Sunday, December 06, 2009

Chillin' And Dithering - Watcher's Council Results, 12/04/09


Another week has passed, and the Council has spoken, choosing the winners of this week's competition !

In the Council category, the winner this week was Mere Rhetoric with Leaked Global Warming Docs: "Publicity Machine" Used To Manipulate Journalists And Intimidate Scientists :
Democratic theory 101: there is a scientific sphere and a public sphere, and the two are by design separate and unequal. Scientists are supposed to produce grist for the deliberative mill, answering the objective questions "what's going on" and "how certain are we that we're right?" Then the public uses that information as part of a much messier debate over risk: "given the costs of action vs. the impact of inaction, how certain do we want scientists to be on this issue before we pass new legislation?" That's the deal modern democracies have with scientific institutions.

It's not the most empowering position for scientists to be in - they'd probably prefer to issue decrees directly - but that's why we compensate them with tens of trillions in public money. It's also not a perfect system, though it works well enough to balance nuclear meltdowns vs. necessary power production, epidemics vs. costly mass immunizations, and so on.

And it only works as long as scientists refrain from actively manipulating the public on legislative issues, either by working journalists or by pressuring lawmakers. The leaked emails and files from the Climatic Research Unit, at the UK's University of East Anglia, show that's exactly what AGW partisans have been doing. There has been a widespread and systematic breakdown in how climate researchers relate to the public that funds them and the media outlets that report on them.

In the non-Council category we had a tie between two excellent contestants which the Watcher broke in accordance with our arcane bylaws.

Accordingly, the winner this week is Victor Davis Hanson's Private Papers for Dithering and trashing America :
The growing problem for the Obama administration is that the public has finally caught on that the president's tough rhetoric and soaring oratory don't match reality.

"Considering all options" and "wanting more information" essentially mean dithering and voting present on Afghanistan, even after announcing the adoption of a new bold strategy.

"Saving jobs" means conjecturing about the effects of massive borrowing and enhancing your figures through the creation of fictitious congressional districts and bogus employment reporting.{...}

We are left with two conclusions. 1) A very inexperienced president has discovered that all the easy, Manichean campaign rhetoric of 2008 does not translate well into actual governance. 2) Obama is in a race to push a rather radical, polarizing agenda down the throat of a center-right country before the country wakes up and his approval ratings hit 40 percent.

Here's the complete rundown of this week's results:

I can't wait to see next week's exciting entries, and as always, congratulations not only to the winners but to all the participants.

Council Submissions

Non-Council Submissions

No comments: