a pretty good description of where RPJ is coming from: There is no need for scientists to get involved in policy cause he will handle it all.
Eli has remarked on the immaturity of Roger's policy framework before, but to be fair, he went and read the "Honest Broker". It is a piece of incredibly immature twaddle, if this is policy studies then policy studies got big problems. To repeat myself (which Eli does very well), Roger's naive injection (let's be nice) of the "honest broker" into climate science policy studies has pushed discussion into a fruitless direction. As with many such things, reality shows how hollow this is. IEHO looking at what brokers do in the real world better illuminates the issue.
Brokers do not expand the scope of choices available to clients, they narrow them. Brokers make markets. Brokers make a living by matching buyers to sellers and taking a commission (You thought they do it for free? What carrot wagon you fall off of bunny?). Ethical brokers will go out on the market seeking product suited to clients and will seek clients suited to products available to them. Ethical brokers have mutual obligations to sellers and buyers, to qualify the buyers and vet the sellers, not to sell every piece of nuclear waste to every rube with a cell phone.
Good brokers know what is available for purchase and what their buyer's needs are. They select the best matches (with allowance for the front and back end fees they are going to collect). The broker you want often tells the client NO, don't do that. Where the client insists on committing financial suicide the ethical broker is obligated to tell the buyer to take the business elsewhere. Contrast this with Roger's model of how the "honest broker" gives advice on how to find food
. . you might instead provide your visitor with information on all restaurants in the city, basic information on each (cost, menu, etc.) and let the visitor face the challenge of reducing the scope of choice (i.e., making a decision). Such "honest brokering" could also be strong (e.g., a comprehensive guide to all restaurants in the city) or weak (e.g., a guide to all those within a 5 minutes walk). The defining characteristic of the honest broker is an effort to expand (or at least clarify) the scope of choice for decision making.Notice that the "honest broker" is not allowed to say that the food sucks, or that the place was closed for health violations, lest she become the dreaded "Issue Advocate" Pielke's "honest broker"slams the Yellow Pages down on the counter and leaves.
His argument is that all choices are political/personal by nature and the proper broker's role is to show all products and not advise the client based on technical knowledge and experience. At best this is postmodernism, that power determines reality. Even in the best comments section (Hi Marky!) you can always find someone who denies quantum mechanics, that tobacco smoke causes cancer, or HIV causes AIDS, or that increasing greenhouse gases will lead to increased global warming. Pielke is telling the powerful to do what they want, there is no reality beyond what they create.
Peilke's honest broker is simply a Thabo Mbeki enabler, allowing the former South African President to glom onto far out denialist science fiction on HIV as equal to the best research and expert advice available. Many people died and are dying because of that attitude. Fundamentally Pielke cannot accept that there are experts in anything who might provide educated advice. There is no better illustration of Pielke's nihilism than his description in the "Honest Broker" of the 2003 Soon, Baliunas and Robinson paper that appeared in Climate Research
It is characteristic of the science and politics of the early twenty-first century to see scientists actively engaged in political debates and particularly as related to the environment. For example, when a 2003 paper in the journal Climate Research argued that twentieth century climate variations were unexceptional in millennial perspective advocacy groups opposed to the Kyoto Protocol predictably hailed the research as “sound science”, while advocacy groups in support of the Protocol called the paper “junk science” (Regalado 2003). In this case, more troubling than the “cherry picking” of scientific results by Issue Advocates (scare capitals –ER) is that many scientists’ evaluations of the scientific merit of the Climate Research paper correlated perfectly with their public expressions of support for or opposition to the Kyoto Protocol on climate changeThere is no attempt to come to grips with whether the paper was a contribution to knowledge or a provocation (Hint), and no discussion of how the most expert editors resigned when that piece of trash was forced into the journal. Roger's assumption is that the science follows the policy, not the policy view the science.
Roger is not shy about evaluating claims by the likes of James Hansen, Kevin Trenberth or the Munich Re folk, and always finding fault with them, but he is curiously shy about doing the same for Pat Michaels, S. Fred Singer and that ilk which is a marker of what he is really about. There is no better illustration of Pielke's track record of dishonesty than his attempt to tear Evan Mills down. Mills, of course, thinks that there is evidence that cyclone damage is increasing, something that Roger Pielke Jr. disagrees with.
Since his orientation is towards serving power (a well known and excellent career track for political scientists), the only thing that counts is power and appearance. In a comment at Cruel Mistress, Roger unmasks himself. Ben Hale discusses the morality of cruise ships stopping at a guarded enclave in Hati immediately after the earthquake. Roger, as usual, thinks its all about him and the only thing wrong would be getting caught in public.
There are a lot of other choices that we all make that are equally insensitive, but the don’t look bad because no one sees them. So perhaps pointing to Royal Caribbean and saying tsk tsk makes us feel a bit better about those other things.He is quite the expert in erasing context. For example, in discussing tobacco he said
In the battle over smoking efforts to deny a link between smoking and health risks seems to have been completely a lost effort.This is consistent with Pielke's effort to frame other issues
...science has a huge role in getting a subject onto the "agenda" of decision making, but after that, its role is very much diminished and subsumed to other factors, such as cultural, social, and political. If this is correct, it would require some deeper understanding about the role of advocacy related to scientific issues and the efficacy of using science as a tool of advocacy.and he continues
This begs the question -- why has anti-smoking advocacy been so successful over time? The throwaway answer that increasing scientific certainly is the key does not seem to jibe with this data.The problem with this whole line of reasoning is that it is built upon a falsehood. The tobacco industry used advertising, public relations campaigns, Potemkin science, litigation, and any other method it could find to maintain revenues. Deaths were collateral damage. This is no secret to anyone who reads the newspapers let alone science journals. The mortality data and the data on tobacco use and its relationship to advertising both pro and con is readily available to anyone who makes the smallest effort to search. The Potemkin science allowed all of the other efforts to go forward, providing a screen against the imperative necessity of eliminating tobacco that were being uncovered by medical research. The tobacco companies were the successful ones, with all the facts against them, they delayed action for decades, but in the postmodern Pielke World, there are no facts. (Except that there has been no measureable increase in tropical cyclone intensity, that Roger reluctantly accepts as a fact)
Eli awaits Roger complaining that his specific policy proposals have not been discussed. True enough. Tomorrow comes.