Estragon and the Expert

An abstract stakeholder’s dialog. Vladimir, or V, is the expert. Estragon is E.

[V] You have cancer.
[E] OK.
[V] …
[E] Is it curable?
[V] Yes, I guess.
[E] …
[V] …
[E] How?
[V] There’s A or B.
[E] What would you suggest.
[V] If you do A [inaudible], if you do B [inaudible].
[E] Sure, but what would you do.
[V] I honestly can’t tell, I’m just a broker.


[E] Well, if you can’t tell and you’re the expert, who can.
[V] You can ask Gwyneth.
[E] I’d rather not.
[V] Well, there’s this study, with some non-suboptimal paths.
[E] I can’t read charts – what do they tell you.
[V] Depends what you want to optimize.
[E] Not dying would help.


[V] Look, I’m in the truth-telling business.
[E] I thought you were a doc.
[V] And?
[E] Well, isn’t there an oath or something.
[V] Sure, but I really can’t tell – it would compromise my scientific reputation.
[E] Thanks for setting your priorities straight, doc.
[V] No problem.


[E] Alright, doc – do you care if I survive.
[V] Sure.
[E] Good. How.
[V] Do A or B.
[E] You mean I should do A or B, not C.
[V] Or nothing.
[E] You suggest I do something.
[V] Exactly.
[E] At least there’s that.
[V] You can’t say I fell into advocacy.
[E] How about doing A or B.


[V] When I say “do A or B,” I’m not advocating for anything.
[E] You’re still helping me not die.
[V] That’s my job – to dispense the best evidence.
[E] Wait. How is helping me not die an observation.
[V] I see. What I mean is that my job is evidence-based.
[E] Advocacy too is.


[V] You’re right – I should be more objective.
[E] What do you mean.
[V] I forgot about D, which is only palliative.
[E] Not sure I understand.
[V] A or B will cause suffering, D will alleviate suffering.
[E] Oh, I don’t want to suffer.
[V] You may die faster.
[E] I don’t want to die either.
[V] It’s suffering or death I’m afraid.
[E] There’s still suffering and death.
[V] …
[E] …
[V] I would advocate against that.


This stakeholder dialog is meant to convey the idea that experts constrain decisions. These constraints should orient policy making. A broker who’d only describe what’s on the table at very least advocates against what’s beyond it.

Truly brokering preferences does not stop at listing policies – we want to order them in ways to optimize resource allocation along policy paths. Solutions are seldom unique, in which cases many experts and many teams may provide more robust ideas. But to compare policy analysis to building a travel site of policies is like comparing pure scientific research to stamp collection.

My point can be reduced to the following Moorean sentence, the paradigmatic example being “it is raining but I don’t believe it is raining”:

[MB] Solutions A or B are most efficient but I’m not advocating for solution A or B.

This looks odd to me. I prefer to think that brokers can be honest and still own their analysis. One does not simply present one’s results and not advocate for them. Scientific advocacy is never arbitrary to the point of being comparable to the advocacy coming from the Contrarian Matrix. In any event, forbiding experts from advocating in their own areas of expertise would be silly.

I recently tried to talk about Moorean sentences. It did not go unpunished. So instead of compacting my point in a single sentence, I made it more explicit by using what I would call an abstract stakeholder dialog. (Patent pending.) The V&E scenario above omits important parameters. Doing something about AGW is a collective decision – V could have cancer too. Both should decide on the cure, e.g. for insurance purposes. The impact of the decision should be made under partial ignorance. as we do not know exactly who will die.

We covered all this innumerous times. While disagreement about details remains possible, I suspect that our ClimateBall episodes furiously recurse because they hit something like dialogical fixed points. Making these points explicit might be more efficient than artificial examples like Moorean sentences. We may need a mix of illustrations and explanations.

We could go on an on with abstract stakeholder dialogs between Vladimir and Estragon and retrace all of ClimateBall. Other characters could be added. Waiting for Godot also casts Pozzo, Lucky, Boy, Godot. One day bots might recreate abstract dialogues for us:

The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep somewhere else another stops. The same is true of ClimateBall.

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About Willard

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110 Responses to Estragon and the Expert

  1. russellseitz says:

    A welcome reminder that an honest broker must know when to utter the words :
    “Don’t trade.”

  2. Eric,
    It’s getting late here, but your paper looks interesting. I’ll try to find some time to read it tomorrow.

  3. Joshua says:

    Speaking of experts….perhaps related…

    There is insufficient evidence to support claims that the public has had enough of experts, according to academics at the University of Sheffield.

    |…]

    Dr. Katharine Dommett, director of the Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics at the University of Sheffield, said: “It’s perhaps no surprise that those casting doubt on the status of experts haven’t based their claims on robust evidence.

    (bold added)

    Well now, there’s a shocker!

    http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/146015/16/PUS_What_do_we_think_of_experts_FINAL21may19_NO_TRACK.pdf

    https://phys.org/news/2019-06-evidence-experts.html

  4. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    Scientific advocacy is never arbitrary to the point of being comparable to the advocacy coming from the Contrarian Matrix.

    What do you mean by arbitrary there? And how, then, would that term apply to contrarians’ arhuments?

  5. Willard says:

    > What do you mean by arbitrary there?

    It’s a play of word that comes from a tweet where I talk about the Arbiter:

    The Consensus Project is a good example of an advocacy effort that is constrained by the evidence. That we should do something about AGW only follows from the evidence if we add values such as human decency or intergenerational justice. An oracular arbiter could not care one way or the other, just like the Nature Speaks serie shows:

    By contrast, contrarians can pick and choose whatever they fancy to attack the established viewpoint. The talking points are not mutually coherent between the various megaphones. It’s not even clear each contrarian has to be consistent. Check the last threads.

  6. That’s a good explanation.

  7. Steven Mosher says:

    “The defining characteristic of the honest broker is a desire to clarify, or sometimes to expand, the scope of options available for action. I often use the examples of travel websites like Expedia as examples of honest brokers in action. Sometimes people get caught up on the word “honest” here — what is important is the commitment to clarify the scope of possible action so as to empower the decision maker. Sometimes honest brokers are unnecessary in a political setting, for instance, when advocacy groups collectively cover the scope of available choice. But sometimes policy making would benefit from greater clarity on choice, or even the invention of choices previously unseen.”

    Decision Maker: what should we do;
    Nuke Advocate: Full bore nukes, it is your only choice;
    GND: Green new deal, no nukes, Obviously the only choice. oh and panic!
    Decsion maker; Is that it? expert A says expert B is wrong, expert B says expert A is wrong
    Beuller? Beuller?
    Forest B: err, some folks say A, some folks say B, there is some research on C, you
    didnt call them to testify. D hasnt been investigated fully either. You could
    always try them all. I suggest you call experts on C and D.
    Decsion maker: Well forest what do you suggest? if you were king?
    Forest: I’m not a decision maker, I have my personal preference, but my job is to make sure
    you have everything on the table before you decide. Not just A, not just B.
    You will of course find people advocating A and only A as the solution, or the best
    solution. That is their job. You need them to make the strongest case for A.
    and the B folks, you need them too to make the strongest case for B. My role
    is to make sure your menu of choices is complete and full, so you can decide

    DM: jesus forest you sound like a bad used car salesman. You have your moment here
    Sell me on something !
    Forest: I’m more like a waiter. Turn the menu over, there are more choices on the back.
    DM: so you are advocating that I make the decision?
    Forest: ya, your body your choice I suppose. You are after all the decision maker

  8. Steven Mosher says:

    You know the weird thing is willard that is almost verbatim the discussion I had with my doctor
    relative to surgery.
    gave me two choices, refused to say which was better
    choice A: surgery
    Choice B no surgery
    Listed the pros and cons.

    M: what would you do Doc
    D: I make money from the surgery, not my place to decide this. I am good at the surgery though
    M: So its my body. my choice?
    D: funny way to put it, but yes. I’ve had patients take both paths.
    Life choice. yours to make.

