pageok
pageok
pageok
Did AEI Seek to Buy Climate Scientists?

The blogosphere is abuzz about this breathless Guardian story alleging that the American Enterprise Institute is offering cash payments to scientists who will "undermine" the new report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). (See, e.g., here, here, and here.) Some suggest this is a scandalous example of "buying science." I've obtained copies of the letters in question and an internal memo circulated to AEI staff by AEI President Christopher DeMuth, and it seems to me there is less here than the Guardian and others might suggest.

Here is the text of the letter described in the Guardian report. It was sent by Steven Hayward and Kenneth Green of AEI in July 2006 to Professor Steve Schroeder of Texas A&M, a climate scientist who has been critical of climate models in the past.

Dear Prof. Schroeder:

The American Enterprise Institute is launching a major project to produce a review and policy critique of the forthcoming Fourth Assessment Report (FAR) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), due for release in the spring of 2007. We are looking to commission a series of review essays from a broad panel of experts to be published concurrent with the release of the FAR, and we want to invite you to be one of the authors.

The purpose of this project is to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the IPCC process, especially as it bears on potential policy responses to climate change. As with any large-scale "consensus" process, the IPCC is susceptible to self-selection bias in its personnel, resistant to reasonable criticism and dissent, and prone to summary conclusions that are poorly supported by the analytical work of the complete Working Group reports. An independent review of the FAR will advance public deliberation about the extent of potential future climate change and clarify the basis for various policy strategies. Because advance drafts of the FAR are available for outside review (the report of Working Group I is already out; Working Groups II and III will be released for review shortly), a concurrent review of the FAR is feasible for the first time.

From our earlier discussions of climate modeling (with both yourself and Prof. North), I developed considerable respect for the integrity with which your lab approaches the characterization of climate modeling data. We are hoping to sponsor a paper by you and Prof. North that thoughtfully explores the limitations of climate model outputs as they pertain to the development of climate policy (as opposed to the utility of climate models in more theoretical climate research). In particular, we are looking for an author who can write a well-supported but accessible discussion of which elements of climate modeling have demonstrated predictive value that might make them policy-relevant and which elements of climate modeling have less levels of predictive utility, and hence, less utility in developing climate policy. If you are interested in the idea, or have thoughts about who else might be interested, please give Ken Green a call at 202-XXX-XXXX at your convenience.

If you and Prof. North are agreeable to being authors, AEI will offer an honoraria of $10,000. The essay should be in the range of 7,500 to 10,000 words, though it can be longer. The deadline for a complete draft will be December 15, 2007. We intend to hold a series of small conferences and seminars in Washington and elsewhere to coincide with the release of both the FAR and our assessment in the spring or summer of 2007, for which we can provide travel expenses and additional honoraria if you are able to participate.

Please feel free to contact us with questions and thoughts on this invitation.

Cordially,

Steven F. Hayward, Ph.D, Resident Scholar Kenneth Green, Ph.D, Visiting Scholar

In these letters AEI was certainly seeking out prominent analysts willing to participate in a critical examination of the IPCC report, but I don't think the letter suggests AEI wanted Professor Schroeder or anyone else to tailor their views to AEI's agenda. Rather it looks to me like an effort to encourage those who have been critical of climate projections in the past to provide a detailed assessment of the new IPCC report. A second letter was sent out earlier this year to a handful of scientists and economists and others seeking papers on climate change science and policy more broadly.

AEI President Christopher DeMuth took great exception to the Guardian story, and circulated the following memo to AEI staff.

February 2, 2007

NOTE FOR AEI SCHOLARS, FELLOWS, AND STAFF

Many of us have received telephone calls and emails prompted by a shoddy article on the front page of today's Guardian, the British newspaper, headlined "Scientists offered cash to dispute climate study" (posted at http://environment.guardian.co.uk/climatechange/story/0,,2004397,00.html#article_continue).

The article uses several garden-variety journalistic tricks to create the impression of a story where none exists. Thus, AEI is described as a "lobby group" (we are a research group that does no lobbying and takes no institutional positions on policy issues); ExxonMobil's donations to AEI are either bulked up by adding donations over many years, or simply made up (the firm's annual AEI support is generous and valued but is a fraction of the amount reported—no corporation accounts for more than 1 percent of our annual budget); and AEI is characterized as the Bush administration's "intellectual Cosa Nostra" and "White House surrogates" (AEI scholars criticize or praise Bush administration policies—every day, on the merits). All of this could have been gleaned from a brief visit to the AEI website.

But the article's specific charge (announced in the headline) is a very serious one. Although most of you will appreciate the truth on your own, I thought it would be useful to provide a few details.

First, AEI has published a large volume of books and papers on climate change issues over the past decade and has held numerous conferences on the subject. A wide range of views on the scientific and policy issues have been presented in these publications and conferences. All of them are posted on our website. It would be easy to find policy arguments in our publications and conferences that people at ExxonMobil (or other corporations that support AEI) disagree with—as well as those they agree with and, I hope, some they hadn't thought of until we presented them. Our latest book on the subject, Lee Lane's Strategic Options for Bush Administration Climate Policy, advocates a carbon tax, which I'm pretty sure ExxonMobil opposes (the book also dares to criticize some of the Bush administration's climate-change policies!).

Second, attempting to disentangle science from politics on the question of climate change causation, and to fashion policies that take account of the uncertainties concerning causation, are longstanding AEI interests. Several recent issues of our "Environmental Policy Outlook" address these issues, as does Ken Green's "Q & A" article in the November-December issue of The American. The new research project that Ken and Steve Hayward have been organizing is a continuation of these interests. I am attaching the two letters that Steve and Ken have sent out to climate change scientists and policy experts (the first one emphasizing the scientific and climate-modeling issues addressed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; the second, more recent one covering broader policy issues as well)—and invite you to read them and compare them with the characterization in the Guardian article. The first letter, sent last summer to Professor Steve Schroeder of Texas A&M (and also to his colleague Gerald North), is the one quoted by the Guardian. Ken and Steve canvassed scholars with a range of views on the scientific and policy issues, with an eye to the intrinsic quality and interest of their work rather than to whether partisans might characterize them as climate change "skeptics" or "advocates." They certainly did not avoid those with a favorable view of the IPCC reports—such as Professor Schroeder himself.

Third, what the Guardian essentially characterizes as a bribe is the conventional practice of AEI—and Brookings, Harvard, and the University of Manchester—to pay individuals at other research institutions for commissioned work, and to cover their travel expenses when they come to the sponsoring institution to present their papers. The levels of authors' honoraria vary from case to case, but a $10,000 fee for a research project involving the review of a large amount of dense scientific material, and the synthesis of that material into an original, footnoted and rigorous article is hardly exorbitant or unusual; many academics would call it modest.

We should all be aware that political attacks such as the Guardian's are more than sloppy or sensation-seeking journalism: they are efforts to throttle debate, and therefore aim at the heart of AEI's purposes and methods. The successive IPCC climate change reports contain a wealth of valuable information, but there has been a longstanding effort to characterize them as representing more of a "scientific consensus" than they probably are, and to gloss over uncertainties and disagreements within the IPCC documents themselves. Consensus plays an important role in science and scientific progress, but so does disputation—reasoned argument is essential to good science, and competition of ideas is essential to scientific progress. AEI is strongly opposed to the politicization of science, just as it is to the politicization of economics and other disciplines. On climate change as on other issues, we try to sort out the areas of genuine consensus from the areas of reasonable debate and uncertainty. Ken and Steve's letter to Professor Schroeder was clear about this: "we are looking for . . . a well-supported but accessible discussion of which elements of climate modeling have demonstrated predictive value that might make them policy-relevant and which elements of climate modeling have less levels of predictive utility, and hence, less utility in developing climate policy." The effort to anathematize opposing views is the standard recourse of the ideologue; one of AEI's highest purposes, here as in many other contentious areas, is to ensure that such efforts do not succeed.

Chris DeMuth

If there were evidence that AEI was trying to get individual scientists to change their tune in return for large honoraria, there would undoubtedly be a story here. But there is no evidence this occurred. The general views of Professors Schroeder and North are well knowm to those who work in this area, and were unlikely to be swayed by ths offer (and they were not). More broadly, just as there may be financial incentives to write analyses desired by corporate funders, there are also financial incentives to tailor research projects and findings to increase the likelihood of receiving government grants. This is why I believe scientific studies should be analyzed on their merits, not the source of funding.

In the end, some may wish AEI was not sponsoring critical research and analysis of the IPCC report and current climate policy proposals, but it's hardly a scandal that they do.

UPDATE: AEI's David Frum chimes in here. Frum finds the Guardian story and the charges it has spawned to be absurd. Interestingly enough, Frum also supports the adoption of a carbon tax to address the threat of climate change.

Some folks have pointed me to this item on TNR's "The Plank" by Bradford Plummer. I don't find it any more compelling than the Guardian story, and the suggestion that there should be no criticism of the IPCC report because "any scientists out there who had legitimate complaints about the report . . .could have worked with the IPCC and registered their objections during the drafting process" is positively silly. Set aside the growing critique that the new IPCC report is not alarmist enough, as I discussed here, the Summary for Policymakers released last week is ultimately revised and approved by participating governments, not the hundreds of scientists who participate in the development of the underlying report. The actual IPCC report itself is not immune from critique either. As a "consensus" document that is based upon research conducted prior to a set date, it cannot hope to resolve all of the continuing debates about various aspects of climate science. Judgments are made during the drafting process to accomodate differing views. Further, it presents various scenarios with potentially different implications for public policy. Sincere efforts to distill, analyze, and critique the report, and explain why policy decisions should rely on certain findings more than others, are helpful to the policy development process. This is true whether such efforts are sponsored by AEI, the Pew Foundation, or Environmental Defense.

Steve Hayward (mail):
As one of the parties in this story, I'll have more to say about this in due course, but for the moment I should like to suggest that this was a planted story. It seems strange that a letter to an academic in Texas finds it way to a journalist in London. I was first called by Bill Blakemore of ABC News about this letter to Schroeder back in November. After three long conversations, between which it seemed as though he had been in touch with a third party from whom he got the letter (Fenton Communications? It looks like their M.O.)and who supplied him with more questions for me, he ended up deciding this was a non-story. (He also thought it didn't fit the story line that AEI had just published a book advocating a carbon tax.) So finally they found the Guardian.
2.3.2007 5:49pm
Loki13 (mail):
Well, when I see AEI, 'credibility' the word that springs to mine. While the Guardian's news account was certainly over the top, these are the only things I could glean:

1. There was an IPCC report. This has, well, some indication of global warming.

2. The AEI, which may have some biases, is offering a cash reward for people to, *ahem* review the report.

What is the reasonable inference that can be drawn?
2.3.2007 5:50pm
Aaron Bergman (mail):
Ten grand is a "modest" fee for writing a paper?!? Damn. I sure chose the wrong field....
2.3.2007 5:52pm
Loki13 (mail):
long day... 'credibility is the word that springs to mind... taking a nap now before the pro- and anti- global warmers get their teeth in this thread.

*sigh*
2.3.2007 5:52pm
Tek Jansen:
I think you are overstating the case against the article by suggesting the article states that AEI is buying science. The article doesn't say that. I believe you are correct in criticizing the blogs that react to the article in this way. But that's not a criticism of the article itself, and there's no reason for you to call it "breathless", whatever that is supposed to mean. Bradford Plummer got this story exactly correct, and you missed the point.

As an aside, there are constant criticisms from folks like Patrick Michaels that climate research is biased because of funding. That criticism is essentially the same as the criticism levelled by the blogs you refute, and is silly. I encourage you to slap both sides when that argument is made.
2.3.2007 5:56pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Loki13: What is the reasonable inference that can be drawn?

*Ahem,* nothing.
2.3.2007 5:59pm
Ted Frank (www):
"I think you are overstating the case against the article by suggesting the article states that AEI is buying science. "

The first line of the article is "Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today."

As DeMuth documents, that's wrong or misleading on at least three different levels. The left-wing blogosphere (and two different people who emailed me) is certainly taking it as an allegation that AEI is trying to buy science.
2.3.2007 6:20pm
Tek Jansen:
Ted:

Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today.

DeMuth admits that they offered honoraria, up to $10,000, to fund research and the publishing of research that seeks to undermine the IPCC. That's exactly what the Guardian says. DeMuth is right to refute blogs who call this a bribe, but that first line just states the same thing that DeMuth states.
2.3.2007 6:32pm
Thom Little (mail):
Say what you will, but offering money of any amount to people who will be put forward as "scientists" - and most especially "scientists" with whom you know beforehand to be supportive of your view...

How can you write this?
2.3.2007 6:36pm
CaDan (mail):
If this had not come to light, would AEI ever have told the readers of its reports about what it paid for those reports?
2.3.2007 6:42pm
dearieme:
Bloody disgraceful: "an honoraria" indeed.
2.3.2007 6:48pm
r78:
Is poster Ted Frank the same Ted Frank employed by the AEI? Isn't it customary to disclose that sort of thing?
2.3.2007 6:56pm
r78:

The purpose of this project is to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the IPCC process,

It's interesting that the solicitation letter is phrased this way.

Does anyone know a) how many letters were sent, b) how many scientists accepted the solicitation and c) how many of those highlighted the "strengths" of the IPCC process?

I am curious if a paper that said the IPCC process and conclusions were - in short - spot on would be or was funded by AEI.
2.3.2007 7:00pm
cirby (mail):
Say what you will, but offering money of any amount to people who will be put forward as "scientists" - and most especially "scientists" with whom you know beforehand to be supportive of your view...

How can you write this?


Well, aside from the fact that the scientists who were offered the grant/honoraria were not at all what you just claimed?

If we're tossing stones at people who offer money to people to do research that only supports a given premise, then about 90% of pro-anthopogenic warming papers would be buried in pebbles...

For those of you who are complaining about "buying" of science, you need to learn how science is paid for in the first place. Most big-name scientific conferences and meetings hand out honoraria checks like candy, in amounts ranging up to the ludicrous for very little work. This case is different in that it would involve weeks of actual research, along with some travel, by someone who's pretty high up in their field.

Meeting planners pay higher amounts for plain old political speakers (find out how much Al Gore makes for one appearance, just to repeat what is available on his DVD for $20).
2.3.2007 7:01pm
Aaron Bergman (mail):
Most big-name scientific conferences and meetings hand out honoraria checks like candy

Which fields are these? If you're referring to things drug companies do, that's not going to help your cause by a long shot.

And, if it's in the physical sciences, I want to know how I can get some of this cash.
2.3.2007 7:06pm
Elliot Reed:
This does seem to be a bit less of a scandal than I'd originally heard about. Anything sponsored by AEI has no credibility to start with. "Research" that comes out of an ideological thinktank, corporation, advocacy group, or political campaign is nonevidence. There is no point in analyzing such "studies" on the merits; they should all go in the circular file.

