The Honest Broker

Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics

Propaganda Syllabus: Fact Checking

This is the latest installment in my ongoing project to create a syllabus for a to-be-taught-in-the-future graduate seminar on propaganda. When I get a critical mass of these posts I’ll compile into a summary post, and at the end I’ll publish a complete syllabus.

This one focuses on the rise of “fact checking” by the media and the growing number of outlets which purport to serve as arbiters of truth by evaluating claims made in political debates. Continue reading “Propaganda Syllabus: Fact Checking”

What is Propaganda?

I’ve started assembling a syllabus focused on propaganda and politics.  The creation of the syllabus will take place on this blog, and it looks like it will be useful for the 2nd edition of The Honest Broker as well.

This post takes a step back to offer a definition of the term propaganda so that readers and collaborators know what I mean when I’m using the term.

Continue reading “What is Propaganda?”

Propaganda Syllabus Module: Truthiness in Policy

In the aftermath of the recent election, I thought it would be a good idea to put together a syllabus for a grad seminar on propaganda. I spent a lot of time studying propaganda in graduate school (in the Lasswellian tradition) and writing on symbolic politics has been a theme of some of my research over the years.

I will start posting up some “modules” that might be part of a future syllabus. Continued … Continue reading “Propaganda Syllabus Module: Truthiness in Policy”

Scientists and President Trump

Jack Stilgoe and I have a piece in The Guardian suggesting three questions for scientists following the surprise election of Donald Trump as US president.  Here is how we start:

Donald Trump has won. Science and scientists played almost no part in the campaign. Now, scientists must consider how they fit into a Trump future. This won’t be easy. Many scientists are scared. In the tribal world of US politics, many now find themselves on the outside looking in.

We welcome your comments.

The Nobel Prize Winners for Clinton and Democracy

I was asked by AP journalist Seth Borenstein for my views on the letter released yesterday by 70 Nobel Prize winners in support of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for president of the United States (the letter actually had 69 signatures).

Indicating the significance of such letters, it merited only a short blurb in an AP election news round up. Below you can see my full response to Borenstein on the letter. Continue reading “The Nobel Prize Winners for Clinton and Democracy”

Science Advice: Give Us $1 Trillion

The United Nations recently created a Science Advisory Board (which by the way, includes Susan Avery, the person responsible for bringing me to the University of Colorado when she was an administrator here). The SAB just released a major report, The Future of Scientific Advice to the United Nations, A Summary Report to the Secretary-General of the United Nations from the Scientific Advisory Board.

The report contains much of what one might expect in such high level documents, such as exhortations about the importance of science and a call to institutionalize the SAB. But some of the advice is misplaced. Continue reading “Science Advice: Give Us $1 Trillion”

Can We Stop Already with the Idea That the Public has Lost Trust in Science?


The figure below comes from the 2016 NSF Science and Engineering Indicators, and it shows long-term trends in public trust in various US institutions.  Clearly, there is no long-term trend in trust in science.fig07-18_1449609054396

Here is the same sort of data for Europe (source here in PDF): Continue reading “Can We Stop Already with the Idea That the Public has Lost Trust in Science?”

Sarewitz on Science in Crisis


Do Policy Makers need Councils of Disciplinarians?

Updated 7 Sept 16: To add in a reference to this excellent piece by @jameswilsdon.

Writing in The Atlantic, Graham Allison and Niall Ferguson argue that the US president needs a new Council of Historical Advisers. They write: Continue reading “Do Policy Makers need Councils of Disciplinarians?”

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