    2nd surgery was a little different. different doctor.

    Mosh: you ever use this robot to do this kind of surgery
    Doc: Nope first time!
    Mosh: you any good?
    Doc: I’m the best.
    Mosh: Choi? Korean right.? ABK? A student?
    Doc : yes to all
    Mosh: any choices?
    Doc: ya I can cut you open, figure 1 week in the hospital.
    Mosh: what would you do?
    Doc: lets do the robot thing, dont worry, your life my hands, easy peasy.
    Mosh: done, can I get a tie with the suit?

  9. John Ridgway says:

    “Solutions A or B are most efficient but I’m not advocating for solution A or B.”

    I would dispute that the above sentence is Moorian. To qualify, it would have to contain a proposition and a statement of belief regarding its truth. As such, a Moorian sentence is amenable to doxastic analysis. I can’t see how your sentence can be analysed doxastically, and I fail to see anything paradoxical about it. If the sentence had been:

    “Solutions A or B are most efficient but I do not believe they are most efficient.”

    then I could agree to it being Moorian.

  10. Willard says:

    > I fail to see anything paradoxical about it.

    In the context of our dialog, V cannot expect to judge A or B as most efficient without the belief that he’s advocating for actions that will make A or B happen.

    Our expert is asked for his opinion to help solve a problem. Offering a purely theorical solution would not work. If the efficiency implied is not actionable, V’s response would fail to be relevant.

    Our expert is asked to stand by his analysis. Offering a purely random analysis would fail to be informative unless the solution implies stochasticity. Even then V would need to demonstrate why casting lots should be preferred to choice for efficiency’s sake. And V would need to abide by that demonstration.

    ***

    > I can’t see how your sentence can be analysed doxastically […]

    That’s the theorical part I wanted to omit with the dialog.

    The canonical version of Moore’s paradox (by hearsay – we only have Wittgenstein’s word for it) implicates an assertoric (P) and a doxastic claim (I believe that P) in the present tense. The paradox obtains because assertion implies knowledge: when I say that something is true it’s because I know it. The paradox is even stronger in cases of self-knowledge, i.e. I went to dinner but I don’t believe I did. I know of no satisfactory solution to the purely epistemic interpretation of the paradox. Its persistence makes me suspect there’s an impossibility proof in there. Perhaps someone did, as with the Gettier problem, which we now know cannot be solved.

    A more fruitful way to analyze the paradox is by using a richer pragmatics. For instance, someone who asserts P (sometimes) does something more than simply state P. Depending upon context, the assertion will come with a set of presuppositions. Human communication can tolerate some indefiniteness regarding these presuppositions. Those who specify AI systems need to clarify them, e.g. “I’m just passing along the information, don’t take my word for it.” In its most general version, Moore paradoxes would exhibit a clash between the modalities by which we communicate information. That’s work in progress. One day I may have more to say on Moore.

    As you can see, abstract dialogs help bypass a whole closet of analytical considerations. My preference would go for dialogs. They are formally sound. They are more lively. Theater is tried and true.

  11. Willard says:

    > Turn the menu over, there are more choices on the back.

    That line makes me think of the special menus in some Chinatown restaurants in Montréal. Once the waiter is being informed that the clients want more exotic choices, he turns over another menu, and he points at the various dishes on proximal tables. Which goes on to show that who you’re talking to can modify expectations [about one’s role].

    Since you mention Junior’s quadrants, here would be a way to simplify it:

    This stylized decision diagram shows two things. First, that the roles don’t presume any “view of science” and “view of democracy.” Second, that what matters is the action involved.

    The Advocate advocates. The Arbiter arbitrates. What does the Pure Scientist and the Broker do exactly?

    More on that later.

  12. mt says:

    Here’s my tl,dr:

    ===>

    The people doing the research are the Experts. There is a natural gap, indeed a healthy rivalry between Experts and Advocates. What happens in the middle is messy, and perhaps should be better formalized, but the end members of the set are pretty straightforward roles.

    The trouble occurs when Experts themselves have a stake in the outcome, for instance by being human beings on a planet with a climate. If the decision making process becomes too cumbersome (not to say idiotic), experts have no choice but to inject themselves into the decision making process.

    <===

    My reasoning:

    Look, here is the issue. The MD is not the researcher. That is, the MD **is not** the expert.

    Practicing physicians are not usually experts in the sense that climatologists are experts. That role is performed by medical researchers. (To be fair, many medical researchers screw up my argument by maintaining a specialized practice. But let's leave that aside.)

    The expert on condition C is not usually the person advising the patient. Rather, the person advising the patient is semi-expert on a broad range of conditions, including C. It is ideally the role of the expert E on condition C to dispassionately observe proposed treatments and their outcomes. This may be tinged by advocacy, especially if expert E on condition C is the inventor of treatment T.

    But this is exactly why scientists are so touchy about advocacy. If expert E is too enthusiastic about treatment T, it may colour his estimation of treatment T's effectiveness. A great deal of methodology in applied science, such as medicine, addresses investigator bias of exactly this type.

    We need the dispassionate pure-science examination of hypothesis in order to develop effective applied-science responses.

    I think every serious investigator, indeed every serious person, should begin the day by asking his/her self "how could I be wrong?"

    This is immensely frustrating to Advocates, who expect allies to remain allied, for whom reconsideration of evidence amounts to treachery.

    This gap between Experts and Advocates does need some filling.

    In the medical case, the person (other than the patient) who benefits from the procedure, say surgeon S, can reasonably be seen as its Advocate. The consulting physician P is the Broker and/or Arbiter (I still don't understand the difference).

    hence, again:

    ===

    The people doing the research are the Experts. There is a natural gap, indeed a healthy rivalry between Experts and Advocates. What happens in the middle is messy, and perhaps should be better formalized, but the end members of the set are pretty straightforward roles.

    The trouble occurs when Experts themselves have a stake in the outcome, for instance by being human beings on a planet with a climate. If the decision making process becomes too cumbersome (not to say idiotic), experts have no choice but to inject themselves into the decision making process.

    ===

    Not entirely tangentially, pioneering climatologist Stephen Schneider wrote a book about his experiences as a cancer patient, called "The Patient from Hell".

  13. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    The problem with abstract stakeholder dialogs (patent pending) is that one is never sure what modifies what –
    A stakeholder dialog that’s abstracted?
    or, a dialog between abstracted stakeholders.

    One interpretation abstracts the dialog, the other, the stakeholders.

    Perhaps the ambiguity could and should be embraced?

    Doc:
    It’s global obesity. If you don’t change what you’re doing, I’d say you have about 12 years to live, if you want to enjoy the same sort of lifestyle that you do now. Moreover, by the end of the century this could become fatal. But I can’t be sure. And there are options other than not changing what you’re doing.

    Greta:
    Shit. This is not good. Especially for peeps that have more then 12 years of life-expectancy.
    We should immediately decide on a course of action and act.

    Mosh:
    And panic! Heh.

    David:
    The idea that we’re gonna die is hype. Things die all the time, but the IPCC Reports don’t even mention death, let alone present any evidence for it.

    Greta:
    Of course the IPCC Reports don’t mention death. That was not in the mandate of the IPCC.
    Look – Doc here says that there are options…

    Doc:
    Yes. Other than doing nothing, you could…

    Mosh:
    Panic! Heh.

    Doc:
    … eat less, and eat better, and exercise more.

    David:
    “Medical emergencies” are being declared in parliaments and on campuses. But the rhetoric of death and emergency does not adequately describe the situation we find ourselves in. Declaring a medical emergency implies the possibility of time-limited radical and decisive action that can end the emergency. But global obesity is not like this. We should view global obesity as a new condition of human existence, rather than as a path to death.

    Greta:
    I’m sorry, David, but I think your rhetoric constitutes a rather silly response to the global obesity crisis.