Incidentally, the case that industry-funded research is more suspect than government-funded research is very strong. There are very few cases where the NSF stops giving somebody grants for finding some result the administration doesn't like; such studies are ubiquitous. How many people get industry funding, find and publish results contrary to that industry's interests, and continue to receive funding?
2.3.2007 7:09pm
godfodder (mail):
For those of you who neglected to even read AEI President Christopher DeMuth's rebuttal to this silly smear, please fix your un-Ritalin'd brains on this passage:


We should all be aware that political attacks such as the Guardian's are more than sloppy or sensation-seeking journalism: they are efforts to throttle debate, and therefore aim at the heart of AEI's purposes and methods. The successive IPCC climate change reports contain a wealth of valuable information, but there has been a longstanding effort to characterize them as representing more of a "scientific consensus" than they probably are, and to gloss over uncertainties and disagreements within the IPCC documents themselves. Consensus plays an important role in science and scientific progress, but so does disputation—reasoned argument is essential to good science, and competition of ideas is essential to scientific progress. AEI is strongly opposed to the politicization of science, just as it is to the politicization of economics and other disciplines. On climate change as on other issues, we try to sort out the areas of genuine consensus from the areas of reasonable debate and uncertainty. Ken and Steve's letter to Professor Schroeder was clear about this: "we are looking for . . . a well-supported but accessible discussion of which elements of climate modeling have demonstrated predictive value that might make them policy-relevant and which elements of climate modeling have less levels of predictive utility, and hence, less utility in developing climate policy." The effort to anathematize opposing views is the standard recourse of the ideologue; one of AEI's highest purposes, here as in many other contentious areas, is to ensure that such efforts do not succeed.


Of course, you are free to dismiss Mr. DeMuth as a damn liar (this being America afterall), but be aware that you do so without the benefit of "facts" (they're the little nuggets of truth that make arguments persuasive).
2.3.2007 7:14pm
Thom (mail):
cirby

Are you denying that Schroeder was picked because AEI has seen his past work?

And I'll toss a stone at any other example - like this - you put forth.
2.3.2007 7:14pm
Thom (mail):
Godfodder

Uh, big points on bluster, but I think the excitement made you forgot to include the "nuggets," or evenf a nugget, in your comment. (And a quote doesn't count as a fact.)
2.3.2007 7:21pm
Loki13 (mail):
You know, godfodder,for a long time the tobacco industry funded studies and interest groups and scientists to promote uncertainty into the debate over a causal link between smoking and cancer (primary, not secondary inhalation of smoke).

They managed to fight off meaningful regulation through decades of rearguard action, attacking the scientific consensus as not being complete, emphasising the need for disputation etc.

Is this the same? Mebbe. Mebbe not. But I'm a little distrustful of ExxonMobil... um... AEI's rhetoric in this case.

Remember... 4 out of 5 doctors prefer Global Warming.
2.3.2007 7:33pm
Loki13 (mail):
So... let' s play 'guess the story'!

1. The IPCC, which is a large group of climate scientists, has released their first report (this is their fourth since 1990) that shows the evidence for global warming is uniequivocal (>90%). In other words, in their very carefully couched language, this is a strong scientific consensus for global warming with a likely anthropgenic cause.

2. The Guardian learns that the AEI is offering a large cash reward and travel (tips too!) for research done on that research. While I would never impugn the motives of the AEI, I don't think the winner will publish a paper that isn't completely lacking in reality dismissive of the IPCC's claims.

3. Some bloggers characterize the Guardian's story about the honorarium as a bribe, and hyperventilate as only blogger can.

So... where's the story. 1, 2, or 3?
2.3.2007 7:54pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
Uh, Thom, etc? Aaron? Have you ever actually been involved in science? Or known any scientists? It seems hard to imagine. Certainly I've known that speakers are offered honoraria since my first year of grad school --- oh, and dearieme, the singular is "honorarium" --- of anything from a few hundred bucks to review a manuscript, to a few hundred and travel expenses for speaking as an invitee, to yes, thousands of dollars for something requiring significant work.

Aaron, if you're in the physical sciences, and you haven't been offered honoraria for little technical tasks, all I can suggest is that you've got little enough reputation in your field to have become visible to the rest of the world.
2.3.2007 8:00pm
Aaron Bergman (mail):
As I've seen, people get honoraria for given colloquium level talks or higher. In my field, at least, the usual departmental talks will get travel and expenses. Maybe a per diem for a longer visit. But ten grand? For writing a paper? Not in my field as far as I've seen. I've heard of drug companies doing such a thing, but I think everyone pretty much acknowledges that that really is a bribe.
2.3.2007 8:13pm
Aaron Bergman (mail):
And, I should say, there's a huge difference between giving money to people to talk about research already preformed and soliciting papers with money. I can imagine someone soliciting a review article or some such for a collection, but I've never heard of anything approaching ten grand.

But perhaps I just don't get out enough.
2.3.2007 8:18pm
Davebo (mail):
Nothing to see here.

Move along.

Here's your check, get going.

God, is it from drinking too much Evian? (Reverse the word and you'll get the idea)
2.3.2007 8:39pm
Justin (mail):
Either Adler's defense is really weak on the merits, or its a very strange coincidence that in cases involving expert litigation, the expert for the defense tends to support the defense's side and the exxpert for the plaintiff tends to support the plaintiff's side. I mean, under the law, they're all simply (for a fee) exercising their own independant judgment as agents for the Court, right?
2.3.2007 8:51pm
cirby (mail):
But ten grand? For writing a paper?


No, for writing a paper with significant research and other work, along with a presentation. And yes, that's pretty common in a lot of fields (medicine, for the most part, and not funded by drug companies to bolster their drug sales). A typical situation is that of a medical company that hires a well-known surgeon to walk a bunch of their people through a difficult procedure that uses equipment like the ones they sell.

I've seen people carry home multi-thousand dollar checks from medical conferences for merely giving a short speech based on their prior work, without having to do much more than prep a Power Point show. Hell, look at what "management consultants" get for showing up and telling people that they need, well, more management consulting...

And, I should say, there's a huge difference between giving money to people to talk about research already preformed and soliciting papers with money.


Yes, there is, especially when you're asking them to do some actual work, which should take more than a few weeks to perform. This isn't like tossing off a blog post or a newspaper article, you know.

If you discount the "solicited" papers, then we should start with telling everyone that the IPCC reports are no longer valid, since they certainly started by weeding out the scientists who have said even mildly critical things about global warming, and paid their "consultants" for their time and travel...
2.3.2007 8:56pm
Mark J. (mail):
Jim Hansen of NASA's Goddard Institute is often called the leading U.S. scientist on global warming.

These are his remarks as he accepted the $250,000 Heinz Foundation award

"I want to thank, Teresa Heinz and the Foundation for this Award, which I hope will encourage other scientists to speak their minds."

Award recipients receive a medallion and an unrestricted cash prize of up to $250,000.

If this was a right wing foundation it would be villified as a bribe.

Where is the fairness here?

Also, it is interesting to note he received this award in the spring of 2001 when John Kerry was campaigning for President of the United States.

When James Hansen complains about the Bush administration meddling in global warming science, it is not hard to see his conflicts of interest here.

Again, where is the balance in reporting?

Let me guess...left wing foundations are pure of heart and have no bias.
2.3.2007 8:57pm
Viscus (mail) (www):
National Review's Jonathan Adler concedes everything we need to know about the AEI and its buying of climate scienstists when he writes:


In these letters AEI was certainly seeking out prominent analysts willing to participate in a critical examination of the IPCC report, but I don't think the letter suggests AEI wanted Professor Schroeder or anyone else to tailor their views to AEI's agenda. (bold added)


A critical examination doesn't sound bad, except the kind of critical examination that the AEI is looking for is made clear by the following comment: "the IPCC is susceptible to self-selection bias in its personnel, resistant to reasonable criticism and dissent and prone to summary conclusions that are poorly supported by the analytical work."

Last time I checked, before you decide that IPCC report contains "summary conclusions" that are "poorly supported by the analytical work" and the product of "self-selection bias" one has to do a neutral critical examination, not one that assumes that these factors will be present before the examination even occurs.

It is clear what sort of perspective that the AEI is trying to buy here. They write: "We are hoping to sponsor a paper by you and Prof. North that thoughtfully explores the limitations of climate model outputs as they pertain to the development of climate policy."

Clearly, the focus here is on limitations. Which obviouisly exist in any scientific endeavor. So yes, contra to Adler, the AEI is expecting scholars to tailor their views to a certain agenda. AEI is expecially interested in limitations, rather than a balanced view and neutral truly independent analysis.

This whole affair is scandalous. Any serious scholar who happens to be affiliated with AEI probably should reconsider, in order to preserve their reputation and credibility. Working for AEI is kind of like branding yourself as being untrustworthy. Someone who can be bought. An intellectual whore.
2.3.2007 9:01pm
toby928:

Last time I checked, before you decide that IPCC report contains "summary conclusions" that are "poorly supported by the analytical work" and the product of "self-selection bias" one has to do a neutral critical examination, not one that assumes that these factors will be present before the examination even occurs.



That might be true were this the first report summary from the IPCC but the quote is plainly about the IPCC and its previous reports, not the latest report.

Tob
2.3.2007 9:20pm
Stating the Obvious:
Yes, yes...all very scandalous. I hereby urge all scientists to perform their work as avocation only, and for the government to immediately cease funding all scientific endevors. I'd hate for anyone to think that scientists were on anyone's payroll, especially that of an institution that gains its revenue coercively, since it immediately follows that all scientists are shills of whoever pays them.

(Remember back in the day, when one actually had to read an article to determine whether or not the author was biased...)

PS: Actually, I *do* urge that the government immediately cease funding all scientific endevors, but only because I urge they stop engaging in all actions for which there is no Constitutionally authorized power.
2.3.2007 9:21pm
Shad:
Quick question — do all of the people who contribute to the work product of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change do so for free?

I certainly hope so, because if they were paid or compensated for their time and efforts then that would be a scanadalous affair which revealed the IPCC as a group of dishonest, untrustworthy scholars who were bought off as intellectual whores.

Right?
2.3.2007 9:27pm
Viscus (mail) (www):
Tob,

So, you admit that the AEI has an anti-IPCC agenda and that it is trying to find scholars to support that agenda?
2.3.2007 9:27pm
toby928:

you admit that the AEI has an anti-IPCC agenda and that it is trying to find scholars to support that agenda?


That would be my reading. I don't have a problem with that. I don't see where the AEI is soliciting lies.

Tob
2.3.2007 9:30pm
Viscus (mail) (www):
Shad,

It is one thing to be paid a salary which enables one to survive. It is another to be paid for a paper that is intended to advance a particular agenda, rather than search for the noble truth, wherever that may take us.

When you are willing to distort the truth for money, you are an intellectual whore. When you are paid to search for the undistorted truth, and you pursue that truth relentlessly, regardless of whose agenda it may or may not advance, then you are a true scholar, worth of respect and esteem.

Those who work for AEI are branding themselves as intellectual whores. It is a self-inflicted wound.
2.3.2007 9:36pm
Ted Frank (www):
I'm astonished at some of the comments here that utterly ignore what is actually written in order to criticize AEI.

"DeMuth admits that they offered honoraria, up to $10,000, to fund research and the publishing of research that seeks to undermine the IPCC." No, he said AEI offered honoraria to fund research and the publishing of research about the IPCC: "Ken and Steve canvassed scholars with a range of views on the scientific and policy issues, with an eye to the intrinsic quality and interest of their work rather than to whether partisans might characterize them as climate change "skeptics" or "advocates." They certainly did not avoid those with a favorable view of the IPCC reports—-such as Professor Schroeder himself."

Loki13 writes "While I would never impugn the motives of the AEI, I don't think the winner will publish a paper that isn't completely lacking in reality dismissive of the IPCC's claims," an argument based on the false premises that (1) this is a contest rather than a commission; and (2) AEI approached only scholars who would provide a supposedly preferred approach, though AEI is not a monolithic institution that has published only one strain of opinion on this issue.

Viscus writes that the request sought only limitations. But this is false: the letter says "In particular, we are looking for an author who can write a well-supported but accessible discussion of which elements of climate modeling have demonstrated predictive value that might make them policy-relevant and which elements of climate modeling have less levels of predictive utility, and hence, less utility in developing climate policy," which is hardly seeking a tailored result (as opposed to topic). This anonymous blogger then proceeds to engage in a series of insults that demonstrates precisely the ideological shouting down of discussion that DeMuth warns against.

The double-standards exhibited by the AEI critics (IPCC funding is disregarded; AEI funding automatically disqualifies a scholar of any stripe or opinion, because a tiny fraction of that money comes from Exxon) aren't limited to the underlying issue, but even go to the meta-discussion. For example, R78 writes: "Is poster Ted Frank the same Ted Frank employed by the AEI? Isn't it customary to disclose that sort of thing?" My affiliation is hardly a secret, and identified in the the URL I provided next to my name. But I can't help note the irony of an anonymous poster questioning the completeness of disclosure by a comment poster.
2.3.2007 9:40pm
Viscus (mail) (www):
Toby,

Good. Then we are in agreement about what the AEI is all about. Our only difference is that you don't have a problem with the AEI hiring intellectual whores. In contrast, I do have a problem with intellectual prostitution.
2.3.2007 9:40pm
toby928:

When you are willing to distort the truth for money, you are an intellectual whore.


Is there any indication that the solicited scientists have or are willing to distort the truth for money or other considerations?

Tob
2.3.2007 9:41pm
Viscus (mail) (www):
Ted Frank,

I am afraid that the poster is absolutely right about the necessity of you disclosing your affiliation with AEI before weighing in on a discussion concerning the credibility of that very organization. This is nothing more than dishonesty via omission, though perhaps negligent rather than intentional. Your affiliation with AEI may be "well-known" to yourself, but it isn't well-known generally. You also are not the only Ted Frank in existence. So a reasonable person, even if they knew that there existed a Ted Frank working for AEI would not assume that the Ted Frank commenting on this blog is the same person. Your use of the name "Ted Frank" does not lead one to say "Aha! Of course, you must be the Ted Frank affiliated with AEI."

You should just admit that you made a mistake, rather than criticize someone who accurately pointed out your mistake.
2.3.2007 9:48pm
theut:
I hope I live long enough to see the global warming farce fall on its face. I have decided if I die first I will leave a note to my future ancestors. Upon the day that global warming is proved a farce they can open the safety deposit box and see the note that says " I told you so". Along with other nuggets or predictions I plan to leave them. I like the debate soo much I plan on getting in the last word. LOL!!
2.3.2007 9:49pm
Ted Frank (www):
Again, I did disclose my affiliation in the URL associated with my id, and I'm the only Ted Frank associated with that website. Again, it's irrelevant to whether my arguments are factually and logically correct. And, again, I note the irony of an anonymous commenter complaining about the incompleteness of the disclosure of a commenter who used his full name. If it's so important to evaluate who the argument is coming from, why shouldn't we assume your omission of any verifiable information demonstrates your own lack of credibility? Your impolite arguments not only fail on the merits, they're refuted by your own actions.

I note that you continue to refuse to address the substance of anything said.
2.3.2007 9:58pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
This is a lawyer blog. Nobody here would object to a lawyer being hired to critique a legal brief, so why should anyone object to a scientist being hired to critique a controversial scientific paper on global warming?
2.3.2007 9:58pm
Viscus (mail) (www):
Toby,

If you emphasize certain truths over other truths in order to advance an agenda, then you are distorting the overall truth. That is clearly what the AEI is seeking here. It is quite explicit in seeking someone to counter the

(1) "self-selection bias"
(2) resistance "to reasonable criticism and dissent"
(3) summary conclusions that are poorly supported by the analytical work

With a heavy emphasis on the "limitations" of the work as a whole, not on an honest evaluation.

AEI is not an organization totally lacking in sophistication. They aren't going to explicitly say, "we want you to dishonestly tailor your views to suit our agenda." But it is very clear, as you have conceded, that AEI has an anti-IPCC agenda.

