31 July 2010

The Honest Broker

Among a few climate scientists there is a renewed interest in discussing my book The Honest Broker. To be honest I don't really understand their specific critiques but I think they can be summarized as follows:

1. Scientists should not be in the business of giving policy makers choices (that is, the role of the honest broker of policy options is not desirable), because it gives cover to policy makers who might do the wrong thing.

2. Science dictates a specific course of action, thus to present science to policy makers necessarily compels a particular course of action, rendering advocacy and indeed political give and take, unnecessary.

Needless to say I find both of these positions highly problematic -- from practical and democratic perspectives. This post is for any questions or discussions about the book.
UPDATE 7/31: Over at the discussion of my book hosted by climate scientist Michael Tobis, Tobis presents a clear statement of authoritarianism:
On complex matters which have significant objective and normative components, those opinions which are informed by expertise should carry more weight in decisions than opinions which are not well informed. The more complex the matter at hand, the more weight should be given to expertise and the less it should account for value-driven decisions that are likely to be ill-informed.
Wow. And scary.