    Doc:
    I’d have to agree with Greta. My diagnosis is based on well-tested medical science.

    David:
    Medical science is fundamentally based on probabilistic forecasts which underpin the quantification of risk. There is a range of possible values for future global obesity. It is as false scientifically to say that the future will be catastrophic as it is to say with certainty that it will be merely lukewarm.

    Doc:
    That’s a odd way to think about the situation. I’d rather put it this way: We have a weight problem that’s going to affect your future. You have some choices to make about the future that will almost certainly determine your quality of life and your life-span.

    Mosh:
    Weird. This is just like a recent convo I had with a climate scientist. Almost verbatim.

    Roger:
    There is no crisis as long as our Earth Mass Index is matched by the Global Health Product.
    That is the law. To say otherwise would be stealth advocacy.

    Bjorn:
    There are developing parts of the planet that are not yet obese. We should send food.

    Judith:
    Recent data and research supports the importance of natural weight variability and calls into question the manufactured consensus conclusion that weight is the dominant cause of obesity.
    I just listened to a podcast about this. Wow.
    I can’t say for sure that doing nothing wouldn’t be the best policy.

    Greta:
    OK, Doc. Let’s get down to business. What are the options?

    David:
    The rhetoric of obesity and death does not help us psychologically. It all too easily induces feelings of terror. But inducing a state of terror generates counter-productive responses in human behaviour.

    Mosh:
    Yeah. Get a load of Greta.
    She NEEDs to rack up some more medical fiascos as she runs around in a panic.

    Greta:
    I’m not in a panic, I’m pissed. And I’m getting damn tired of ObesityBall.
    I know how we got to where we are today. This is not fine.
    Potential policy fiascos don’t concern me nearly so much as the actual global obesity crisis.
    The clock is ticking.
    Well, Doc?

    Doc:
    I’m not going to make the choice for you – but I’d recommend a weight loss program. Since the condition is mostly a result of habitual behavior, it will be very difficult to change at first, but if you are successful, the prognosis is good.

    David:
    Difficult change, huh?
    Can we get a second opinion? This expert is advocating an opinion that generates counter-productive responses…

  14. [V] you have cancer, do this.
    [E] i read that B works better
    [V] yes. but do A.
    [E] will it cure me?
    [V] No on the cancer. But it will give you a heart attack, so the cancer probably won’t be what kills you.
    [E] Why on earth would I do that?
    [V] My party is opposed to B. Besides, cancer will give you a horrible, screaming death within the next five days or so.
    [E] Wait.. this report from the lab says I may have a mild, treatable form of skin cancer that may actually be benign.
    [V] Yeah, that’s what I said, screaming horrible death. Or not. Probably not, but you can’t rule it out. Look, the longer we avoid doing A, the more likely you will die.
    [E] You said that last year! You said I had five days to live! The oncologist said it was a freckle.
    [V] Oncologists aren’t real scientists, they’re industry funded deniers. Trust science.
    [E} I’m going to leave now.
    [V] (speaks to his electronic note taker) “Patient displays inability to grasp seriousness of cancer, has taken the no-action step of visiting oncology followed possibly by option B. Write article for Guardian about patient, title: “only five days left to live!” Set follow up appointment for patient for next year. Suggest option A again- possibly for a new disease? Ebola?”

  15. mt says:

    Rev. I don’t really know who David is supposed to represent, but Judith is spot-on.

  16. Willard says:

    > many medical researchers screw up my argument by maintaining a specialized practice.

    There’s a more expedient to mess up with how you portray expertise, mt. An expert isn’t only an expert of what that expert does, but in the area of specialization, and by extension the whole field. A cancerologist is an expert in cancerology, but may be specialized in (say) brain cancer.

    The division of labor between all experts is as obscure as the division of labor between the Scientist, the Arbiter, the Advocate and the wannabe Broker.

    ***

    > The trouble occurs when Experts themselves have a stake in the outcome

    I’d turn that on its head – the trouble is when experts can afford to remain in their ivory towers. I’m tempted to call that phenomenon epistemic privilege. Having skin in the game is par for the course. Staying above that might disappear the day society can’t afford it.

    That said, affording pure research is a Good Thing. We all gain from it, except perhaps those who suffer from not having some. To allow folks to explore possibilities without concern for eventual applicability gave us too many things to reasonably let it go.

    So to the roles of Advocate and Arbiter I’d add Researcher. Or Explorer, as science is exploration, but this may carry colonial tones.

    Does it show I’m a Trek fan?

  17. Willard says:

    > One interpretation abstracts the dialog, the other, the stakeholders.

    Both. A formal dialog is no real dialog. Abstract stakeholders are not real stakeholders.

    It’s just a series of words carrying voices we are free to interpret any way we wish.

  18. Willard says:

    > It’s just a series of words carrying voices we are free to interpret any way we wish.

    That may be going too far. Were I to write on abstract stakeholder dialogs (wink wink) I’d have to give a specification. The same applies to what I called a dialogical fixed point, and also to the General Moore Problem, as JohnR spotted earlier.

    But I don’t have time and am enjoying JeffN’s and Rev’s dialogs too much to care for now.

    Carry on. It’s fun.

  19. Rev’s dialogue is good- well done!

  20. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    mt:

    I don’t really know who David is supposed to represent…

    Slayer of Goliath = Mike Hulme, extinction denier, and author of “Why We Disagree About Climate Change” which proposes that climate change, rather than being a problem to be solved, is an idea which reveals different individual and collective beliefs, values and attitudes about ways of living in the world.

  21. Willard says:

    Here would be one way to show the clash between the two modalities:

  22. John Ridgway says:

    Willard,

    Thank you for your considered response.

    I’m getting a better idea of where you may be coming from but there is a long way to go before I could accept that your example sentence is Moorian:

    My main problem is that, at face value, it does not contain a doxastic statement of belief with respect to the truth of the solutions’ efficiency, nor indeed is there an implied one. If ‘advocacy’ is taken to be ‘recommendation’, then advocacy surely requires more than an understanding of the truth or otherwise of the proposition made. For example, a failure to advocate may simply be due to the presence of an alternative and necessarily dominant decision criterion. Unless one can demonstrate a required equivalence between non-advocacy and a disbelief in the proposition made, then there is no paradox. Your explanation only works for me if a failure to recommend the solutions can only happen due to a failure to appreciate the solutions’ efficiency.

    If, on the other hand, one defines advocacy simply as the promotion of the benefits of a course of action, then I can see a contradiction in your chosen sentence, though I still do not see it as a paradox – it is merely a self-contradictory remark (i.e. I promote a benefit of the solution (efficiency) but I do not promote any of the benefits of the solution).

    May I also point out that I wasn’t actually claiming that there is no paradox in a Moorian sentence. On the contrary, I was suggesting that the absence of paradox in your example (at least as I perceived it) was a further indication to me that it was unlikely to be Moorian. Although I felt I didn’t need it, I still appreciate that you took the effort to explain the nature of Moore’s paradox.

  23. Willard says:

    > I’m getting a better idea of where you may be coming from but there is a long way to go before I could accept that your example sentence is Moorian:

    I could not care much whether you accept what I say or not, dear JohnR. A fair warning. My next examples may involve sentences such as

    [J1] I don’t always attack W*, but when I do I refuse to cite or quote W* in my attack.

    [J2] I don’t always declare that L* fails to understand the precautionary principle, but when I do I only say so as some indefinite authority on the matter.

    There may be other infelicities that could be turned into Moorean sentences below:

    https://cliscep.com/2019/03/15/tales-of-the-unexpected

    Thank you for your concerns.

  24. John Ridgway says:

    Willard,

    Ever since I saw your portrait on the internet, I knew you were the one for me. That foppish hair and boyish good looks! But every time I tried to express my true feelings for you, words seemed to get in my way. I had hoped that by sticking firmly to the matter in hand, this time, we could form the start of something beautiful. But, alas, your latest derisive rejection has shattered my dreams. So I need to pick up the pieces and get on with my life. I will try not to be broken-hearted, but I can make no promises.