So, put it all together. Any researcher to whom this letter is directed would be able to similarly detect the agenda that the AEI intends to advance and would know what emphasis the AEI is looking for. (The letter screams: Emphasize limitations! Talk about self-selection bias. Lack of openness to dissent. Unsupported conclusions.)
2.3.2007 10:00pm
Loki13 (mail):
Mr. Frank,

I am not sure I understand your disagreement with me. Should you provide me with a list of papers supporting the proposition that global warming is occuring, and is anthropogenic, I will be duly surprised and withdraw my skepticism of the AEI and their motives. I will also do that if the honorarium goes to a scientist who publishes research supporting the IPCC's position.

I find my contention no less surprising than if (say) Greenpeace were to fund studies to attempt to link the recent rise in global temperatures to man-made carbon emissions.

My problem is not that the AEI is funding studies that support their ideological cause. It is the disingenuousness.

"Shocked, shocked there is gambling on in this establishment!"
2.3.2007 10:05pm
toby928:
So, put it all together. Any researcher to whom this letter is directed would be able to similarly detect the agenda that the AEI intends to advance and would know what emphasis the AEI is looking for.

Should I read that as a NO then. ;-) Are you are merely casting aspirations without any evidence?

Tob
2.3.2007 10:06pm
Loki13 (mail):
slight mistake- in second sentence add:
list of papers funded by the AEI
2.3.2007 10:06pm
Tek Jansen:
Ted Frank: if they wanted, say, a journal with reviews of the IPCC, they'd certainly include some folks like Hansen who have been part of the IPCC process, or perhaps reviews by people outside of but who support the IPCC process. If the AEI have solicited such articles, please let us know specifics. I eagerly await reading those contributions.

Otherwise, their point is to undermine the IPCC - which is fine, so long as they are honest about it. Lies are unbecoming... and if you/AEI are lying about this, how can I possibly trust the AEI or its method of selecting which research to fund?
2.3.2007 10:19pm
toby928:
Aspersions, obviously. Misspelled snark is a wasted effort. ;-)

Tob
2.3.2007 10:20pm
Twill00 (mail):
The primary difference is between the following two quotes -

"Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today."

"In these letters AEI was certainly seeking out prominent analysts willing to participate in a critical examination of the IPCC report,"

The difference is the term "undermine" compared with "critically examine". Science is based upon critically examining all claims by scientists. Why would or should an international political group like
IPCC be immune from this examination?

The assumption that a critical examination of the IPCC
report will undermine it is probably the most damning statement in the whole juxtaposition. Especially since the actual letter (or proposal) simply asks the scientists to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the data - what do we know and what do we not know.

Very interesting that so many people seem to think that
information could be damning for the IPCC.
2.3.2007 10:24pm
Ted Frank (www):
Tek: I don't know who Green and Hayward solicited; the only person I know they've solicited is the one mentioned in the Guardian story who is an IPCC supporter. You have chosen to condemn AEI without evidence of wrongdoing. And since any refutation will be treated by you as further evidence of lying about secret motivations that you have no evidence of, this seems to be a matter of faith to you, and I don't get into theological arguments.

In response to Loki13's request: "If the president simply acknowledges that humans are probably causing some climate change, that warming will likely continue, and that warming might pose serious challenges for human societies and ecosystems, his epiphany will be a bit late, but at least reasonable. Whether liberal or conservative, thoughtful analysts have recognized this for over a decade now." -- Kenneth Green, AEI Environmental Policy Outlook, October 2006

NB that this is the same Kenneth Green who is the AEI scholar mentioned in the Guardian story. Other AEI scholars may disagree with Green. This isn't my specialty, and AEI doesn't have a party line (cf. Leon Kass v. Sally Satel on opposite sides of the question of maximizing organ donations) so I don't keep track of every single scholar's opinions.

With respect to carbon policy, I'll note for extra-full disclosure that not only do I work at AEI (albeit at a fraction of the pay I could make in the private sector), I drive a Toyota Prius about 5000 miles/year on the occasions that I do not take the Metro, I live in a high-rise, and that I support a revenue-neutral $17/ton carbon tax, a proposal I first heard about through another proponent, AEI fellow David Frum. I don't think any of this needs to be disclosed, and none of it is relevant to the fact that the Guardian story and the criticisms of AEI in this thread are hooey.
2.3.2007 10:25pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
Tek says this is "exactly correct":
Of course, if there were any scientists out there who had legitimate complaints about the report, they could have worked with the IPCC and registered their objections during the drafting process.
I would like to also hear from some scientists who were not part of the IPCC process.
2.3.2007 10:30pm
Tek Jansen:
The Guardian doesn't say whether Schroeder is an IPCC-supporter or not. Adler says that Schroeder has been "critical of climate models in the past." According to the A&M website, Schroeder is a researcher, not a professor, and doesn't seem to have a webpage. Perhaps not coincidentally, some of his previous political efforts through Reason have been to support agricultural responses to climate change.

I'm skeptical of AEI because I've read enough work by climate change skeptics to know that most of it is garbage. Maybe the AEI is different, and I'll be happy to change my opinion of them if they demonstrate that based on their funding.
2.3.2007 10:55pm
Eli Rabett (www):
First of all, this story has been around at least since the summer of 2006. I don't really know why it has ignited this week except for the fact that the AR4 SPM just came out.

Second, the real issue is that the radical right in the US is very effective in funding people who agree with them. Pajama Media is a wonderful example. Does anyone want to pretend that it is worth what was paid to establish it? How about Regnery Books? How many of those best sellers are supported by bulk purchase?

Third, how much do you think the IPCC pays its contributing scientists?
2.3.2007 10:59pm
LesLein (mail):
The IPCC probably doesn't spend much time with scientists who don't believe climate change models. Climate change models are funded by government grants. The basic philosophy behind grant funding is "no problem, no funding."

I believe that in 1988 James Hansen predicted that the sea level would increase by 2 feet in 20 years. How much do sea levels need to rise next year for his prediction to come true?

What does the new study say about the Medieval warming period?

For what it's worth here's what Swiss researchers at the Jungfraujoch say about Alpine glaciers:

"During Roman times the glacier tongues were located at least 300 m higher than they are now."

"Around 1850 the Alpine glaciers reached their greatest extension since the last Ice Age. Evidence of this 'mini-Ice Age' can be seen in the fresh, steep moraine ridges which surround all our Alpine glaciers."

"The postglacial period -- the last 10,000 years -- has been marked by five climatic cycles. Each lasted 2,000 years with rapid changes from colder to warmer or warmer to colder weather."

In other words, climate change probably has natural causes.
2.3.2007 11:13pm
GregD:
AEI credibility = 0
2.3.2007 11:29pm
Peter B. Nordberg (mail) (www):
Ted Frank, with whom I disagree vigorously on just about every subject that I can summon to mind right now, is correct that his relationship with AEI is widely known -- especially so, I would think, in the blogosphere, where I cannot spend ten minutes without tripping over him. I'm all in favor of full disclosure sufficient unto the occasion, but we're talking about a comment on a weblog here. I can't imagine that Ted could have entertained any hope or fantasy that his identity as "the" AEI Ted Frank would escape notice and/or comment.

The commissioned papers should stand or fall on their eventual merits, which are logically independent of the circumstances of their genesis. It should likewise be remembered, when they are finally published and presented, that the mere fact of their issuance is not, by itself, substantial evidence of scientific uncertainty on climate change. This kind of issue cannot be resolved, or treated as unresolved, based on simple head-counts -- especially not when well-funded organizations with broader social agendas have been funding a GOTV effort.

Personally, I think the issue is already well-enough resolved to applaud Ted for driving a Prius. Maybe somebody could please fund some research on how to get more people to drive 'em.

P.S. I have no affiliation with Toyota. Ted, if you do, you had better mention it pronto.
2.3.2007 11:35pm
advisory opinion:
The commissioned papers should stand or fall on their eventual merits, which are logically independent of the circumstances of their genesis.


Mr Nordberg is of course quite right. Blustering from the likes of "viscus" is simply a transparent attempt at shutting off criticism of the IPCC findings by means of smearing the source from which it is issued. The irony is that "viscus" rants against agendas and prejudged criticism, oblivious to the fact that he's prejudging the AEI solicited critique himself.

Hypocritical much?
2.3.2007 11:56pm
Aaron Bergman (mail):
Award recipients receive a medallion and an unrestricted cash prize of up to $250,000.

If this was a right wing foundation it would be villified as a bribe.


Emphasis added.
2.4.2007 12:27am
Lev:
Geez, you people attacking AEI sound like the Moslems attacking the Danish cartoonists for disrespecting Mohammed.
2.4.2007 12:48am
godfodder (mail):
I'm sorry, but I see this as yet another example of the political Left's usual ad hominem strategy, only in this case it could be called ad institutiem. The idea is to throw mud all over the reputation of the AEI (excuse me, Bush's intellectual mafia!!), and thus obviate the need to address any of their concerns or arguments.

It has become something of an addiction for the Left. I almost never see them meet arguments with arguments anymore. Instead, reach for the mud, the smear, the attack on secret "motives," the caricature, and viola! No need to rebut your opponent, just destroy him. The idea is to close down debate by making one party to the debate radioactive. Once you've done that, you are free to ignore his "facts."

Do you need to rebut Pres. Bush? Hell no! Just make fun of him, and call him "stupid." Present a plan for Iraq? Heavens no! Just denounce the motives of anyone who has a plan, and ridicule everything as a failure! It's all for Halliburton!! Listen to Dick Cheney, and respond to his analysis of anything? Are you kidding? He's Darth Vader!! Ha,ha. Address the concerns of both sides in the Global Warming debate? Of course not! They're "holocaust deniers!!" Abortion? Religious crazies!! Tax rates? Greedy rich people!!! AEI's research on any topic? They're whores for ExxonMobil... or was it Halliburton? No, ummm they suck big Pharma's teat!! And Republicans!! They blow them!!

This approach has the added benefit of not forcing the Left to actually propose a solution to anything. Only that they oppose-- with every fiber of their heroic beings-- those evil neo-con men of the Right.

No doubt I will get flamed for this post. Tough. But mark my words, the Democrats and their allies in the media are creating a monster. One that they will not easily control. You cheapen the public discourse at your own peril. In the not too distant future it will be literally impossible to have a rational discussion about any public policy. What a glorious day that will be, huh.

(And yes, I am aware that some on the R side of the spectrum are equally guilty of all the sins I enumerate above. It is just that it is not nearly as wide spread. I mean, demeaning the intelligence of President Bush is practically a cottage industry. It is the knee-jerk response to every argument put forth by the man.)
2.4.2007 1:09am
Tex:
Well, I certainly wouldn't waste my time reading a report done by AEI, and I doubt whatever comes of this will merit anything more than an eye roll. I honestly can never figure out how people find working at places like AEI or, on the left, the Center for American Progress fulfilling. Do they just resign themselves to shilling until they can get a job in government?

But all that aside, what I really am wondering--and I apologize for going off topic here--is why this 1 percent doctrine idea only applies things like terrorism and not things like massive climate change?
2.4.2007 2:33am
anym_avey (mail):
AFAIK, I am generally unfamiliar with the works of AEI and have neither reason nor basis to support or disqualify its work. Second, I have no reason to believe that AEI's critics are anything less than sincere in their concerns.

That said, the following comment is a very succinct summary of what is wrong with many of the criticims levied in this thread:

When you are willing to distort the truth for money, you are an intellectual whore. When you are paid to search for the undistorted truth, and you pursue that truth relentlessly, regardless of whose agenda it may or may not advance, then you are a true scholar, worth of respect and esteem.

A minute ago we were talking about science. If truth is your objective, you would better serve your time in religion or philosophy. Science is not qualified to determine what truth is. Science can declare the best-understood state of things now, which may approach 'truth' in the colloquial sense, but it cannot give me an explanation that stands objectively and outside of revision, and thus has nothing to contribute towards "distorted" or "undistorted" truth.

Second, science gives me facts, and interpretations that attempt to best understand those facts. None of these preclude a challenge of existing facts -- by other interpretations, or the discovery of new facts -- that may weaken or even overturn the existing interpretations. AEI appears to be soliciting exactly that kind of challenge, and without a clear demonstration that they are doing something else, good faith demands that one should wait and see what kind of result is produced. Juvenile rhetoric and slander, especially before-the-fact, contribute nothing to the debate save for a distasteful revelation of the asserting party's character flaws.

Third, the idea of the 'noble scientist' as being an objective fact seeker who is free from bias, is very nice in theory and virtually non-existent in practice. (Persuant to point 1 above, I might add that if this concept is the basis of anyone's religion, find a better one). Scientists are as human as the rest of us; people of all occupations, science and otherwise, are prone to a number of known and demonstrable flaws. They may fail to observe results that fall outside of their training and/or expectations; 'groupthink' effects cannot be completely excluded, particularly in occupations where specialization of knowledge forces a narrow focus; and perhaps most importantly, it is impossible to perform any science at all if you do not have foundational expectations on which to premise your experiments.

Notice how all of this is possible without assuming anything whatsoever regarding scientist's motives; it just happens wherever humans are involved. The best solution within human limitations is to solicit as much science as possible, not determine which science is 'truth' and then write off the naysayers as cranks.

Finally, since scientists are known to find food and shelter as munificient to themselves as it is the rest of us, I really don't care where they get their money -- whether from honorariums distributed as compensation for time and travel, or as universtiy research grants distributed by commercial industry or by the Foundation For Socliciting Results Like This Please. The delivered results are capable of speaking for themselves.

Which leaves one glaring question: Why do some seem to be afraid of what might turn up in those results?
2.4.2007 2:39am
A. Zarkov (mail):
loki13:

"You know, godfodder,for a long time the tobacco industry funded studies and interest groups and scientists to promote uncertainty into the debate over a causal link …"

Do you know who R.A. Fisher was? Or Joseph Berkson? Fisher is founder of modern statistics including the important principles of experimental design and randomization. He is perhaps the most important statistician of the 20th Century. Berkson was chief of medical statistics at the Mayo Clinic and was trained as both a doctor and a mathematical statistician. He served on the statistics committee of the American Cancer Society.

Both Fisher and Berkson (who often disagreed about subjects statistical) were critical of any link between tobacco smoking and cancer. In the late 1950s they pointed out weaknesses in the evidence, even evidence from prospective studies. Of course now we know there is link because we have the benefit of more than 50 years of additional data, experiments and research. Nevertheless both Fisher and Berkson had objections at the time that were based on sound scientific reasoning. On the other hand, the National Socialists in Germany were way ahead of their time because they opposed smoking and had a campaign to stamp it out. (See the "Statistics, Scientific Method and Smoking," by B. W. Brown Jr. in the book, Statistics: A Guide to the Unknown edited by Tanur and Mosteller.)

The important lesson we should take away from the history of science is you never know who is going to turn out to be right. You do the best science you can at the time and invite critical study. The advocates of climate change don't seem to like critical review.
2.4.2007 4:30am
donaldk:
Typical left-wing blather. Res ipsa loquitur. When the report is issued it will speak for itself. If it is unpersuasive, surely we will hear about it from some of the enthusiasts above.

