The Honest Broker

Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics

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?”

Manufacturing Fetishism

John Kay has a thoughtful essay on what he calls “manufacturing fetishim” which defines as “the idea that manufacturing is the central economic activity and everything else is somehow subordinate .”

Kay argues, provocatively, that in some significant degree obsession with manufacturing is not an economic issue, but a social and political one: Continue reading “Manufacturing Fetishism”

What’s a University for? Questioning

In the WSJ today University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer has a strong op-ed on the purpose of a university. He writes: Continue reading “What’s a University for? Questioning”

Public Trust in Science is Not the Problem, It is Politicization

There is a popular idea going around that public trust in science is declining.  Evidence suggests that it is not. Instead, public views on science have become a function of political ideology or partisanship. The problem is not trust, it is politicization. Continue reading “Public Trust in Science is Not the Problem, It is Politicization”

Experts of Convenience

Modern science rests upon “a bald-faced but beautiful lie” from which it draws its “political and cultural power.” That is how Dan Sarewitz describes the myth that underpins modern science.

That lie holds that scientists following their curiosity, motivated by little else and certainly not political considerations, advance understandings and thus our ability to make wise decisions. THB is also an effort to critique this “beautiful lie.” Continue reading “Experts of Convenience”

Second Edition of The Honest Broker

In 2007 I published The Honest Broker with Cambridge University Press. It has been, by far, the most influential academic publication of my career, with over 1000 cites according to Google Scholar.

Give its success, I have taken on the idea of a second edition with some trepidation, as I could mess up that which helped the book reach such a large audience.

But with the book’s 10 year anniversary next year (time does fly), I am taking the leap and working on a second edition. Continue reading “Second Edition of The Honest Broker”

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