    I’ve just had a thought. That is your photo isn’t it? Willard is your true name? I would hate to think you are one of those indefinite authorities one hears about.

  25. Willard says:

    Dear JohnR,

    This sudden declaration of your true sentiments may provide the explanation you did not give the other day:

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I have attempted to respond to most comments but not yours. There’s a reason for that, but I’m sure you don’t need me to provide the explanation – the Willard explanation will always suffice.

    The Most Moorean Man in the World does not always wish to start something beautiful with a person on whom he first laid his eyes, but when he does he refuses to respond to that person.

    Presenting one’s true name does not make one’s authority less indefinite. One John Ridgway I would trust on risk management has experience with oil spills. Yet you once said:

    Having never worked for a big oil company, I am at a bit of a disadvantage.

    https://cliscep.com/2019/03/15/tales-of-the-unexpected/#comment-35053

    You could of course reply that you still believe having worked for an FTSE 500 company. That belief alone would mean little without a trace. Suppose that instead of deferring to that glorious past you showed you knew what you were talking about. Arguments might carry more weight than bragging indefinitely without truly montrer patte blanche.

    The Most Interesting in the World knows he often appeals to his own authority, but when he does it’s for beer ads or memes.

    Farewell,

    W

  26. izen says:

    @- the very reverend
    “Doc:
    I’m not going to make the choice for you – but I’d recommend a weight loss program. Since the condition is mostly a result of habitual behavior, it will be very difficult to change at first, but if you are successful, the prognosis is good.”

    (Whole dialogue is brilliant. But…)

    Prol:
    My habitual behavior is largely shaped by the availability of food in the locality in which I live and work. It is almost impossible to buy fresh produce or basic ingredients from which I can make my own meals, but pre-packaged, processed meals that only need a minute in the microwave are readily available.
    Also the weight loss programs I see advertised in the media that is targeted at me all promise fast and easy weight loss if I just buy into their product and slavishly follow their strict rules for a couple of months.
    Do any of them work Doc?

    Doc:
    No, it will take a permanent change in your diet to stop and reverse your obesity problem. I am afraid that if you lack the wealth and time to make your own meal choices and are constrained to the available foods that are supplied by the current system of food production and supply that ‘serves’ the majority you are doomed to failure however much individual will-power you may have.

    https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2019/5/28/18629833/climate-change-2019-green-new-deal

  27. Willard says:

  28. izen says:

    @- Joshua

    I suspect that those diet programs that show some success do so because they create a social group of which you become part. It is that element which enables the habitual change to occur.
    At least while you stay within the granfalloon.

  29. Steven Mosher says:

    “Since you mention Junior’s quadrants, here would be a way to simplify it:”

    why would you want to simplify it?

    You ask what a broker does.

    Jr explains

    ““The defining characteristic of the honest broker is a desire to clarify, or sometimes to expand, the scope of options available for action. I often use the examples of travel websites like Expedia as examples of honest brokers in action. Sometimes people get caught up on the word “honest” here — what is important is the commitment to clarify the scope of possible action so as to empower the decision maker. ”

    This requires no appeals to Moore or diversions into Philosophy.

    In fact it describes what happens everyday in business/technology. it has happened in almost
    every design I’ve ever worked on.

    Funniest one was the speed brakes for the YF-23.

    In the beginning there was only one choice. Pushed by an advocate. basically you
    can describe an advocate by the number of solutions they believe are acceptable.
    1 trick ponies.
    Then a second advocate was allowed to comment. yup we got a second one.

    Now the key is the first advocate was an aero guy, so he wanted something he understood.
    The second advocate was from structures, he cared more about strength.
    Third guy was from stealth. you know what he optimized for.

    None of these advocates even wanted to acknowledge any weakness in their approach. It was the solution. you need advocates.

    at some point the problem gets turned over to the brokers. The job was to

    EXPAND
    CLARIFY

    What’s expand mean? well there were 3 choices and the job was to come up with more.
    some of the ideas were down right stupid. but the job was not to evaluate or promote
    a favorite option, the job was to expand the number from 3. simple. well defined. Give the
    deciders more options. cover all the bases, leave no stone unturned.
    So, if someone says: Nukes are the only solution, advocate. duh. You need to hear him
    out. yup. get it all on the table.

    What does clairify mean?
    in some cases it means to simply point out the various pros and cons of particular solutions
    So, the guy from structures slected a location for the speed brake that was hella
    strong. Unfortunately it also maximized the signature and creating a pitching moment
    that was hard to control, throw out the speed brake AND control the nose.
    So clarify usually ends up being telling the deciders that the advocates have not
    presented all the relevant information

    But you dont always need a broker.
    Here’s a technique I’ve used. I have two guys advocating, one advocates A, the other B.

    After hearing their pitches they get the following task

    person A must give me two lists:
    1. Problems with his solution
    2. Problems with Bs solution
    and person b does the same thing

    And then suggest that the person with the best critique of his own system will have an
    improved chance of convincing me.

    haha. after they have been through this a few times their proposals always come with
    complete lists at the very beginning.

    It takes quite an effort to misunderstand what Jr is getting at, or understanding the problem he is talking about.

    Now, if you want to argue that the broker is ALSO an advocate because he recommends something, I suppose this is trivially true. call them option expander and option clarifier if that floats your boat. But at some point there is a important operational distinction between
    those people who will only promote 1 thing and refuse to recognize issues with their solution
    and folks who can give you a list of all the solutions and their pros and cons

  30. Willard says:

    > why would you want to simplify it?

    Because the roles don’t depend on some dual views of science or democracy. Including them renders the axes absurd. Abstracting them immediately reveals the similarity between the roles in diagonal of one another.

    Also, the original roles fail homogeneity. What do the Pure Scientist and the Broker do exactly? Specifying the roles instead of just naming them increases their distinctness.

    Of the four different roles when facing a scientific problem with societal implications, only one is named after scientists. And to me what stretches the limits of justified disingenuousness is when one empties that very box:

    It’s just more coherent to assume that these are all roles scientists can take. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that every single paper contains the four modes of communication. We can recognize them in the lichurchur review, the description of the original research, the argumentation in favor of the author’s interpretation, a discussion section that ideally seeks an objective stance on the general problem.

    To research, to advocate, to adjudicate, and to overview are all things scientists can do. They’re not incompatible roles. All contribute to the scientific endeavour. None of them stands alone.

    ***

    > if you want to argue that the broker is ALSO an advocate because he recommends something, I suppose this is trivially true.

    I seldom argue for more than what looks obvious to me. In this case, my point is simply that offering options necessarily excludes choices. Otherwise the very idea of requiring a broker would be absurd. Moreover, to hide this choosing is an important problem in ClimateBall:

    There’s a word for brokers who hide their choices and it’s not “honest.”

  31. Steven Mosher says:

    wow willard that’s a lot spinning to avoid a rather simple observation.

    regardless of Jrs box, it is that hard for you to see the difference between

    A) a person who only offers one option as if there were no other
    B) a person who collects various options and presents them

    seriously, you dont need a lick of philosophy to complicate this, and anything that complicates
    it is decidely less useful.

  32. It seems to me that you’re both kind of saying something similar. There are multiples roles that someone can play, and sometimes people advocate for something quite specific and, at other times, present a range of options. From what I can see, a key thing is for the decision makers to set the parameters, rather than for the experts to define the role they should play.

  33. Steven Mosher says:

    I think we can agree on that.

  34. Willard says:

    > that’s a lot spinning to avoid a rather simple observation.

    You asked me a question, Mosh. It was a simple one, one relevant to answer. So I answered it.