Animadversions about AEI are completely off-target. Truth is the object, and owes nothing to its source.
2.4.2007 4:44am
Brian K (mail):
Godfodder

It seems that the right (and you) are not free from "ad institutiem" attacks either.
2.4.2007 4:59am
A. Zarkov (mail):
The advocates of global warming should welcome the action by AEI. They will of course have every opportunity to respond and rebut, and if the criticism(s) should be invalid it will strengthen their case and enhance their credibility. On the other hand, if the reviewers have valid objections then advocates should be only too happy to stand corrected. I ask the advocates: "What are you afraid of?" More than half the Congress, most of the media, and almost the whole of academia are on your side already. If you believe that your case is strong then you should be happy to have someone pay for additional review. Could it be that you're really afraid someone is going to point out the problems with the cloud physics? Or that the uncertainty interval for a co2 doubling has remained unchanged since the 1970s. Are you afraid someone might draw attention to potential chaos effects? Perhaps you don't want the public to know that the GCM modelers don't know which model is correct, so they run them all and publish the spread which has no probability weighting? In my experience anyone confident of his work wants review, the more the better.
2.4.2007 5:25am
advisory opinion:
Only rabid ideologies and religions foreclose criticism. Tellingly for some on here, climate science is more of a religion than a science, with heretics to be persecuted as intellectual "prostitutes" on the flimsiest of pretexts. What a shame.
2.4.2007 8:11am
Ted Frank (www):
I honestly can never figure out how people find working at places like AEI or, on the left, the Center for American Progress fulfilling. Do they just resign themselves to shilling until they can get a job in government?

I can't speak as to CAP but, in my case, as in David Frum's, not once has anyone "ever breathed a word to me suggesting that I should take this side or that of a particular debate." So I don't view myself as shilling: I've sponsored and organized (or helped to organize) AEI panels that showcased interesting papers or books I disagreed with, including one headlined by Eugene Volokh himself, and the vast majority of panels I've spoken on or moderated at AEI featured representatives from the opposite side of the position I was taking.

Tomorrow evening, Leon Kass is going to speak at AEI; I'm going to attend and, in the question-and-answer period, challenge his premises about "repugnance" as a grounds for public policy by contrasting his recent support of Kant with Kass's earlier book on Genesis, and I fear no repercussions for doing so.

AEI is a top-notch academic institution without political correctness requirements, and has the additional benefit that I don't have to spend time grading papers. What's not to find fulfilling?
2.4.2007 10:27am
A. Zarkov (mail):
From today's Financial Times:

"The world's leading climate scientists on Friday swept away the last doubts surrounding global warming, saying they were certain human activities were altering the climate…"

"The evidence for climate change caused by fossil fuel combustion was "unequivocal", said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,…"

"Yvo de Boer, secretary-general of the UN climate change secretariat, said work should now begin on a successor treaty to Kyoto that would include obligations on developed countries to cut carbon dioxide emissions and incentives for poor countries to limit theirs."


Note that poor countries (China?, India?) are not obligated, only given incentives. Note also every statement is dogmatic. How can they know what doubts remain with the science part held back, so all you can read is the executive summary? BTW the authors were instructed to make sure the content of the report does not contradict the summary.
2.4.2007 10:47am
MnZ (mail):
Aaron Bergman,

I don't know if I follow.

Wouldn't an unrestricted award be consistent with a bribe? If you are funding real research, then you might restrict the award to ensure that it is properly spent. If you are paying someone off, you would want to keep the reward unrestriced, correct?
2.4.2007 11:28am
Noel (www):
I was watching the Weather Channel Fri. night and the Weather-babe was aghast &agog that anyone would dare question the Received Wisdom. She mouthed the AEI smears as fact. But then, The Weather Channel is "funded" by Kimberly-Clark--I saw a Kleenex commercial!
2.4.2007 11:39am
MarkW (mail):
The premise of Mr. Adler's post seems to be that we are obligated to take the public pronouncements from the AEI which he reproduces at face value, and not to, for example, allow the AEI's history or reputation to in any way color our reading of those pronouncements.

Sorry, can't do that. AEI is a hack outfit, not a serious research institute. That their roster of "scholars and fellows" includes such names as Charles Murray and Michael Ledeen, and until recently included John Lott, is all the evidence one needs to rationally reach that conclusion. Why do I say that? Because of the atrocious quality of the "research" produced by the likes of Mssrs. Ledeen, Lott and Murray. That AEI is willing to publish their junk shows that AEI has absolutely no meaningful scholarly standards.

Now, it may be the case, as the AEI's Mr. Frank contends, that on a few occasions there will be some internal debate within AEI on a handful of issues. It may be the case that on rare occasions, some AEI "scholar" may publish something that would potentially qualify for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. A handful of exceptions do not require me to modify my conclusion that AEI is a hack institution.

And one is entitled to question the motives of a hack outfit at any time.
2.4.2007 1:35pm
Ted Frank (www):
Even assuming arguendo the unfair and baseless attack on Messrs. Ledeen, Lott, and Murray as "hacks," MarkW's guilt-by-association argument proves too much, as it demonstrates on its own terms that Yale, MIT, the University of Chicago, Washington University, and Center for Strategic and International Studies (at a minimum) are also "hack institutions," at which point the term loses all useful meaning.

And, once again, I note the irony of an anonymous commenter complaining about secret unrevealed motivations of others.
2.4.2007 2:04pm
MarkW (mail):
as it demonstrates on its own terms that Yale, MIT, the University of Chicago, Washington University, and Center for Strategic and International Studies (at a minimum) are also "hack institutions," at which point the term loses all useful meaning.

How so, Ted? Please clarify this as it's far from the obvious point you seem to think it is.

And Ted, Mark is in fact my name.
2.4.2007 2:17pm
MnZ (mail):
Why are people so up in arms about AEI's actions?

If we wanted to document all the instances of studies funded by unbiased groups, we could go on for years. For example, the teachers' unions routinely fund studies that always tend to show that hiring more public school teachers and paying them more improves educational performance while vouchers and charter schools are worthless. (Surprising, no?) Why does the AEI warrant any more scrutiny?

For those of you enraged at the AEI, I would make two points:

1) The IPCC's budget is indisputably much, much larger than the $10,000 that the AEI is offering.

2) If the IPCC's conclusions can be undermined by a $10,000 study...well...
2.4.2007 2:44pm
MnZ (mail):
Oops...make that "studies funded by unbiased groups."
2.4.2007 2:46pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
MarkW:

"Sorry, can't do that. AEI is a hack outfit, not a serious research institute. That their roster of "scholars and fellows" includes such names as Charles Murray ..."


How is (say) Charles Murray a "hack?" Give me a specific example, not just an insult or appeal to authority. Now had you picked James K. Glassman of the "Dow 36,000" theory I might agree that he is hack. But I say that for specific technical reasons. He misapplied the Gordon Dividend Discount Model, and he confused earnings growth with dividend growth to name but a few of many problems. But do we condemn the whole of AEI because one or a few staff members have done poor work? By that standard I can condemn Stanford University because of Paul Ehrlich who published The Population Bomb, which predicted that in the 1970s the world would experience massive famines. He predicted that life expectancy in the US would drop to 42 years by 1980 and its population would drop to 22 million by 1999! He also said the UK would probably not exist in the year 2000. How's that for a hack? How come Stanford hasn't fired him for gross negligence? Moreover like Glassman he is unrepentant.
2.4.2007 3:16pm
NickM (mail) (www):
A prior poster had it right except for one detail:

This does seem to be a bit less of a scandal than I'd originally heard about. Anything sponsored by the United Nations has no credibility to start with. "Research" that comes out of an ideological thinktank, corporation, advocacy group, or political campaign is nonevidence. There is no point in analyzing such "studies" on the merits; they should all go in the circular file.

Nick
2.4.2007 3:16pm
HLSbertarian (mail):
This discussion was over when Elliot Reed said this yesterday:

"Research" that comes out of an ideological thinktank, corporation, advocacy group, or political campaign is nonevidence. There is no point in analyzing such "studies" on the merits; they should all go in the circular file. (emphasis added)
2.4.2007 3:18pm
Randy R. (mail):
Ronald Bailey, a prominent critic of the whole global warming debate, recently reversed. Writing in Reason Magazine, he says the data is now strong enough to show that there is indeed global warming.

I suppose a few months ago he was a wise scientist, but now he must be a loony leftist, right? But he says the only reason he changed position was because he was convinced of the science, which is what so many doubters keep harping on.

If the doubting scientists can look at the data and find that there is indeed climate change, why do so many people continue to say there is nothing there, that is 'a farce', as one person put it? The only way to continue to deny such reality is to say that the person you relied on a few months ago is now unreliable, with no explanation as to why.
2.4.2007 3:51pm
toby928:

I suppose a few months ago he was a wise scientist, but now he must be a loony leftist



Or, he was a hack denier and is now a wise scientist. Pick your poison.

Tob
2.4.2007 4:01pm
advisory opinion:
I demand a full investigation of Ronald Bailey's honoraria received.
2.4.2007 4:07pm
Elliot Reed:
HLSbertarian - I don't get your point. Are you disagreeing with me or agreeing?
2.4.2007 4:09pm
advisory opinion:
That you doubt the import of your own statement in bold is answer enough. You don't believe in evaluating critical studies on their merits, you'd much rather malign its source. A mode of ad hominem, as others have pointed out.
2.4.2007 4:20pm
Justin (mail):
The "ad hominen criticism is wrong" argument is thorougly erroneous, as I have discussed before. When the reader, either because the evidence is withheld or too complex for him to understand, on a particular challenged argument, is expected to agree by trusting or distrusting the source, an ad hominen attack/ab hominen defense is all you have to go by.
2.4.2007 4:41pm
advisory opinion:
What a silly objection.

Not only is it not "thoroughly erroneous", it is utterly expected of scientists NOT to take things on trust. Your argument, if it applies at all, applies only to the average reader - not the scientific community at large. Or are you claiming that the scientific community would find an AEI rejoinder "too complex" to understand?

Do keep up.
2.4.2007 4:48pm
MarkW (mail):
How is (say) Charles Murray a "hack?"

Are you really unaware of, just for example, the numerous book-length critiques published in response to The Bell Curve, which totally demolished Murray's reasoning and conclusions? Of the equally devastating critiques, way back in the 1980's, of Murray's Losing Ground?

But do we condemn the whole of AEI because one or a few staff members have done poor work?

It's not just "one or a few" cases, it's a sizable fraction of the work that AEI publishes--so much that it's impossible to believe that they have any sort of neutral, scholarly standards for what gets published.

As to your argument about Paul Ehrlich, the proper comparsion should be between AEI and academic journals or publshers. If an academic journal published, over a period of years, the same proportion of genuinely poor research as does AEI, their reputation would be in tatters.
2.4.2007 4:55pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Shorter Justin:
Ad hominem arguments are convenient for the lazy and uninformed.

This is no doubt true, but all it means that ad hominem evaluations have some utility as a time-saving filtering device for those who lack the time or ability to evaluate the substance of a claim. It does not say anything at all about the truth or falsity of the claim. In other words, it does not establish that ad hominem arguments are valid arguments.

Put another way: While it may be reasonable in some contexts to say: "I trust information and arguments from X more than from Y because Y is [corrupt/bought/of the wrong ideology/etc.]", it is a logical fallacy to say "Y's argument is wrong" for the same reasons. The strength or weakness of Y's argument can be evaluated independently of Y's personal failings.

In the context of blog commentary, I think it reasonable to presume that those who rely upon ad hominem arguments do so because they lack the time, inclination or ability to mount more substantive critiques.

JHA
2.4.2007 5:02pm
Terry Gain (mail):
Laughs of the day

"Please clarify this as it's far from the obvious point you seem to think it is."

The point is obvious. Let him stew.

"And Ted, Mark is in fact my name."

Such insight.
2.4.2007 5:04pm
HLSbertarian (mail):
Elliot Reed: Disagreeing.

advisory opinion: Exactly.

Justin: No one is being "expected to agree by trusting or distrusting the source." We're talking, presumably, about a scientific article forthcoming next Fall -- is there any reason to write it off now? Whatever limited place you might think ad hominem attacks have in discourse, I don't see how it can be here.
2.4.2007 5:12pm
MnZ (mail):

I suppose a few months ago Ron Bailey was a wise scientist, but now he must be a loony leftist, right?
...
Or, [Ron Bailey] was a hack denier and is now a wise scientist. Pick your poison.


Well, one thing is for sure. If Ron Bailey thinks that there is global warming, Exxon certainly isn't getting its money's worth from Cato and the Reason Foundation.
2.4.2007 5:14pm
advisory opinion:
An even more eloquent defence of elementary logic by JHA.
Somehow I find categorical pronouncements on logical fallacies from persons who can't even spell the name of the fallacy in question correctly, unpersuasive. Is that allowed, Justin? After all, calling it an "ab hominen [sic]" is quite the spectacular gaffe.
2.4.2007 5:18pm
MnZ (mail):

As to your argument about Paul Ehrlich, the proper comparsion should be between AEI and academic journals or publshers. If an academic journal published, over a period of years, the same proportion of genuinely poor research as does AEI, their reputation would be in tatters.


MarkW, I respectfully disagree. AEI is a think-tank, and it should be compared to other think-tanks.

If you compare AEI to other think-tanks, then AEI is one of the most intellectually honest in my opinion. However, based on my experience, Brookings sets the standard for intellectual honesty.
2.4.2007 5:26pm
MarkW (mail):
MarkW, I respectfully disagree. AEI is a think-tank, and it should be compared to other think-tanks.

The context in which I made that point was in response to a specific comparison between think tank researchers and a university researcher; as I was addressing the quality of AEI as a publisher of research, academic publishers were the appropriate analogy.

I tend to evaluate and compare think tanks based on what I perceive to be the quality of their research; I'd name Brookings, Rand and the Urban Institute as the standard-setters.
2.4.2007 5:42pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
MarkW:

"Are you really unaware of, just for example, the numerous book-length critiques published in response to The Bell Curve, which totally demolished Murray's reasoning and conclusions? Of the equally devastating critiques, way back in the 1980's, of Murray's Losing Ground?"

I am aware that Murray's publications are controversial. I'm also aware that 52 professors working in psychometrics and related fields signed a published statement in support of the conclusions in The Bell Curve including: Arthur Jensen, Garrett Hardin, Nadine Lambert and Vincent Sarich at UC Berkeley. Do think these professors are "hacks?"

But you didn't answer the question, which was to avoid an appeal to authority and tell me exactly where Murray is wrong to such a degree as to make him a "hack?"

I don't have Losing Ground, but I do have The Bell Curve, so tell me what in The Bell Curve is egregiously incorrect? For example here are the main arguments in the book.

1. Intelligence exists and is accurately measureable across racial, language, and national boundaries.
2. Intelligence is one, if not the most, important correlative factor in economic, social, and overall success in America, and is becoming more important.
3. Intelligence is largely (40% to 80%) genetically heritable.
4. There are racial and ethnic differences in IQ that cannot be entirely be explained by environmental factors such as nutrition, social policy, or racism.
5. No one has so far been able to manipulate IQ long term to any significant degree through changes in environmental factors, and in light of their failure such approaches are becoming less promising.
6. The USA has been in denial regarding these facts, and in light of these findings a better public understanding of the nature of intelligence and its social correlates is necessary to guide future policy decisions in America.

Do you assert all these conclusions are incorrect? If so why do you believe that, what is your evidence?
2.4.2007 5:53pm
Noel (www):
Natural Global-Warming: dubious, but possible.

Man-Made Global Warming: extremely dubious.

Man-Made Global Warming cured by international bureaucrats: an impossibility.

Global Warming as an opportunity to tax, regulate, employ Kofi Anan's nephews, erode national sovereignty, boss people around and place governments even farther from citizen control: a certainty.

Chances it will matter much if madmen continue to get nukes?
2.4.2007 5:53pm
MnZ (mail):
MarkW,

I think Rand and the Urban Institute get the majority of their funding from the government. That causes them to play things "close to the vest." I tend to put them into a different group than AEI and Brookings.
2.4.2007 6:04pm
RSA (mail):
If I were working in this area and received a letter with this line,

We are hoping to sponsor a paper by you and Prof. North that thoughtfully explores the limitations of climate model outputs as they pertain to the development of climate policy (as opposed to the utility of climate models in more theoretical climate research).