    I don’t need to counter your long military parable, as my point takes Junior’s roles for granted. Assume brokers, arbiters, advocates and researchers – each guys do stuff we usually presume only the others do. A broker will broker, but will also research, adjudicate, and advocate. At all times the broker will try to show that its brokerage is honest. It cannot pretend exhaustivity – selection criterias will be required. None of that implies that our broker isn’t brokering anymore. What it implies, however, is that from Junior’s clause that there is no Pure Scientist in the real world should follow that there’s no Pure Broker, no Pure Advocate, no Pure Arbiter either.

    ***

    Let’s add another point. A broker’s work changes according to settings. Put that broker on a congressional hearings. Our broker will be queried to emphasize the minority positions preferred by the advocates who present their theater as some kind of arbitration procedure.

    Now, put that broker in charge of the biggest video repository of the Internet:

    Watson, a former YouTube creator who returned with a single video and live stream about the topic, demonstrated how a search for something like “bikini haul,” a subgenre of video where women show various bikinis they’ve purchased, can lead to disturbing and exploitative videos of children. The videos aren’t pornographic in nature, but the comment sections are full of people time stamping specific scenes that sexualize the child or children in the video. Comments about how beautiful young girls are also litter the comment section.

    https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/19/18229938/youtube-child-exploitation-recommendation-algorithm-predators

    In a chaotic world, neutrality can lead to many evil things.

  35. Willard says:

    Instead of delving into oedipian stuff, let’s take a neutral example. Here’s a list of papers on Moore’s Paradox:

    https://philpapers.org/browse/moores-paradox

    There are 217 papers in that list. Is that an exhaustive list of all the papers about the paradox? No idea. It’s what I got. It looks good enough. I can work with that.

    Now, where to start? I picked the first recent one, Cave 2011. It’s a good paper, but it’s not about Moore – it’s about humanism. Should it be included in the list?

    This step alone contains two judgment calls. First, deciding if a paper is topical enough to make the list. Second, deciding how to order that list. Having read the paper, I can say yes to the first question, and would say no to the second one. (A third question would be – should the list maker actively pursue a search for papers on Moore’s paradox or just wait for submissions?)

    That’s the kind of questions even an algorithm like YT’s has to solve.

    More on Cave later.

  36. Willard says:

    An interlude:

  37. izen says:

    Tourist A:
    I want to go somewhere really hot on my holiday, can you tell me what the options are ?

    Travel adviser:
    You’re in luck ! Recently there have been periods of record warmth in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, China, and Australia. Even in N America there have been many more warm record days and weeks than cold ones.
    Of course there is no guarantee, there can also be cold spells, but over the last few years they are getting less common.

    Tourist A:
    That sounds excellent, I suppose it is because of global warming…

    Travel adviser:
    No, there is no way of knowing that, it could just be chance like throwing two dice and scoring over 7 a hundred times in a row. We would need thousands of throws of the same dice to establish that the recent lucky run of high scores was really not just due to chance.

    Tourist A:
    But haven’t we changed the dice we are using with the Greenhouse effect ?

    Travel adviser:
    That is circular reasoning. If the warmer weather we have observed could just be due to random chance you cannot use it as evidence that it is caused by the greenhouse effect.

    Tourist B:
    I want to go sking holiday this spring, can you tell me what the options are ?

    Travel adviser:
    I am sorry to say that recently your options are rather less than they used to be. Many ski resorts in the Alps and America have a much shorter season than they used to have and it is difficult to guarantee good snow on all the runs by the spring. Of course if you can go further north, or travel to a higher altitude there are still reliable options.

    Tourist B:
    So the mountains in Alaska might be a good bet ?

    Travel adviser:
    Well even there it is uncertain. They don’t have ‘heat waves’ because it is still cold, but they are having many more spring days when the temperature is above freezing and snow and ice cover has been shrinking earlier than it used to.

    Tourist B:
    That sounds depressing, I suppose it is because of global warming ?

    Travel adviser:
    No, there is no way of knowing that, it could just be chance like throwing two dice and scoring over 7 a hundred times in a row. We would need thousands of throws of the same dice to establish that the recent unlucky run of high scores was really not just due to chance.

    Tourist B:
    But haven’t we changed the dice we are using with the Greenhouse effect ?

    Travel adviser:
    That is circular reasoning. If the warmer weather we have observed could just be due to random chance you cannot use it as evidence that it is caused by the greenhouse effect.

    Tourist C:
    I want to go somewhere where the weather is just like it was when I was young in the summer of 68,

    Travel adviser:
    Errr…

  38. Steven Mosher says:

    I don’t need to counter your long military parable, as my point takes Junior’s roles for granted. Assume brokers, arbiters, advocates and researchers – each guys do stuff we usually presume only the others do. A broker will broker, but will also research, adjudicate, and advocate. At all times the broker will try to show that its brokerage is honest. It cannot pretend exhaustivity – selection criterias will be required. None of that implies that our broker isn’t brokering anymore. What it implies, however, is that from Junior’s clause that there is no Pure Scientist in the real world should follow that there’s no Pure Broker, no Pure Advocate, no Pure Arbiter either.”

    your point totally ignores the distinction Jr is trying to make. And of course there are pure advocates. I hired people specifically for the job. And they did it. it is not that hard.
    Also note Jr did not require a broker to be exhaustive, the word was expand. Not exhaustively list.
    The simple fact is we can draw some distinctions between those folks who only offersingle solutions, or solutions they believe in . and folks who expand the list. and we can draw distinctions
    between those who clarify, say offer pros and cons, and those who dont.
    It is silly to argue that these distinctions are not real, or not important, even if they are tough to draw, and even if folks may not adhere to a role perfectly.

  39. Steven Mosher says:

    last week I hired an advocate. There job is to promote 1 thing. my solution
    I also have a broker. he is free to give options to people. mine is just 1.
    now of course during the ins and out of working they may not fulfill their roles perfectly doesnt change what their role is and doesnt change the fact that we can draw the distinction.
    advocates narrow choices, brokers expand them.
    counting helps you distinguish.

  40. Willard says:

    > your point totally ignores the distinction Jr is trying to make.

    No it doesn’t, and hammering “expand” over and over doesn’t an argument make. It’s easy to make Junior’s omissions explicit while assuming the existence of brokers:

    [Entertaining Broker] I consider S a good buy, but I don’t give financial advice.

    [Dynamic Broker] I expand policy options, but I restrict them too.

    [Local Broker] I present all possible choices, but I do not know if I do.

    [Honest Broker] I present all possible choices, but I know I can’t.

    These Moore sentences show that brokering comes with more baggage than Junior idealizes. Brokers make choices. They research them. They arbitrate what to include and what to exclude in their reports. They advocate for the selection they make.

    The same applies to advocates – advocacy without research, judgment, and information gathering is indistinguishable from screaming.

    ***

    This should be simple enough. So what’s at stake? Let’s try Moore sentences again:

    [Iron-Willed Policy Analyst] I want my opponents to broker all policy options, but I arbitrate those I deem politically feasible.

    [Concerned Contrarian] I believe in AGW, but I minimize it daily.

    Junior’s concerns regarding the IPCC are not that complex. They still stretch justified disingenuousness.

  41. “advocates narrow choices, brokers expand them.”

    Now finish the thought.
    Advocates prioritize their preferred choice over the problem itself and will let a problem grow rather than consider alternate choices.

    Brokers prioritize the problem over the choices, will seek a list of choices from a variety of advocates and attempt to objectively pick the ones with the best chance of reducing the problem.

    What is worse is that few advocates are fully satisfied by the decisions of brokers, so most are willing to lobby against the decision- blaming the broker for the resulting inaction.

    Polarization in politics means we have more advocates, and fewer brokers in our leadership.

  42. Willard says:

    > Polarization in politics means we have more advocates, and fewer brokers in our leadership.