I'd take it as a request for work that's largely outside the scope of my scientific research. Whether I accepted the funding would depend on a few factors: Do I have anything to say about policy issues? If so, do I want my views associated with the AEI? Can I draw a bright line between my research and my policy views? In the end, I think that the paper would turn out to be more of an op-ed than anything else, and I have nothing against op-eds, as long as everyone recognizes them as such and doesn't confuse them with science.

There's one ambiguous point that I may have missed the answer on, and it would affect my view of this situation: Is AEI giving the honorarium upfront or after they see the paper? I wouldn't touch the latter arrangement.
2.4.2007 6:09pm
MarkW (mail):
A. Zarkov

For an introduction to the myriad shortcomings of The Bell Curve, check out the reading list Ezra Klein put together in the wake of Murray's recent series in the WSJ here:



The Slate article by Nick Lemann is particularly good.

Also, if you've access to a good university library, check out James Heckman's review of The Bell Curve in the Octover 1995 Journal of Political Economy. I think you'll find that Heckman explicitly challenges several of the "main arguments" you find so persuasive.
2.4.2007 6:33pm
MarkW (mail):
Okay, trying again for the Ezra Klein link

2.4.2007 6:34pm
MarkW (mail):
Grrr!

Try this:

http://tinyurl.com/yrlhqk
2.4.2007 6:35pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
MarkW:

We have dueling authorities here. I don't know why your authorities are better than my authorities; in fact they seem much worse. Ezra Klein is a recent graduate of UCLA in political science, what makes him any kind of authority on psychometrics? James Heckman is an economist; again psychometrics is out of his field. Compare and contrast to the authorities I cited like Arthur Jensen who has spend his entire career researching psychometrics in general an intelligence in particular. He is the author of a major textbook in this field The g Factor. Surely his and the other professors I gave carry more weight then people outside the field.

But you still haven't told me why you believe The Bell Curve is Wrong. Why you think Jensen is wrong and Heckman is right?
2.4.2007 7:03pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
MarkW:

I read Erza Klein's article. He presents no new arguments and little in the way of evidence. We are dealing with a controversial topic, and not surprisingly if we do a broad sweep of the world we will find a smattering of contrary opinions mostly from people outside the field of psychometrics. He refers to an article in Cognitive Daily. But that article was about Murray's Wall Street Journal Articles not The Bell Curve and was written by Dave Munger who is not a psychometrican. Moreover that's just one article, any regular reader of Cognitive Daily would know that many, if not most of their articles would support Murray's conclusions in The Bell Curve.
2.4.2007 7:28pm
Elliot Reed:
Put another way: While it may be reasonable in some contexts to say: "I trust information and arguments from X more than from Y because Y is [corrupt/bought/of the wrong ideology/etc.]", it is a logical fallacy to say "Y's argument is wrong" for the same reasons. The strength or weakness of Y's argument can be evaluated independently of Y's personal failings.
Indeed. What's your point? Those of us who have no ability to evaluate these things on the merits can only decide whose expert opinion is most worthy of trust. When you're dealing with a source such as an ideological thinktank whose purpose is to promote a particular ideology rather than the truth (look at the second paragraph), their purportedly expert opinions should generally be thrown out.
2.4.2007 8:13pm
Brian K (mail):
HAHAHA

Zarkov, you demand "a specific example, not just an insult or appeal to authority" in mark's refutation of the bell curve. Mark gives you specific examples. Your defense from these examples is basically "those people aren't psychometricians therefore their critics don't matter". You then go on to say that "most psychometricians agree with the bell curve" which is little more than a vague and unsubstantiated appeal to authority.

What, if anything, would you consider a serious critique of the bell curve?
2.4.2007 8:31pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Brian K:

Mark did not give arguments-- he gave me authorities. For completeness I gave some counter authorities. But he has the burden of proof because he claims Murray is a hack based on the methods and conclusions in The Bell Curve. I want to know what conclusions are wrong. I did not make a vague appeal to authority because I provided a specific list of the professors who signed a public statement supporting the The Bell Curve. How is that vague? The web page with the list of professors also provides arguments supporting the Bell Curve. But let's forget about authorities. Take the list of conclusions and tell me which are wrong and why and we will go from there. If you don't like the list give me another conclusion and tell me why it's wrong. When you call someone a hack you should be prepared to say where and why his work is defective. When I said Glassman's Dow 36,000 is defective I provided reasons. I didn't just say so and so thinks its defective.

Murray provides all the data he used for the book on his web page. That's rare. Very few people give you enough data to in principle repeat their calculations. I haven't seen anyone correct his calculations.


"What, if anything, would you consider a serious critique of the bell curve?"

I'm supposed to argue with myself? The people who think Murray is a hack should supply the critique.
2.4.2007 8:59pm
MarkW (mail):
James Heckman is an economist; again psychometrics is out of his field.

Well, psychometrics involves engaging in statistical analysis, and Heckman is a Nobel Laureate in economics who specializes in econometrics, which makes him exceptionally well qualified to critique Murray's statistical analysis. Advanced statistical analysis techniques are pretty much the same in economics, psychology, sociology, or whatever.

And the sources I've cited go into abundant detail about the flaws in Murray's arguments. I am not obligated to reinvent the wheel for you, A. Zarkov.
2.4.2007 9:11pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Not that one needs to make the Murray bounce, but there are many academic criticisms of the Bell Curve including this one by hauser and Carter which, I suppose will be met by Zarkov's nth ad hominem argument.

Among other things, Hauser and Carter point out that
Much empirical analysis in The Bell Curve is based upon two data sets, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (a large sample of American youth, aged 14-22 in 1979, who have been followed annually since then) and the Children of the NLSY, which matches women in the NLSY with their children. Both data sets contain good measures of cognitive ability, but, say Hauser and Carter, are used poorly by Herrnstein and Murray. Most of the original analysis in the book consists of graphical displays of reduced-form logistic or linear regression equations in which some measure of educational or socioeconomic attainment, contact with the criminal justice system, or child-rearing success has been regressed on two variables, AFQT score in the IQ metric, adjusted for age at administration, and a composite measure of the socioeconomic status (SES) of the family of orientation. This measure is limited in content to father's and mother's educational attainments, father's occupational status, and family income in 1979, the first year of the NLSY. This is a minimally adequate specification, but it tends to understate the effects of social background by omitting such variables as number of siblings, intact family, rural or metropolitan origin, and regional origin. Thus, in Herrnstein and Murray's analysis, the social background variable becomes a straw man, largely used to highlight the effects of ability. From the study of stratification, it is known that the explanatory power of measured social background is modest, but it is also known that the effects are important and worth understanding. No measures of the explanatory power of the equations are reported in The Bell Curve, so that the inexpert reader never learns that most of the variation remains unexplained.
2.4.2007 9:49pm
Brian K (mail):
Zarkov,

You'll notice that I did not make any claims regarding mark's arguments nor did I make any claims regarding the validity of the bell curve or its criticisms. I did read his WSJ series which I found wholly unconvincing. If I can spot some fairly glaring flaws in his arguments I can only imagine what someone more experienced in the field can do. Having not read the bell curve I am very reluctant to comment on its validity based only on the WSJ articles as he may not have had the space to fully develop his arguments.

I do agree with you that mark bears the burden of proof as he is trying to refute your argument. However, if he takes your challenge than I also believe you are obligated to deal with his arguments in kind. You dismiss Ezra in part because he is not a psychometrician and you dismiss munger for the same reason. you are essentially saying that murray's arguments are better because he is a psychometrician. In other words, you are appealing to his authority which is the same thing you told mark not to do. your support of cognitive daily appears to be based on the same logic. Likewise with the "specific list of the professors who signed a public statement supporting the The Bell Curve" you mention the professors but make absolutely no mention their arguments. This is what my comments were concerning.

As for you six main points:
1) I have problems with the use of "accurately." Accuracy would depend on how you define intelligence and, based on my limited readings, I'm not convinced that IQ tests are the best way to measure it.
2) Based on personal experiences I have to disagree with one. A person's prior experiences, emotional outlook, and general disposition are incredibly important also. Intelligence helps, but is not the deciding factor.
3) This is likely only true given certain specific preconditions relating to environment. For example, malnutrition has an enormous effect on a person's intelligence. And even if a person's maximum level of intelligence is genetically determined environmental factors determine how much of that intelligence is ultimately obtained or used. Also, a range of 40-80% is not conclusive by any standard.
4) I don't know enough or have enough experience to agree or disagree.
5) same as 4
6) this is an opinion regarding policy and especially given the controversy surrounding the bell jar it is presumptuous to call murray's conclusions facts or demand that policy be based on them.

As a further note, a psychometrician may be an expert in intelligence and the testing of it, but that does not mean he is qualified to judge environment and social aspects of intelligence. He is not an "authority" in that field...a social anthropologist or environmental psychologist would be. Also my above comments concerning you six points are not meant to be damning evidence just things the way I see it.
2.4.2007 11:08pm
Lev:

Among other things, Hauser and Carter point out that


I am not sure from that excerpt what it is in The Bell Curve that Hause and Carter object to.

That there is such a thing as inheritable intelligence?

That there are a number of things that can be used to get a rough idea of intelligence?

That socioeconomic factors can prevent or interfere with the expression of intelligence?
2.4.2007 11:23pm
Lev:
This is from the beginning of
referred to before
. I have to say that even though the Hauser Carter conclusion it makes might be literally correct it is hard to see how "10 question" destroy the Murray Herrnstein proposal.


To test the proposition that the relationship between high
ability and incumbency in cognitively demanding occupations has increased over time, Hauser and Carter looked at data for 13,000 persons in the GSS from 1974 to 1993, years when the 10-item verbal ability test was administered. About 6 percent of employed persons aged 25-64 answered all ten questions correctly. The authors classified occupations into those that represented the cognitive elite, as defined by Herrnstein and Murray, versus all other occupations, and calculated the chances that persons in elite occupations answered ten questions correctly relative to the chances that persons in nonelite occupations answered ten questions correctly.[2] Over the twenty years covered by the GSS,
cognitive performance has been stable in nonelite occupations. In elite occupations, it is higher than in nonelite occupations, but appears to have declined slightly. The finding is unchanged if minorities are excluded from the sample, and still unchanged by a less stringent criterion of cognitive performance—getting nine out of ten words right. Thus the GSS data not only fail to support the Hernnstein-Murray thesis, but tend to contradict it:
if anything, there has been a slight decline in the difference in verbal ability between persons in elite and those in nonelite occupations.
2.4.2007 11:30pm
Randy R. (mail):
"6. The USA has been in denial regarding these facts, and in light of these findings a better public understanding of the nature of intelligence and its social correlates is necessary to guide future policy decisions in America. "

I have a problem with this. What Murray was aruging is that funds spent on educating black people, who have an inferior intelligence (in their view) was funds wasted. They agreed that there are of course exceptions, that SOME blacks have intelligence equal to or greater than whites. But this did not outweight the fact that most of them do not. And so spending equal portions of our educational dollar on blacks as we do with whites, is in their opinion, as waste of money. That's what they meant by the 'guiding future policy decisions in America."

Baloney, of course. All people are entitled to a good education, if not a first rate one. And to deny a good education on to an entire class of people based on dubious stats is perhaps unconstitutional, but certainly unfair. Especially to those who might benefit from it.

The Bell Curve was a thinly veiled racist tract. They tried to say that blacks are of inferior intelligence to whites and that we shouldn't waste so much money trying to educate them. It ignored so much that one doesn't know where to begin. However, Stephen Jay Gould refuted the entire book -- and he did it with just as many stats as they could muster.

So let's take a page from the conservatives notebook. We have one scholar, Murray, arguing that blacks are intellectually inferior, and another scholar arguing that there is no such notion. What do we do? let's teach the controversy!
2.4.2007 11:41pm
Brian K (mail):
For more information on the bell curve, its critics and its supporters this is a good website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bell_Curve

It appears to be where Zarkov is getting his information as he has direct word for word quotes from it.

The overall consensus seems to be that some of the books conclusions are true and that some are manufactured to support ideological viewpoints.
2.5.2007 12:00am
Lev:
Randy R

That's just so much horse manure.
2.5.2007 12:11am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Eli Rabett:

Aha so the issue is item 2 in my list: the relation between IQ and overall success in America. Hauser and Carter have some technical disputes with M &H. They have another data set they like better. The problem is that both IQ and parental social status predict income to some extent, but the two variables are correlated. We also know that personality traits also affect success, but we don't know how to measure them yet. But we do know from the work of Steven Pinker that much of personality along with IQ is inherited, so one way or another genes play an important part in one's future.

Finally it's worth noting that a special task force established by the Board of Scientific Affairs of the American Psychological Association reviewed the research in The Bell Curve and they are in accord with most of the conclusions of M &H. You can read the final report here. Note in particular the sections Social Status and Income and Job Performance. So how is Murray a "hack?"
2.5.2007 12:14am
Viscus (mail) (www):
I wanted to a couple of points. About Ted Frank. Another about reputation. Another about science.

Ted Frank, who one supposes fancies himself as a competant lawyer, seems to think that the disclosure of identities of anonymous commentators who have no affiliation with AEI is relevant. That would be incorrect. If an anonymous commentator did have an affiliation with AEI and did not disclose that affiliation, they would be guilty of the same dishonesty that Ted Frank was guilty of earlier. It is the affiliation with the organization whose credibility is at stake that is relevant, not the identity of the speaker.

Strictly speaking, "logic" is seperate from reputation, and can be evaluated independently. However, logic does not exist in isolation from subjective judgment calls. For example, what premises should be adopted, what objectives should be pursued, and how much weight to put on various pieces of evidence are all judgment calls, allowing for some degree of informed discretion and reasonable disagreement among experts.

Clearly, reputation and bias is quite relevant when evaluating an analysis that depends on discretionary judgment calls. So, for example, say I wanted to dispute the data showing increasing income inequality. Say that, quite legitimately, there are some limitations with census data or data from the IRS, or any data source whatsoever. It is a matter of judgment, not merely logic, to assign an appropriate amount of weight to such limitations. Logically and objectively speaking, there are limitations to the data. One can disagree with another's assessment about how much weight to put on such data, but one cannot prove another logically wrong who advocates putting more weight on those limitations than you would.

This is why reputation is so important. Those who have an agenda other than the truth cannot be trusted to make judgment calls that depend on the exercise of some discretion. They will always weigh their discretion in favor of their own interests.

This, fundamentally, is why intellectual prostitution, as advanced by filthy organizations like the AEI is so disturbing. They enter the picture and distort legitimate academic debate concerning uncertainties that must be resolved using judgment rather than pure logic. They want these judgment calls resolved with reference to their selfish interests, rather than with reference to the truth.

One's judgment should only be influenced by a desire to come to the truth, not to advance an agenda.

In conclusion, given the clear tone of the letter sent by AEI, where it makes it's illegitimate desire to emphasize limitations crystal clear to anyone with a brain, we can conclude that AEI is an organization not to be trusted. It is an organization that tries to use its money to influence debate in a certain direction. And that direction is based on interest and advancing a particular agenda other than the pure truth. We can further infer that those who receive money from the AEI are probabilistically likely to skew their judgment (but not their logic, since skewed logic is too easy to detect) in a direction the AEI would find favorable. We can conclude that "scholars" who work for the AEI are, probabilistically speaking, intellectual whores, and should not be considered for an appointment to any academic institution that is not already obligated to house them due to the institution of tenure.