    Not sure about that. For all I know it could be the other way around. Most think tanks present themselves as politically independent. Most of them do more than advocacy:

    A think tank or policy institute is a research institute/center and organization which performs research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, technology, and culture. Most policy institutes are non-profit organisations, which some countries such as the United States and Canada provide with tax exempt status. Other think tanks are funded by governments, advocacy groups, or corporations, and derive revenue from consulting or research work related to their projects.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Think_tank

    Perhaps we can orient our discussion with a direct question – is the IPCC a broker? I think it is:

    I mentioned the IPCC because I don’t believe that we need to generalize. As interesting as Hansen’s work might be, it might be better to keep the eye on the ball. And the ball are honest brokers. And the main one we have is the IPCC.

    http://www.keithkloor.com/?p=8738#comment-62932

    So much the worse for the idea that I don’t believe brokers exist.

  43. izen says:

    Some background…

    A broker was originally someone who negotiated a marriage between two families. The idea being they would find the best match for both parties. This was in the 14C when marriage was a financial contract with little reference to the feelings or relationship between the individuals actually getting married. Their neutrality was often dubious.

    When stock in companies started being sold in the start of the 1700s stock brokers emerged as people who would negotiate between the investor and the company looking for investment.
    The idea was that they would seek to maximise the benefit to both sides.

    In reality stockbrokers may act to maximise their own benefit by recommending frequent trades to increase their own commission, or favour particular companies because they get a better cut (or bribe) from those businesses, or have their own investment/interest in the success of that enterprise.
    There are rarely strong motivations to act fairly in the interests of the investor, or person wanting advice on the best choice.

    While most governments have imposed rules and licensing to try and ensure brokers are ‘honest’, the need to do so tells you much about the inherent problems in the role.

    Consulting a large number or diversity of brokers may look like a solution to this systemic problem, it is probably the case that the more the Moore meretricious.

  44. Willard says:

    > Consulting a large number or diversity of brokers may look like a solution to this systemic problem, it is probably the case that the more the Moore meretricious.

    Exactly. The best way to test a broker is to ask two without them knowing about the other. Which means we should consult both the IPCC and the NIPCC:

    The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) is an international panel of nongovernment scientists and scholars who have come together to present a comprehensive, authoritative, and realistic assessment of the science and economics of global warming. Because it is not a government agency, and because its members are not predisposed to believe climate change is caused by human greenhouse gas emissions, NIPCC is able to offer an independent “second opinion” of the evidence reviewed – or not reviewed – by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the issue of global warming.

    http://climatechangereconsidered.org/about-the-nipcc/

    Next step would be to trawl contrarian Twitter… Kidding.

  45. Joshua says:

    Their neutrality was often dubious.

    Well, if they just declared themselves honest, like RPJr. does, then all doubts could be removed.

    Most think tanks present themselves as politically independent. Most of them do more than advocacy:

    Well, if they just declare themselves honest, like RPJr. does, then we could know that no advocacy was involved.

    Brokers prioritize the problem over the choices, will seek a list of choices from a variety of advocates and attempt to objectively pick the ones with the best chance of reducing the problem.

    Well, some brokers do that. But some brokers are human, and are not able to remove their personal preferences and personal judgements from their determination of what provides the objective best chance to solve the problem. So how do we know which is which?

    Well, if the broker just drclares him/herself honest and warns us of the horrible dangers of advocacy, like RPJr. does, then we could know that no advocacy was involved.

  46. izen says:

    The IPCC may be a broker, but is probably better described as an auditor because it is trying to present a general overview of the best established or known facts on the issue.

    Unfortunately as the subtle, and sometimes not so nuanced differences between the technical summary and the SPM make evident it may not be entirely honest. Subject as it is to veto and editing of the final form by ‘interested parties’.

    This is not a problem confined to the IPCC.
    Recently when one branch of the US government was collecting what should be scientific information on the climate issue from a scientist who have a role as government adviser, the advice was blocked because it did not ‘conform to the administration’s views’.

    “On almost every page of Dr. Schoonover’s testimony, the National Security Council offered comments and criticisms, according to a document that tracks changes. Two people familiar with the document said the notes were from William Happer, a physicist and White House adviser on the council who denies the established scientific consensus on global warming.
    “This is not objective testimony at all,” one comment read. “It includes lots of climate alarm propaganda that is not science at all. I am embarrassed to have this go out on behalf of the executive branch of the Federal Government.”
    Another comment objects to the phrase “tipping point” to describe when the planet reaches a threshold of irreversible climate change. “‘Tipping points’ is a propaganda slogan for the scientifically illiterate,” the comment reads. “They were a favorite of Al Gore’s science adviser, James Hansen.””

  47. Joshua says:

    izen –

    While most governments have imposed rules and licensing to try and ensure brokers are ‘honest’, the need to do so tells you much about the inherent problems in the role.

    Let us not forget that index funds perform better on average than “brokered” funds.

  48. Joshua says:

    izen –

    Travel adviser:
    That is circular reasoning. If the warmer weather we have observed could just be due to random chance you cannot use it as evidence that it is caused by the greenhouse effect.

    A question about your travel advisor. Didn’t I hear her say that she accepts the basic physics of the GHE, and that pumping ACO2 into the atmosphere will cause warning?

    I suspect your travel advisor is a lukewarmer. They specialize in having their cake and eating it too.

  49. izen says:

    @-joshua
    “I suspect your travel advisor is a lukewarmer. They specialize in having their cake and eating it too.”

    I think the argument is that it is possible to accept the underlying physics of the greenhouse effect, but still find the global incidence of extreme floods, droughts and heatwaves etc as compatible with ‘natural variation/chance, and therefore statistically unsuitable as supporting evidence that the underlying physics is having a detectable effect.

    Having your cake and eating it too has the advantage the calories don’t count towards your diet…

  50. Joshua says:

    izen –

    I think the argument is that it is possible to accept the underlying physics of the greenhouse effect, but still find the global incidence of extreme floods, droughts and heatwaves etc as compatible with ‘natural variation/chance, and therefore statistically unsuitable as supporting evidence that the underlying physics is having a detectable effect.

    Ok. I was probably pushing it. Saying you accept the physics of the GHE, while saying there was a “pause in global warming” is having cake and eating it too lukewarmer style.

  51. Willard says:

    > Having your cake and eating it too has the advantage the calories don’t count towards your diet…

    May I introduce you to the Optimistic Contrarian:

    [Optimistic Contrarian] I intend to do something about AGW, but I believe I shouldn’t set to do anything about it.

    This is adapted from Cave 2011’s “Chalice” case:

    You are a philosopher at a banquet, medieval in style, sitting beside an extremely wealthy and eccentric lady, Lady Bountiful. The time is an hour or so before midnight. She points to the chalice of wine. She tells you, truthfully, ‘If you drink this potion at dawn, I will give you the castle of your dreams, with servants at your beck and call, unlimited wealth for the rest of your life.’ You have no scruples: you would love such wealth, such life-style – such luck. There is no catch, no trick, no snag, except that, as the lady explains, the chalice is poisoned, a heady brew, an unpleasant concoction. The potion will leave you struggling with intense pains for a couple of days; but then all will be well. There are no side-effects, no damage. Masochist you are not, but the pains are worth the pleasure of the reward. This is no paradox.

    Paradox arises when Lady Bountiful’s offer is as described, except for one key difference. You are in better luck, or so it seems. Lady Bountiful is offering you the immensely valuable estate; the only condition now is that at midnight you must intend to drink the nasty potion at dawn. There is no need actually to drink it; merely intending is sufficient. Surely, this revised offer is so much better than the original one. Intending to do something is so much easier than doing it – and, in this case, intending to drink from the chalice causes no pain, in contrast to the drinking.

    With the Lady’s offer before you, you reason as follows. ‘I want the wealth, so obviously I will intend to drink. Ah, but that is enough. With the intention achieved, there is nothing more I need to do, so, of course, I shall not need to let a sip from that vile phial touch my lips. Oops! That means that I’ll lack a genuine midnight intention to drink. If I intend to do something, I cannot also be set on not doing it.’

    But you really do want the wealth, so the reasoning may continue. ‘Reluctantly and sadly, I now see that I had better truly intend to drink the potion. To hell with rationality! I’ll just drink it. Buthold on… I cannot help but realize that there will be no good reason to drink it when the time comes. A poisoned chalice, yes; but also a poisoned offer! It’s an offer I cannot take up.’

    This is no puzzle for wealth-seekers who do not reflect. They intend to drink and, indeed, they may go ahead – or may, if receiving the keys to the castle before dawn, realize drinking is not then needed. Poor philosophers, paradigms of rationality, have a bad time: they remain poor. Yet it is, of course, possible sincerely to intend to do things and yet fail to do them; athletes intend to win, yet lose; students to study, yet sleep instead; and lovers intend to make the earth move, yet it remains unmoved.

    https://philpapers.org/rec/CAVWAW-4

  52. Willard says:

    Just released your last comment, izen.

    The concept of audit, as popularized by the Auditor, refers to an internal verification of the evidence basis for the claims made by a paper. Auditing implies checking data and code to see if the “statements” check out. This presumes standards that are better codifed in finance [than] in science.

    There are of course many kinds of audits. One you may have in mind would be comparable to formal review of all the evidence available. A meta-analysis provides something like that, although most of the times it’s the reanalysis that is of interest. Ioannidis’ meta-studies could qualify as audits. I don’t think the IPCC does that kind of thing, to the auditors’ dismay. They take what has been published as already vetted, but will consider published comments.

    The IPCC’s reports contain a little more than lists of options. Some arbitration is going on, even if for most of the issues no definite answer can be done – science is rarely definitive. Witness how the SPM estimates the robustness of the multiple lines of evidence. Still, various opinions are taken into account, thus expanding one’s options, as one would like from a broker.

    As the About page states, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. While it may not be a political vehicle, it’s part of a political apparatus. It therefore participates in advocacy regarding AGW efforts:

    The IPCC supports the media to help them convey relevant and accurate information to the public on IPCC assessments and activities.

    https://www.ipcc.ch/news/

    The IPCC is a broker with arbitration capacities and public outreach. Its role should not be confused to what it does. In contrast to the NIPCC, it is a real broker, not a ficticious one. Its work carries institutional weight. Its status is not defined by a book made by one of its critics – it’s granted by the United Nations.

    Roles implies responsibilities, but they don’t restrict activities to the point where only brokers broker, advocacy groups advocate or arbiters arbitrate. Think tanks can research and remain advocates. Researchers can advocate and remain researchers. Brokers can arbitrate and remain brokers.

  53. izen says:

    I think this can be modelled as a version of the Prisoners Dilemma where the two parties agree to cooperate for mutual benefit, but when one party has acted, the other then defects for personal gain at the expense of the first.
    This is mapped onto intentionality over time. at the initial time you make a contract with a future self to cooperate, but after time X your subsequent self defects for personal advantage at that later time.

  54. Willard says:

    > this can be modelled as a version of the Prisoners Dilemma

    What is “this” – the Chalice thought experiment?

  55. izen says:

    @-W
    “What is “this” – the Chalice thought experiment?”

    Yes, your subsequent post crossed mine…

  56. Willard says:

    Oh, I see. There may indeed be a way to adapt Chalice and turn it into Prisoner. Lady Bountiful would need to take back her offer and to lose something if she believes Philosopher will not drink.

    More work may be required for Cave’s experiment to become a classic. I am not sure what makes the Philosopher say I cannot help but realize that there will be no good reason to drink it when the time comes. Winning a castle looks like a good reason to me.

    Faced with Chalice, a luckwarm Broker might say:

    [Luckwarm Broker] Look, it’s simple. Either you take the offer or you don’t. If you don’t, you won’t be worse than you are. If you do, either you suffer or you don’t. If you don’t think, you suffer with your body and you win a castle. If you think, you will only suffer a lukewarm spiritual infelicity, but you will still win a castle. The trick is to intend to drink without setting yourself to drink for real.

    I’m not saying that the lukewarm choice is the best, but the lukewarm choice is the best.

    ***

    There are other interesting cases in Cave 2011. One related to Prisoner is Surprise:

    This well-known paradox tells of students being informed by a truthful teacher of a noon examination one school-day next week. It is a surprise examination in that, whichever day it occurs, the students will have no good reason to believe on that morning that it will take place that day.

    ‘Well, it can’t be on the last day, Friday’, think clever students, realizing that by Friday it would not then surprise, Friday being the only day left. ‘With Friday ruled out, it cannot be on the Thursday; so Thursday must be ruled out.’ Thus the reasoning continues, the days being knocked out one after the other. Clever students conclude that there can be no such surprise examination. They face the week with a complacent smugness, not bothering to revise. Of course, one day that week their smugness is intruded upon: an examination is given – and it surprises. The clever students, having not revised, may now fail the examination, while students unable to conduct such ‘clever’ reasoning have revised and pass. Clever students have been too clever by half, or at least by one eighth.

    Surprise shows an absurdity behind backward induction, an inference scheme that applies in case of Prisoners tournaments with a fixed set of rounds known in advance. Backward induction insures that what applies for one case applies for N cases under certain conditions.

    Surprise could be reduced to the following Moore sentence:

    [Surprise] I know there will be a surprise this week, but for it to happen I need not to believe there will necessarily be one.

  57. “Most think tanks present themselves as politically independent. Most of them do more than advocacy:”

    Independent is always in the eyes of the beholder and actually just means they aren’t attached to a party- ie the Center for American Progress will criticize Democrats if they aren’t progressive enough because CAP is “independent” of the party, while advocates for certain causes.

    According to Forbes, the highest ranked think tank is Heritage, “https://www.forbes.com/sites/alejandrochafuen/2019/02/05/stability-in-think-tank-rankings-but-are-they-an-elitist-bunch/#36e4ebcc3e26

    Heritage has this to say: “Consequences of Paris Protocol: Devastating Economic Costs, Essentially Zero Environmental Benefits”

    Which, I would imagine, would lead some here to suggest they aren’t “brokers” or independent. And some to say that confirms their status as brokers. Advocates can’t stand brokers, unless they agree with them, which is why good newspapers are careful to identify independent think tanks as either “left-leaning” or “right-leaning.” Guess which ones CAP and Heritage are?

  58. Willard says:

    > Advocates can’t stand brokers, unless they agree with them […]

    Brokers love everyone, including the hippies they punch, and Arbiters don’t care whether they like you or not, e.g. like the time when Tom Curtis audited Junior’s red meaty post:

    1) It is impossible for the press release to have over emphasized the blade of the graph because:

    a) The press release does not show the graph; and

    b) The blade of the graph is not discussed by anybody within the press release.

    The same is also true of the report in Nature.

    […]

    There is, therefore, no basis for your not understanding the basis of the comparison between Holocene and 20th century temperatures. That means your failure to explain the basis, and your pretense that it was based on the “blade” again is a case of (gross) misrepresentation.

    Junior might not always criticize scientists, but when he does he sometimes refers to them as a mafia.

    ***

    The Heritage Foundation is a Freedom Fighter advocate:

    The mission of The Heritage Foundation is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.

    https://www.heritage.org/about-heritage/mission

  59. Joshua says:

    Advocates can’t stand brokers,

    Brokers aren’t advocates. How do we know? Because they call themselves honest. Ask Jeff and he’ll confirm their honesty. Plus, we can tell they aren’t brokers because their advice represents an objective evaluation of the evidence. How do we know that their evaluation is objective? Because they tell us that it is. And Jeff can confirm it for us.

  60. Joshua says:

    I had forgotten that Roger once wrote this:

    Saying so typically leads to a torrent of angry ad hominem and defensive attacks, and evokes little in the way of actual concern for the integrity of this highly politicized area of science. Looking past the predictable responses, this mess can be fixed in a relatively straightforward manner with everyone’s reputation intact.