If you want to talk about someone on the libertarian side whose judgment we can trust (even if one can legitimately disagree with that judgment at various times) I would talk about someone like Eugene Volokh. He will gain more respect from non-libertarians than those who decide to sell themselves out to the AEI or other such filthy organizations. He has a well deserved reputation for intellectual honesty. Those of you who do not think that is important, because all that matters is "logic" are really missing something. Reputation matters, because judgment matters. Judgment matters even in scientific endeavors.
2.5.2007 12:15am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Randy R:

You are presenting a number of straw man arguments. As far as I know Murray has never said it's a waste of money to education blacks. If you know differently than share it with us. No one including Murray denies that bad nutrition in childhood will lower IQ. What Murray is saying if I understand him correctly is you can't expect everyone to excel at cognitively intensive tasks. So we shouldn't try to teach everyone in high school calculus or perhaps even algebra. That does not mean we shouldn't try and teach everyone reading and arithmetic and other basic subjects. The key word is everyone.

"We have one scholar, Murray, arguing that blacks are intellectually inferior, and another scholar arguing that there is no such notion."

The black-white IQ difference is not in dispute. The gap is evident in early childhood and persists to adulthood. The dispute is over the cause and whether it can be closed.
2.5.2007 12:40am
MarkW (mail):
you are essentially saying that murray's arguments are better because he is a psychometrician.

And of course, the irony of such an argument is that Murray isn't a psychometrician--his degree is in political science.
2.5.2007 1:07am
A. Zarkov (mail):
If you want the full dataset for the The Bell Curve you can get it here.

This site has both text and Excel files.

For a free book on The g Factor go here
2.5.2007 1:11am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Shorter Viscus:

They disagree with me, so they're evil, so I don't have to bother trying to refute them. Oh, and I'm not bright enough to look at the link next to the person's name to realize that Ted did identify himself.
2.5.2007 2:04am
Brian K (mail):
Nice strawman david
2.5.2007 3:50am
TokyoTom (mail):
Jonathan, nice header to your brief post. How about this one instead, based on statements by Green, Frum and DeMuth?

"Does AEI finally desire to reengage in 'a meaningful discussion of what we might do to protect future generations from climate variability', or to anathemize 'computer-driven horror stories' and 'the demon-haunted world of the left'?"

The AEI protests too much, and you hardly do them a favor by defending them. Instead, what they richly deserve is a boot in the ass for disengaging from meaningful debate during the Bush administration and for continuing a counter-productive, partisan approach that makes it difficult to shift discussion to common ground.

Hayward has recently some very insightful things to say about the miscasting of environmental problems by the left and the corresponding over-reaction from the right. I imagine you've seen his piece, Is "Conservative Environmentalist" an Oxymoron?, where he concludes that " the sweeping portentous language we hear from orthodox environmentalists ... is rather a reflection of the unhappy truth that there are a lot of environmental problems, especially on a global scale, about which we simply don't know what to do. Even the problem of climate change, which in the abstract appears straightforward, is obviously proving very hard to deal with. What about much more complicated problems like species extinction and habitat loss? There is scarcely the beginning of an answer to this problem on the global scale."

And Ken Green has recently said a number of things that make sense, starting with the statement that the Guardian quoted about the need to side-step a "polarized debate" in order to move towards "intelligent policy." He has also indicated that "whether liberal or conservative, thoughtful analysts have recognized ... for over a decade now", that "humans are probably causing some climate change, that warming will likely continue, and that warming might pose serious challenges for human societies and ecosystems" so any epiphany by Bush "will be a bit late".

Green has rightly indicated that - given the fact that much climate change is unavoidable - we need to start paying attention to both adaptation and to possible technical approaches, and that "the best way to protect ecosystems — both ours and others'— is to make sure they are healthy and resilient, and the best way to do that is to sustain and promote wealth-building institutions such as free markets, property rights, and the rule of law at home and around the world."

But even as Green points to necessary tasks and decries polarization, he belies his own words by turning his attention away from adaptation, towards undermining the IPCC's conclusions and towards attacking and blaming enviros. Where is a serious focus on the difficult tasks of adaptation - especially adaptation in the poorer countries that will suffer the most from climate change? Where is the discussion of the costs of finding technologies to attack climate change, the role of government in funding them and the tough aspects of global cost-sharing that have plagued mitigation efforts?

Instead, we are treated to bloviating like this from Green that blames a frozen policy mechanism on a "a lethal coalition" of people who have been locked out of the corridors of political power for years and suggests that the solution will be found ii "more brave scientists [are willing] to step up to the plate, [to] disavow the hunt for ever-scarier scenarios".

It's all a bit too much - both hypocritical and self-deluded. As if the right has no responsibility for the policy blockage, and has nothing to be embarrassed of in its rather shameless embrace of the corporate statism on behalf of those who benefit from inaction on cliamte change, with a niggardly disregard for long-term problems even as we rush to throw trillions down a hole that the arms industry is happy to keep digging.

My plea to the right - please spare us the self-righteousness, and start acting like adults who are genuinely interested in the welfare of the nation rather than in defending the interests of the elites who misuse government. Hopefully then the left will start to listen, and we can start to seriously address the global problems of climate change, sustainable development and unregulated exploitation of common, open-access resources.
2.5.2007 3:54am
Ted Frank (www):
MarkW writes: "And Ted, Mark is in fact my name."

Ohhhhhh... Mark W. I guess I have no basis for calling you anonymous then, because with a google search on your e-mail address, and then a google search on the name and city that that google search reveals, we can figure out that you're Mark W. of Spokane Falls Community College. That fact isn't what makes your argument for judging any individual work from an institution by the cover of its book wrong, but it is a fact that makes that argument ironic.

Viscus writes: Ted Frank, who one supposes fancies himself as a competant lawyer, seems to think that the disclosure of identities of anonymous commentators who have no affiliation with AEI is relevant.

No, sir.

I noted that it's an ironic double standard that a commenter who is anonymous such that we have nothing verifiable about his identity is complaining that (1) one cannot trust anything that comes from AEI simply because it comes from AEI; and argues that (2) a commenter who correctly identifies himself as "Ted Frank" and with an URL that provides some of his writings and his biography with his current affiliations is providing "dishonest" disclosure.

I don't think your identity is relevant to the quality of your arguments. Your arguments fail because they're of low quality, not because you're anonymous.

It's you who's arguing that ad hominem is a per se refutation, which is a well-known logical fallacy to begin with. It's you who is arguing that a commenter who doesn't disclose every fact about himself in a preface to a comment is "dishonest," a position that is immediately contradicted by the fact that you identify yourself only as "viscus," which makes either you dishonest for failing to disclose, or your argument dishonest for failing to apply it consistently.

That you see fit to misrepresent my argument instead of respond to it also does not speak well of your argument.

One's judgment should only be influenced by a desire to come to the truth

Precisely. Which is why, when you have no evidence that AEI's research is uninterested in the truth, your argument that an argument should be evaluated by downgrading it because it comes from the truth-seeking AEI shows that your judgment is poorly influenced by your ideological biases rather than by a desire to come to the truth.

If you want to talk about someone on the libertarian side whose judgment we can trust (even if one can legitimately disagree with that judgment at various times) I would talk about someone like Eugene Volokh. He will gain more respect from non-libertarians than those who decide to sell themselves out to the AEI or other such filthy organizations.

That's interesting, because (as I mentioned earlier in this thread) AEI wrote an honorarium check to Eugene Volokh to reimburse him for his time and expenses for speaking at an AEI event in December. It wasn't much money, to be sure, working out to a fraction of what Volokh bills at Mayer Brown, but neither is $10,000 for the magnitude of work AEI was soliciting researchers at the top of their field to do.

Do you think Volokh's views are bought and tainted for all time? (I sure don't. I disagreed with his paper before he came to AEI to present it, and that fact didn't make him pull it from the Harvard Law Review, even after we paid for his plane ticket.) If not, then why is AEI money automatically corrupting?
2.5.2007 6:31am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Is climate change the most pressing geophysical hazard? On a 20-year time horizon the answer is no. One or both of the major faults in the San Francisco Bay Area will have a major rupture (Richter >7) with probability 2/3 over the next 20 years according to the USGS. Considering the population density and the lack of preparation this is going to be a major disaster with tremendous loss of life and property damage (>$300 billion). Earthquakes are not an abstract hazard, they've happened in the past and they will surely happen again. The New Madrid Earthquake (Richter >8) in January1812 was the largest quake ever recorded in contiguous US. Actually it was a series of quakes strongly felt over an area of 50,000 square miles with after shocks lasting through the winter of 1812. Like the Bay Area the population density in New Madrid is far greater today than 1812. USGS predicts a 90% chance of a Richter > 7 quake with 50 years. There is little preparation for this event. Then we have the Cascadia Subduction Zone fault in the Pacific Northwest, which is a giant offshore fault that stretches from Vancouver to northern California. It could produce a Richter >9 quake causing a giant tsunami that would wipe out the coastal area all along the Pacific Northwest. The last event was January 1700, which generated a tsunami that devastated Japan. Data suggests the return period of 300 to 600 years, so this is something to worry about over the next 100 years. Moving up the hazard scale to a planet busting size we have super volcanoes. The last super volcano was Toba, 74,000 years ago that was 10,000 times the size of Mt. St. Helens. While there are only a handful of super volcanoes in the world, one of the largest is under Yellowstone National Park with an eruption cycle is about 600,000 years, but the last eruption was 640,000 years ago. Toba put out so much ash that it probably pushed mankind to almost the point of extinction. A Yellowstone eruption will push us over.

That's a very short list of geophysical hazards that have happened whose physics we understand. We just can't predict exactly when. Climate change caused by advancing co2 concentration is at this point a theoretical possibility of unknown size. Even if you believe UPCC we don't know whether the warming will be 1.5 deg C or 4.5 deg C over the next 100 years for a co2 doubling. If we're going to spend gigantic sums of money on geophysical hazards which one should get the most attention?
2.5.2007 7:02am
Brian K (mail):
Ted,

there are some major differences that you refuse to acknowledge.

1) the anonymity is not the problem. the problem is that you work for AEI. You should have stated it explicitly in your first post that you work for AEI. It is obviously not general knowledge that you work for them because if it was, no one would have a problem. A link to a website does not make it clear or obvious as it assumes that every reader of every comment bothers to follow those link or perform google searches on peoples e-mail. This is not a valid assumption. You need to state your affiliation for the same reason that stock brokers need to state whether or not they own the stock they are recommended or that marketers need to say "this is a paid advertisement". Likewise, I would expect anyone who works for a group that is consistently critical of AEI to state their affiliation.

2) The difference between the global warming scientists and your honorarium to volock is a difference of timing. In the latter case, volock had already written the paper and you were only paying for his travel to and from AEI's symposium, an entirely reasonable thing to do. In the former case you are paying them to write the article. This is not an insignificant difference. In the latter case it is impossible for you to bias the results of the article because you only entered the picture AFTER it was written. In the former case it is entirely possible for you to bias the authors BEFORE they have written the article. A fact that the wording of your request virtually ensures. If you don't realize that saying "here's a check for $10,000 to write a report critical of the IPCC report" would bias the authors then you seriously need to read up on the psychological impact of gifts.

It is possible that the scientists would have wrote a report critical of the IPCC on their own. However it is entirely likely that the size of the honorarium/bribe would cause them to write a report more critical than it would have been otherwise.

Your claims that such a large amount of money is necessary to pay the scientists for their time is untrue. Any scientist (if not all then a significant amount) in the global warming field would undoubtedly read the IPCC report and draw up their own conclusions. 1) it would not take a significant amount of work to write down their conclusions and submit it as a critique. even if it takes a solid month, a $10000 payment amounts to a $120000/year when the average salary is $90k public and $110k private*. $10000 is in no way a small amount and can be reasonably expected to influence the author. 2) many scientists would undoubtedly write reports on their own, both supportive and critical. it would not be hard to pick some of these reports that you like and pay the professor a small sum to present it at whatever event you have. This is not only a problem with AEI but with all ideologically based think tanks on both the left and right.



*http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d03/tables/dt243.asp
2.5.2007 7:27am
TokyoTom (mail):
Jonathan: Sorry, got a bit excited there. Perhaps the real story is not in the first letter that you have reproduced, but in the "second, more recent one covering broader policy issues as well" the DeMuth refers to. Can you post that one for us as well? Maybe it shows that the AEI is really interested in a constructive policy discussion, and that all the talk of aiding "adaptation" in poorer countries is serious, and not simply bait and switch.
2.5.2007 7:38am
Brian K (mail):
Zarkov, you are assuming that science and politics is a zero sum game. It is not. The same scientists who study global warming are not the same scientists that study earthquakes or volcanoes. There is also no reason to assume that discussion of global warming precludes discussion of other natural disasters. I also know for a fact (having lived there myself) that san francisco and california have disaster plans in place just in case an earthquake occurs. whether or not they'll work (think new orleans) is a different story.
2.5.2007 7:41am
advisory opinion:
Sad isn't it, how these ad hominem logic mangling apologists bend over to justify the fallacy.
2.5.2007 8:32am
advisory opinion:

In conclusion, given the clear tone of the letter sent by AEI, where it makes it's illegitimate desire to emphasize limitations crystal clear to anyone with a brain, we can conclude that AEI is an organization not to be trusted.


Given the clear tone of the comment sent by "viscus", where he makes his illegitimate desire to emphasize limitations of the AEI letter to anyone with a brain, we can conclude that "viscus" is a person not to be trusted.

Too easy.
2.5.2007 9:05am
advisory opinion:

In conclusion, given the clear tone of the letter sent by AEI, where it makes it's illegitimate desire to emphasize limitations crystal clear to anyone with a brain, we can conclude that AEI is an organization not to be trusted.



Given the clear tone of the comment sent by "viscus", where he makes his illegitimate desire to emphasize limitations of the AEI letter crystal clear to anyone with a brain, we can conclude that "viscus" is a person not to be trusted.

Too easy.
2.5.2007 9:07am
Ted Frank (www):
Brian K:

1. Whether I work for AEI is irrelevant to the comment in question. In my 2/3 6:20 pm post, either my interpretation of the Guardian article and defense of Adler's characterization of the article is fair or it isn't fair. It isn't any more or less fair because I work for AEI. And it's not like "Ted Frank" is a sock-puppet identity that hides who I am or my comment was a non-substantive attempt to create a bandwagon effect or drown out debate.

2. "In the latter case it is impossible for you to bias the results of the article because you only entered the picture AFTER it was written."

That's not correct: arrangements were made to host the event before the article was finalized, and I presume I'm in the acknowledgements because Eugene modified his article to reflect some (but not all) of my comments to the draft I saw.

You write that AEI said "here's a check for $10,000 to write a report critical of the IPCC report," but that is a mischaracterization of the actual request, which is right there at the top of the page.

These aren't average scientists, so I fail to see the relevance of the average salary.

"it would not be hard to pick some of these reports that you like and pay the professor a small sum to present it at whatever event you have. "

We do that, too, but if one wants to produce a book on the subject, one can't simply wait for people to come to you (not least because then the article likely has already been published somewhere else) and must commission articles in the first place. You're essentially arguing that thinktanks should not be allowed to produce any original works, which is a self-refuting argument that demonstrates your ideological bias.
2.5.2007 10:10am
Brian K (mail):
1) I never said your comments were irrelevant or that your arguments are worthless because you are affiliated with AEI. I only said you should have made it clear that you are making comments and arguments in regards to your employer. I expect this of everyone, you are not a special circumstance.

2) my mistake. from your previous post it did not sound like you played a role in developing the article. and i have no problem with your involvement. I expect volock, any scientist or lawyer or anyone else to modify his argument when presenting contrary evidence. you also said that obly reimbursed volock for his travel expenses. this differs from paying someone to write a scientific report espousing a specific predetermined viewpoint.

"7,500 to 10,000 words" is not a book. near as i can tell from the internet, the average length of a book is tenfold greater than what you requested.


You're essentially arguing that thinktanks should not be allowed to produce any original works, which is a self-refuting argument that demonstrates your ideological bias


What exactly is my ideological bias? That I'm anti-think tank? That's not an ideology nor is it true. I generally don't take their arguments seriously esp since most of what they put out is crap. but that only holds true for some think tanks as some create very good work, although i may not agree with the conclusions. I also have no problem with original work when it's portrayed as opinion (which it almost always is as most think tanks are designed to advance specific conclusions and policies) or when they are not portraying bought and paid for science reviews as independent research. The portrayal need not be explicit.

To further elaborate on my reasonings, I make this argument from a practical perspective. A scientist in the field is perfectly capable of differentiating between ideological crap, intellectual whoredom, and genuine research and genuine critiques. The media, politicians and the general public are not. The purpose of seminars, conferences, press meetings, etc is not to inform highly learned academics about things going on in their own field of study but to sway public opinion and influence policy (the goal of AEI and similar think tanks). You are paying for a paper specifically to influence debate, which is intellectually dishonest. This sentence from the letter makes clear what type of paper you are looking for and what its intended purpose is: "We are hoping to sponsor a paper by you and Prof. North that thoughtfully explores the limitations of climate model outputs as they pertain to the development of climate policy (as opposed to the utility of climate models in more theoretical climate research)". You don't care about the science you care about policy. Any paper by the scientists would be their opinion as to how the climate models should affect policy. An opinion that was paid for with $10000 and as such it should be made clear that the opinion was paid for by AEI. The two letters above lead the reader to believe that the paper would be used to draw policy conclusions from and will not be presented as an opinion in and of itself.

Do not broaden my argument and refute that. It won't help you. It is not what I am arguing. My arguments are designed to address only a fairly narrow set of circumstances.
2.5.2007 11:01am
Brian K (mail):
It should read:

"I expect volock, any scientist or lawyer or anyone else to modify his argument when presentED with contrary evidence.

It doesn't necessarily hold true as written in the original post.
2.5.2007 11:03am
Francis (mail):
Mr. Frank: you appear uneducable as to the fact that some people read the second paragraph of the AEI letter as deliberately seeking slanted analysis.

imagine if the second and third para had read something like the following:

In order to ensure that the analyses of IPCC 4 remain above reproach, AEI will have no editorial oversight over the review essays. AEI will only assemble the essays, submit them to the IPCC for a 45-day comment period and publish the essays and the comments.

AEI has considerable respect for the integrity with which your lab approaches the characterization of climate modeling data. Recognizing that preparing a review paper on this topic will demand substantial time and effort on your part, AEI is willing to pay an honorarium of $10,000. Please note that, in the interest of depoliticizing science, the honorarium will be paid on the delivery of the review essay irrespective of content and that AEI will publish your essay regardless of its conclusions.

now that would be honorable.
2.5.2007 11:17am
Randy R. (mail):
"The black-white IQ difference is not in dispute. The gap is evident in early childhood and persists to adulthood." That's what Murray argues. Glad we agree on that. However, other researchers have concluded that the tests for IQ are biased towards whites, that blacks have the potential for doing just as well given the same environments as whites, and so on.

"What Murray is saying if I understand him correctly is you can't expect everyone to excel at cognitively intensive tasks. So we shouldn't try to teach everyone in high school calculus or perhaps even algebra. That does not mean we shouldn't try and teach everyone reading and arithmetic and other basic subjects. The key word is everyone.

Exactly. And since we now know, according to Murray, that blacks have an inferior IQ vis-a-vis whites, then why should we spend so much in terms of resources teaching high school calculus or perhaps even algebra to blacks, when most of them can't understand it?

That's his argument, which some people, including me, consider baloney. In fact, given the proper sort of attention, blacks are equally capable of comprehending calculus (as numerous teachers have proven) as whites.

So what's Murray's bottomline? He argues about 'future guidlines'. What are they? If it isn't to say, spend less resources on educating blacks, then what else could be asking for?
2.5.2007 11:23am
JosephSlater (mail):
Wow, more than a usual number of digressions in this thread. Anyway, as someone on the liberal side of things, I don't have a problem with think-tanks doing research to challenge conventional wisdom. Look at the science at the end of the day and evaluate it. On the other hand, one would have to be naive indeed to think the AEI wasn't looking for folks to find flaws.

More broadly, while I'll admit that I'm no expert on global warming, it must be increasingly distressing to be on the denier side of this. First, the claim was there was no warming, then the claim was, well, maybe there's warming, but it's not man made. . . . Now both those claims are minority positions, at best. Kind of like, "Mission accomplished" morphed into "they're not reporting all the good news," to "OK, it's not perfect, but talk of civil war is leftist claptrap," to today.

One wonders why a scientific issue of great importance to us all has gotten so politicized. I guess the right wing hates the idea of such massive externalities that could justificy government intervention, and the left wing sees this as proof that unregulated capitalism doesn't work. It would be nice if we could put that aside and figure out what to do about the problem: feasible solutions aren't obvious to this admitted non-expert.
2.5.2007 11:30am
advisory opinion:
you appear uneducable as to the fact that some people read the second paragraph of the AEI letter as deliberately seeking slanted analysis.


So? It could just as easily be read as a call to critique slanted analysis. How you read it is determined by your own preconceived biases. Do not now pretend that you are party to some sort of ersatz objectivity that your ideological opponents lack. This is just another mode of ad hominem, and could just as well apply to yourself.

Which is why JHA and others have tried drumming this into thick skulls again and again: that motivations are _irrelevant_ in science, or to the validity of the argument, or in the pursuit of truth. What matters is the work on the merits.

This is elementary logic. A pity that some people have to engage in elaborate games of sophistry to justify what is really a very basic logical fallacy. Shame.
2.5.2007 11:31am
David M. Nieporent (www):
It doesn't necessarily hold true as written in the original post.
That's okay; neither does the rest of what you wrote. The claim that trying to influence debate is "intellectually dishonest" is loony.

It depends how one tries to influence debate. If one tries to influence debate by "thoughtfully explor[ing] the limitations" of one's side's view and writing a "well-supported... discussion" of "which elements... have demonstrated predictive value" and which don't, then one is being intellectually honest.

If one tries to influence debate by trying to shout down opposing views by saying that only establishment-funded research is legitimate but think-tank-funded research is not, the one is being intellectually dishonest (*).

Your claim that AEI is asking for "opinion" here, as if the question were what policies should be adopted, is also misleading. AEI -- based on the information we have in the published letter -- is asking for a scientific assessment of the validity of the models for applied purposes. That's not "opinion," except to the extent one uses the term "opinion" to apply to the results of any scientific analysis.

An opinion that was paid for with $10000 and as such it should be made clear that the opinion was paid for by AEI.
Uh, AEI is going to publish the analysis. I think even the dimmest bulb will be able to figure out that AEI "paid for" something that says "published by AEI" on the cover, since most people realize that prominent scientific experts rarely work for free.



(*) The claim that one isn't against think tanks, but one just doesn't think they should be allowed to pay people for their work is plain ol' dishonest. You clearly are against think tanks. And that clearly is an ideological view; it's only those on the left who think that "think tank" is a dirty word.
2.5.2007 11:41am
advisory opinion:
Look at the science at the end of the day and evaluate it. On the other hand, one would have to be naive indeed to think the AEI wasn't looking for folks to find flaws.


Exactly. But no "on the other hand". It's part of the scientific process to "find flaws" in existing theories. One would be naive indeed not to realise that the history of science is the history of attempted refutations (every experiment or immanent criticism is just such an attempt) of hypotheses.

Motivations are irrelevant.
2.5.2007 11:43am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Mr. Frank: you appear uneducable as to the fact that some people read the second paragraph of the AEI letter as deliberately seeking slanted analysis.
Francis: what you ignore is that this letter wasn't written to "some people." It wasn't intended to be a press release, so how "some people" in the general public interprets the letter is an irrelevant fact. It was written to specific people, who presumably know whether they're willing to slant their own work or not.

Note that nowhere in the letter does it say, "We'll pay you if we like your conclusions." If a scientist is honest, he doesn't need the disclaimer you propose, and if he isn't, then the disclaimer you propose won't help.
2.5.2007 11:47am
P.K. (mail):
Being environmental scientist, let me be perfectly clear with everyone. There are only about four possible sources for the funding of environmental research: industry, government, NGOs (more often activist organizations like EDF than groups like AEI), and litigation. Each funding source has its own peculiar biases - either due to the concept of "he who pays the piper calls the tune" or due to the concept of "he who wants a particular tune hires the right piper." A person who wishes to make an objective evaluation of any scientific issue better be prepared to evaluate the inherent biases associated with the scientific information available on a topic. This isn't some evil conspiracy to distort the truth. This is a product of human nature.

This is why it is very disturbing when people like Heidi Cullen at the Weather Channel suggest that any meteorologist who disagrees that humans are causing global warming should lose their professional certification. This silences alternative arguments that may be perfectly valid. If the evidence for something is so overwhelming, why worry about contrary opinions? You only silence people when you are afraid they will convince others they are right.
2.5.2007 12:21pm
Brian K (mail):
David,

1) You're exactly write that it is how one attempts to influence that is important. Which is exactly why I am careful to describe the circumstances. It is intellectually dishonest to PAY a scientist to create a paper espousing a specific viewpoint. Francis did a good of explaining what I was getting at. AEI is not asking for a general study, they are asking for a study that will push their agenda. It is AEI being intellectually dishonest and not necessarily the researches, who are only dishonest of they are swayed to alter their opinion as a result of the honorarium.


relevant quote: "as they pertain to the development of climate policy"
- policy is outside of the purview of most scientists, esp those of the hard sciences, as policy is dependant on much more than the science alone (economics, sociology, constituents beliefs, practical considerations, etc...). The scientist can tell you what must be done to achieve the desired changes (i.e. the goal). policy determines what is the best way to achieve this effect (i.e. how to reach the goal). this at best is a setup for the "appeal to authority" fallacy. "scientist A said that method X is better than method Y, therefore we should base our policy on method X". at worse it is an attempt to manufacture dissent where there is very little and prevent the formation of good policy.

i'd like to continue this discussion as it is interesting and i have more to say concerning your post, however i have a final in about 10 min and need to get going. take care everyone. until later.
2.5.2007 12:22pm
JosephSlater (mail):
I wrote: Look at the science at the end of the day and evaluate it. On the other hand, one would have to be naive indeed to think the AEI wasn't looking for folks to find flaws.

Advisory Opinion wrote: Exactly. But no "on the other hand". It's part of the scientific process to "find flaws" in existing theories. One would be naive indeed not to realise that the history of science is the history of attempted refutations (every experiment or immanent criticism is just such an attempt) of hypotheses.

Motivations are irrelevant.


Ideally, yes. In the real world, not always. Because, as some folks have already posted, at least SOME "studies" are intentionally designed to create a faux "controversy" where none really exists among serious/neutral/informed folks, solely for political purposes. So one side can appeal to the public and say, "see, some 'scientists' think the earth is only 4,000 years old" or something like that, so "let's teach the controversy."

I'm not saying that's necessarily what AEI is doing here. I'm just saying you would indeed have to be naive if you don't think some folks are doing that on some issues, and therefore looking at motivations can sometimes be relevant.
2.5.2007 1:05pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Randy R:

"Glad we agree on that. However, other researchers have concluded that the tests for IQ are biased towards whites, that blacks have the potential for doing just as well given the same environments as whites, and so on."

The B-W gap has been verified many times over for many decades. Almost everyone agrees that IQ is between 50% and 80% heritable. How much of the gap is caused by environment is what's disputed. But it's only disputed by a very small number of people. If you design a test that shows no group differences then it has no predictive value. The tests that involve the least amount of cultural influence such as the progressive matrix test tend to show the biggest gaps.

"Exactly. And since we now know, according to Murray, that blacks have an inferior IQ vis-a-vis whites, then why should we spend so much in terms of resources teaching high school calculus or perhaps even algebra to blacks, when most of them can't understand it?"

Are you telling me that anyone with an IQ of 100 (black or white) is going to learn calculus with the same efficiency as someone with an IQ of 115? The B-W difference is only a difference in mean IQ, it does not apply to every member of the group. We don't teach calculus to groups, we teach it to individuals. No one is suggesting we bar blacks from calculus classes. But if we make calculus a requirement for graduation from high school, and try to teach it to everyone, then a whole lot of people both black and white are not going to graduate.

"That's his argument, which some people, including me, consider baloney. In fact, given the proper sort of attention, blacks are equally capable of comprehending calculus (as numerous teachers have proven) as whites."

What do you mean by the proper kind of attention? Some individual teachers say they can teach anyone calculus regardless of their IQ, but that's yet to shown in any kind of objective way. What you keep trying to say is IQ does not matter, it really doesn't predict anything. You are free to believe that if you want. You should be able to make a lot of money with your knowledge of the IQ fallacy. Just bet someone that the group mean grade of low IQ students in a calculus class is going to be the same (with sampling error) as the group mean grade of high IQ students. I'll take the bet.

It would be helpful if you had actually read the Bell Curve, and knew something about statistics before you formed an opinion about a book you've never seen.
2.5.2007 1:06pm
Ted Frank (www):
Brian K writes "'7,500 to 10,000 words' is not a book."

As the letter from Green indicates, AEI is looking for a "series of review essays," which in turn sounds to me like a book or monograph that includes contributions from several authors.

As others have noted, your other arguments similarly suffer from premises that are contrary to reality.
2.5.2007 1:06pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
James K. Glassman at AEI published a ridiculous book called DOW 36,000 in 1999 at the height of the 1990s bull market for stocks. The book was a joke in the finance community. Of course the stockbrokers loved it because it generated more buy orders and more commissions for them. At about the same time Robert Schiller at Yale published "Irrational Exuberance." Glassman said stocks were going to shoot up within a few years, while Schiller predicted a bear market sometime in the next 5 years. Now of course Schiller was right, and anyone with any sense and knowledge in 1999 knew it at the time. Anyone could read a reasoned critique of Glassman's DOW theory. Knowledgeable people were not afraid of Glassman, no one wanted to shut him up. I don't know if Schiller ever debated Glassman, but that would have been good entertainment. Incidentally DOW 36,000 now sells used for 1 cent at Amazon.

So why are so many people afraid of the AEI paper tiger? The faux controversy? That's a lot of hooey. Any junk that comes out of an AEI sponsored review of the IPPCC report would get instantly savaged in the media, in academia, in Congress. Congress would probably call him in for a grilling. The AEI author's career would be an instant shambles. Confident people don't fear review-- they welcome it. They welcome the chance to debate. I suspect many people are not so confident about IPCC, they are really in a "State of Fear."
2.5.2007 1:35pm
A.C.:
I'm still confused about what ideological bias the AEI is accused of having. They tend to be in favor of a strong private sector and limited government, but (1) it has been a while since that position had a clear ideological link to any one group of elected politicians, and (2) it's so broad that it becomes meaningless when you get down to the level of specific policies. It's like having a mission statement of helping the poor and upholding the dignity of all individuals. You could shoehorn pretty much any policy recommendation into a mission statement like that, because there is little consensus on what helps the poor or upholds dignity. (Abortion, anyone?)

Some people here seem to be assuming that AEI will advocate policies that ExxonMobile likes because that company donates some money to AEI. But who else donates? Does anyone know if any insurance companies are donors? I don't have time to find out, but I did see someone from State Farm on the list of directors AEI publishes on its web site. The insurance industry has a stake in the climate change debate that is VERY different from the stake that the oil industry has, even though both industries are dominated by large firms. And what about donors representing all the other industries in the economy? Being in the private sector, and even being a big company in the private sector, doesn't necessarily indicate a specific policy preference. Ask the companies that run nuclear power plants whether they would like carbon regulations that makes coal (i.e. the competition) more expensive.

Just out of curiousity, does anyone EVER read the Guardian without having flashbacks to debates that took place in their college dorms?
2.5.2007 1:55pm
Barry Kearns (mail):

I expect volock, any scientist or lawyer or anyone else to modify his argument when presenting contrary evidence.


And I'd expect that at a minimum, any churlish drone using this site to malign an organization which has granted honoraria to the host... should at least show the basic decency to spell the host's name correctly.

It's right there in the window title, the address bar, and at the top of the page. All you had to do was GLANCE UPWARD.

Once is a slip. Four times is negligence.
2.5.2007 1:57pm
Stuart Buck (mail):
Remember note that the *head* of the IPCC -- Rajendra Pachauri -- was quoted as saying that Bjorn Lomborg (whose book on the environment was skeptical of the cost-effectiveness of various anti-global-warming measures) was akin to Hitler.


1) This is far more radical and biased than anything in the AEI letter;

2) It was said by someone with immeasurably more power and influence over the global warming debate than AEI; and hence,

3) People might justifiably be a bit wary that scientists who want the money and prestige of associating with the IPCC would have an incentive to slant their analysis to avoid being called Hitler themselves.

Not saying that this is happening, of course; I'm not qualified to make that determination. Still, if you're worried about the AEI letter, and if you're evenhanded on this issue, you've got to be much more worried about the people in charge of IPCC.
2.5.2007 2:01pm
Francis (mail):
from the link, Pachauri's statement: "Lomborg's claim that the world cannot afford to save indigenous peoples like the Inuits from the consequences of global warming put him in line with Adolf Hitler"

not necessarily as bad as Mr. Buck makes out.

AC, my concern is not ideological bias. my concern is that, upon reading the letter, it appeared that AEI was deliberately seeking negative reviews of the IPCC report, regardless of whether the negative review was merited. This thread has demonstrated to me that I'm not alone in this concern. So, despite Mr. Frank's best efforts, there is a reasonable argument to be made that AEI is not looking for the best science, but science that supports their viewpoint that government should not regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

given AEI's past history, including its support of the Iraq war, the Dow 36,000 book and the Bell Curve, among others, there is, then, an argument that AEI's claim that it is seeking to highlight the strength of the IPCC report is disingenuous.
2.5.2007 2:42pm
A.C.:
For further reference, spiked-online.com has some interesting articles on this subject today. They are based in the UK, where climate change seems to have taken on even more of a religious quality than it has over here. The authors point out how bleak a lot of this debate is, arguing that it becomes anti-human at times. And they emphasize that we can't even guess what technologies will be invented in the next 100 years, any more than someone alive in 1907 could have predicted what has happened in the 100 years since then.

I can't find an exact date for the first gas station in the US, but I did find a web site claiming that the second one was built in 1907. Makes you think...
2.5.2007 2:54pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
not necessarily as bad as Mr. Buck makes out.
It isn't? On what planet?

Bjorn Lomborg says that it may make a lot more sense, economically, to pay Eskimos to move to higher ground than to shut down the world economy so they don't drown, and that makes him like Hitler?
2.5.2007 3:22pm
advisory opinion:
We're all Hitlers now. Was Coase Hitler?
2.5.2007 3:44pm
Ken Green (mail):
FULL DISCLOSURE: Yes, this IS the Ken Green who works at AEI.

What astounds me in this entire flap is that people seem have:

a) Missed the word POLICY in the offer letter to possible participants in our project though it was used 6 times;

b) Missed the fact that by inviting mainstream climate scientists to participate we were clearly not seeking biased papers;

c) Seem to be unable to Google me, and see that I have acknowledged the reality of climate change, and some human culpability since I first wrote about it in 1997;

d) Don't realize that reading about 4,000 pages of scientific material, then writing a referenced rigorous policy study, would probably take nearly a month's effort; and

e) Haven't got the brains to look at AEI's recent publications on climate change which would show that the group is anything but the administrations "cosa nostra."

As an earlier poster asked, would it be "bribery" to pay a lawyer to read and write about a Supreme Court case? Would it be "bribery" to pay a physician to write an article evaluating the results of a giant clinical trial? Who exactly would you hire, a plumber?

Ken Green
2.5.2007 4:11pm
Randy R. (mail):
It only took a few moments to find plenty of research that rips apart Murray's conclustion that there is a large difference in IQs between blacks and whites. The notion that this is 'well settled' is obviously not true.

And here is a summary of their findings: The unintelligent are falling further and further behind. Because intelligence is substantially inherited, nothing is likely to reverse this process. Blacks are overrepresented among the unintelligent. Any efforts government might make to improve the economic opportunities of poor people, especially poor black people, are likely to fail, because their poverty is so much the result of inherited low intelligence. About the best that can be done for these people is an effort to create a world of simple, decent, honorable toil for them.

Pretty damning sort of conclustion, don't you think? If this is not their conclusion, then please enlighten us.
2.5.2007 4:59pm
Enoch:
"What is the difference between Lomborg's philosophy of man and Hitler's," asked Pachauri. "Lomborg thinks of people in terms of numbers. He believes that it is cheaper to evacuate them than to fight global warming, and he has no respect for these peoples and their cultures. If one goes along with Lomborg's reasoning, then Hitler might have been on to something," Pachauri added.

Why doesn't Pachauri respect my unique culture, that requires me to use the internal combustion engine, electricity, and air conditioning??? Damned Pachauri is no better than Hitler...
2.5.2007 5:51pm
advisory opinion:
"Lomborg thinks of people in terms of numbers . . . . If one goes along with Lomborg's reasoning, then Hitler might have been on to something," Pachauri added.

Really. Was Hitler Pareto efficient?
2.5.2007 5:55pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Randy R:

"It only took a few moments to find plenty of research that rips apart Murray's conclustion that there is a large difference in IQs between blacks and whites. The notion that this is 'well settled' is obviously not true."

What research is that? The one standard deviation difference is a pretty standard result. Look at the references in the Wikipedia article here, in particular Roth. From the abstract


Many narrative reviews of the empirical literature in the area focus on Black-White differences, and reviews conclude that the mean difference in cognitive ability is approximately 1 standard deviation; that is, the generally accepted effect size is about 1.0.



You provide no links. I don't know where your quote is from.
2.5.2007 6:51pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Ken Green:

If AEI wants someone to do an in-depth and comprehensive review of the entire IPCC report a month is not enough time. Moreover since the report covers a multiplicity of disciplines you really need an entire team of experts. Do you want to redo some of the computer runs? You don't have to redo everything, but you should do at least a sample. If not are you going to trust the runs? Be prepared to spend upwards of $200,000. Now if you want just one person to read the whole report, make some comments and spend just one month including the time to write his review, you're not going to get much. Writing technical reports is extremely time consuming. When you include rough draft, editing, revisions, tables, equations, figures and references plan on an average efficiency of about one to three pages per day depending on the complexity of the material. Yes you can easily spend two weeks just writing a 30-page report unless the reviewer has a lot of help from graduate student slaves.
2.5.2007 7:07pm
Randy R. (mail):
Sheesh. Do what I did. google "murray bell curve" and you will find plenty of research both supporting, denying and modifying all major points of his book. Wikipedia is a good resource, but it's hardly the last word on any topic. The fact that I was able to find quite a few papers that showed the flaws in his analysis of so many points, including the one that the IQs of blacks is 15 point lower than that of whites, shows that the issue is far from settled or even proven.

And he clearly argued that welfare should be cut because he merely encourages more of the lower IQ people ( i.e., blacks) from reproducing and creating more low IQ people. And he clearly argued that we should not be wasting so much 'resources' on blacks -- I mean, 'lower IQ people -- as we do now, since it is a waste of precious resources. What else COULD he mean but to include education as one of those resources?
2.5.2007 8:28pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Randy R.

The one standard deviation difference predates Murray. Show me the study you like that contradicts this. And you still haven't shown why Murray is a hack, only that some people disagree with him. So you don't like his policy recommendations, (assuming what you ascribe to him is correct), that does not make him a hack. It only means you don't like that policy. It's really not that hard to link to a web page. Try it sometime.
2.5.2007 9:09pm
TDWaterhouse, the nickname (mail):
A few thoughts have developed over the course of reading all of these posts in the last hour, and so here they are:

First, it is unreasonable to debate the authenticity of the science BEFORE IT IS PUBLISHED. After publication, it should be easy to poke holes in the arguments, or say "Look, they misused evidence here, here and here, and therefore it's bad science." But to say that the science is bad because more of it may be on one side than the other is foolish. If it's bad science, then we can stone the scientists and run them out of town, and the day will be carried by the IPCC. But if it's good science, which is independent of the opinions held by the science, then there is a genuine question and a genuine debate. On a side note: the science prepared by the IPCC might also be bad science, an idea nobody seems to have thought of while disparaging the "intellectual whores" who sell themselves out to AEI. That doesn't mean that the UN is the whorehouse - although I personally believe it's not a useful organization.

As to the biases (or lack thereof) shown in AEI's letter, IT DOESN'T MATTER. If a scientist who believes the theory of global warming sees the letter and not the biases, he will write a paper saying that the IPCC's report is correct, although there may be a few small mistakes here and here and here. If that scientist sees the biases, he won't accept the project. If he does, he'll either do a shoddy job that will be laughed back to the drawing board, or he'll do a good job and find some serious flaws in the IPCC report (assuming there are any to find). If he does, it's still good science - it doesn't matter that he could have written a report as good for the other side. In fact, it makes sense for the proponents of one theory or another to write a few papers that go against their beliefs - it allows them to question those beliefs, possibly reaffirm them, or come up with a new theory entirely. If a scientist who doesn't support global warming receives this letter, he'll jump at the opportunity regardless of whether he sees the biases or not, so that the majority of the reports will come out against the IPCC. I repeat: if it's good science, who cares? If it's bad science, that will be pointed out in its own time. And both the science and AEI will be discredited. Is it really in the interest of the oh-so-demonic oil companies who use AEI as their puppet to discredit a means of getting their opinions into the public forum?

On the subject of Ted Frank mentioning his affiliation to AEI: I would have liked to have seen that, just to know where he's coming from. However, his link with AEI doesn't make him biased by default - it's not a homogeneous organization. And if he is biased (sorry Mr. Frank), what's the problem? If he's biased, you should be able to tear down his arguments like so many posters on a wall. If his arguments can't be torn down, then...maybe there's something to what he says, even though he's biased, right? And besides, for anyone who really wanted to know, he did post his affiliations.

People will and have said that it's not just the science that counts, it's the interpretation of that science, and that that is what AEI is trying to influence. But if there's a question as to the interpretation of a piece of science (I know, like a "piece of thing", right?) to the degree where a report from some scientists who interpret results a different way will throw the whole matter out the window, then it's clearly not a consensus issue, is it?

Finally, I'm not sure that AEI is biased at all. I don't know how much money it gets from oil companies (estimates on this forum ranging from <1% to some sizable fractions), and I don't know whether it has previously published papers supporting the theory of artificially induced global warming - without those, it's impossible to tell anyway - but is it a capital crime to promote debate in this manner? AEI may be doing the right things for the wrong reasons, but that doesn't mean that we should trash the whole institution.

I'm going to end with a slight digression here: I don't really think it matters whether global warming is artificially or naturally induced, either. I don't think a lot of the most public debates matter very much, actually, such as whether Hillary or Obama has better character or whether we should have gone into Iraq or what happened to Tom Cruise and Catherine Zeta-Jones, and I think I'm better off for it. It's still a good idea to find sustainable, efficient and clean ways to power the country. It's still a good time to find out what the actual opinions of presidential candidates (as represented by voting records, not by their speeches) are. We still have to find a "less bad way" (as a recent prominent news source put it) to channel Iraq's future into - any improvements, such as the possibilities offered by a troop surge, are welcomed. And it's still a good idea to ignore celebrity couples. On the sustainable energy note (most relevant to this discussion), I support some long hard research into any and all possible alternatives to oil and coal. I'd like to see a alternative-energy commercial vehicle by 2010 (and biofuels don't count, because they're already out and they're only a small step forward anyway). Comments?

Anyway, time for high school homework.
2.5.2007 11:02pm
TDWaterhouse, the nickname (mail):
Oh, and it's getting kind of annoying trying to follow the debate between Zarkov and Randy about the merits of Murray and the relevance to racism. Both sides are using the "that isn't enough evidence to prove your sources, you didn't include three carrots and a pea" argument, Zarkov more so than Randy. But Murray's hackitude is irrelevant. Some of his points, such as the intelligence difference between blacks and whites, may be relevant; some, like his explanation that this is due to racial factors on top of socioeconomic factors, may not be. It's pointless to take the average IQ of blacks vs. whites and say "look, we're smarter" because there's clearly a difference in environment (anyone who's taken an American Lit class should know the difference between Social Darwinism and Reform Darwinism. Murray's arguments as they're being portrayed here fit solidly into the first category). It's also a bad idea to say "look, it's pointless to help the lower-IQ people because they're clearly lower-IQ and therefore worthless" because, factoring in socioeconomic status, that's like saying that it's pointless to help the poor because it's their own fault they're poor and they should work harder - a clearly flawed argument.

But this whole argument about whether Murray was a hack stems from determining whether AEI is a hack institution. Every institution has a couple of bull****ers, some have more than others, but nobody's even discussed some sort of threshold at which point an institution might be called "hack". Nor does it necessarily follow that because AEI employs some hackers, that the whole place is a hack organization. To a Democrat, that's like saying the whole executive branch is worthless because Bush is president. Not true. Murray's hack status has nothing to do with it.
2.5.2007 11:17pm
Lev:
Randy R.


And he clearly argued that welfare should be cut because he merely encourages more of the lower IQ people ( i.e., blacks)



There is just one problem with that example of your ignorance. The Bell Curve's discussion of lack of intelligence and crime and not encouraging more of the lower IQ people was made using data for whites.
2.6.2007 12:08am
A. Zarkov (mail):
TDWaterhouse:

I agree that the debate with Randy R reached tiresome proportions. But it's also tiresome to have the thread interrupted the tiresome insults like Murray is a hack therefore AEI is a hack organization. I agree with you that it doesn't matter, and early on I provided an example of an actual hack at AEI, namely Glassman, and said it doesn't matter because all sorts of institutions have hacks on their staff. Now if you look carefully you will see that Randy R provided no evidence to support his allegations beyond "google murray bell curve" and you will find plenty of research …" That's an unacceptable response because anything the least but controversial will produce a large number of hits supporting any side of an argument. I suspect he has trouble setting up a link to web page in his posts, but I could easily be wrong on that. I think that the quality of any blog site is reduced when people think a Google hit proves something without going into why the evidence presented is compelling.
2.6.2007 6:08am
Jeek:
Apropos of AEI, right now I am reading Finding the Target, which is Frederick Kagan's book on military transformation. I'm only 100 pages into it, but it really isn't very good. It certainly can't be described as scholarly or particularly insightful so far. Max Boot's War Made New was a much better treatment, and took a broader historical approach as well.
2.6.2007 9:49am