    Only an industrial strength irony meter can full capture that one. Ah, if only we had more honest brokering and less advocacy.

  61. Willard says:

    [Climate Fixer] I’m not saying there’s an easy ClimateBall fix, but there’s an easy ClimateBall fix. Same goes for a Climate Fix.

  62. Center for American Progress mission statement:

    “The Center for American Progress is an independent nonpartisan policy institute that is dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans, through bold, progressive ideas, as well as strong leadership and concerted action. Our aim is not just to change the conversation, but to change the country.”

    Which means Joe Romm’s blog, which was part of CAP, was designed to promote “bold, progressive ideas” – ie advocate for the most left-leaning policies.

    Until they have to actually put them into practice. John Podesta was the head of CAP who created Romm’s blog before heading to the Obama administration, where he praised the administration’s approach to developing more natural gas and said this of his former colleagues who criticized the rapid expansion of gas production under Obama:
    ““If you oppose all fossil fuels and you want to turn that switch off tomorrow, that is a completely impractical way of moving toward a clean-energy future,” Podesta told reporters during a roundtable discussion at the White House.
    “With all due respect to my friends in the environmental community, if they expect us to turn off the lights and go home, that’s sort of an impractical suggestion,” he added.

    https://www.politico.com/story/2014/03/john-podesta-natural-gas-environment-energy-104836

    The fact of the matter is that those policies toward gas mean that gas will be the way the US, and now Germany, reduce emissions and keep the lights on. All thanks to the man who criticized anyone who supported gas, until he criticized anyone who opposed it.

    Podesta had another independent, non-partisan role to play. In 2016 he was the chair of the Hillary Clinton campaign for president and famous for handing his password over to the Russians in a simple phishing attack.

  63. Willard says:

    > The fact of the matter is that those policies toward gas […]

    Drive-by done, JeffN.

    How you went from “progressive” to “left-leaning” did not go unnoticed.

  64. I’m happy to use the NY Times description of CAP- “liberal think tank”. For those of you in Europe, American “liberals” happily consider themselves “left-leaning.”

  65. Willard says:

    > American “liberals” happily consider themselves “left-leaning.”

    And most American “liberals” would be considered “right-leaning” everywhere else in the world, or at least everywhere News Corp does not dominate the media landscape.

  66. Steven Mosher says:

    “Brokers aren’t advocates. How do we know? Because they call themselves honest. ”

    as rodger said some folks get too focused on the word honest.

    operative words are expand and clarify.

    not honest.

  67. Steven Mosher says:

    ” Brokers can arbitrate and remain brokers.”

    nope. i would fire them. i have an aribitrator to arbitrate.
    arbitrators are deciders, given their power by mutual consent between two counter parties.

    of course if we agree the broker can act as arbitrator, then he is no longer a broker.

  68. Willard says:

    > i would fire them

    Sure you would:

    Mosh: any choices?
    Doc: ya I can cut you open, figure 1 week in the hospital.
    Mosh: what would you do?
    Doc: lets do the robot thing, dont worry, your life my hands, easy peasy.
    Mosh: done, can I get a tie with the suit?

    Editing one’s texts does not make one an editor.

  69. Joshua says:

    Brokers aren’t advocates. How do we know? Because they call themselves honest brokers.

  70. Since we’re using analogies.
    The Chevy, Ford, and Toyota dealers are all advocates. They will tell you their vehicles are the best for you.

    Consumer Reports will act as a consultant/broker- telling you independent information about each. You trust it as long as it doesn’t become an advocate. The minute Consumer Reports decides to be a Toyota advocate, you lose interest in it- you already have a Toyota advocate to talk to and she’s better at it.

    At the end of the day, you have to decide if the best vehicle for hauling bricks and your five-man crew to the construction site is the big pickup or the two-door Prius.
    The Toyota lady says the Prius is the best choice because it’s cheaper than the truck. Of course, you’d need two of them and a rental truck to actually do the job, costing you more, but she says you can’t count those expenses.

  71. Joshua says:

    Consumer reports recommends specific purchases. They recommend certain Toyota for purchase.

  72. Joshua says:

    Just to point out the obvious – you still haven’t dealt with the subjectivity in how you determine objectivity. Given your past history of not dealing with direct challenges, I expect that you won’t do so. But I’m open to surprises.

  73. “Consumer reports recommends specific purchases. ”
    No, they don’t. They rate various makes and models on a list of identical standards and let you decide which of them are most important to you. You might be willing, for example, to sacrifice some resale and reliability score for cost or vice-versa. The highest rated car for longevity is uninteresting to people who only keep cars for three years.

    ” Given your past history of not dealing with direct challenges, ”
    Have you ever answered a question I asked you?
    There is subjectivity in everything. Objectivity is hard to ascertain, but it’s really easy to notice when it doesn’t exist. You have to be your own broker. I don’t think Pielke is objective, I don’t think Willard is objective, both have posted some statements that are objectively true. The ones you hate Pielke for so deeply are the “iron law” and pointing out publicly when advocates say things the IPCC finds aren’t actually true.
    The Iron law has held up really well for 30 years now and shows no signs of being wrong.
    Exaggeration for the cause works great on teenagers, less so on the people who have to pay for all the stuff teenagers want.

  74. Joshua says:

    No, they don’t.

    Of course they do. They list specific items as “best buys.” That is providing a recommendation to buy those specific items.

    They rate various makes and models on a list of identical standards and let you decide which of them are most important to you. You might be willing, for example, to sacrifice some resale and reliability score for cost or vice-versa.

    They also say, more or less, “If you are looking for a model that does X, then model A would be a good choice.”

    The point being, the distinctions and definitions you’re relying on as absolute are, in fact, arbitrary. You still haven’t articulated a meaningful distinction between a broker and an advocate. But analogies are of very limited value here anyway, (IMO). What is meaningful is to ground the discussion in context.

    For example, in context, Judith’s distinction between advocate and non-advocate hinges on whether or not she agrees with their recommendations.

    There is subjectivity in everything. Objectivity is hard to ascertain, but it’s really easy to notice when it doesn’t exist.

    This is meaningless. It’s hard but easy = I can have my cake and eat it too.

    The ones you hate Pielke for so deeply are the “iron law” and pointing out publicly when advocates say things the IPCC finds aren’t actually true.

    So you can figure out when Willard is being objective or not, yet you make an completely inaccurate assessment – not only that I “hate” RPJr., but even more amusingly, you have convinced yourself that you understand why I hate him (when I don’t hate him).

    I actually respect much of RPJr.’s analysis. I respect him. What I don’t like is his use of plausible deniability to create an arbitrary umbrellas of objectivity to protect his own advocacy. I have no problem with his advocacy per se. I don’t like it when advocates engage in political expediency that disparages activism.

  75. Jeff says:

    “The ones you hate Pielke for so deeply are the “iron law” and pointing out publicly when advocates say things the IPCC finds aren’t actually true.”

    A human behavioral “law” is meaningless in the context of game theory, LOL.

  76. Willard says:

    Let me get this straight, JeffN.

    Are you suggesting Junior hates Gavin and the IPCC?

  77. The Iron law has held up really well for 30 years now and shows no signs of being wrong.

    What I don’t get is why this is a good thing. If the iron law is actually correct and if climate change is as serious as it could be, then there will come a time when it will become clear that we’ve done far too little to address it and that many people are going to suffer (unnecessarily, if you believe that we can make decisions that are – initially – inconvenient). I don’t see why we should then applaud people who, rather than helping to find ways to do something, have essentially said “we can’t really do anything”. Also, how can one rule out that the existence of the iron law isn’t partly due to people claiming that it exists?

  78. izen says:

    @-ATTP
    ” Also, how can one rule out that the existence of the iron law isn’t partly due to people claiming that it exists?”

    And so dies mathematics as an objective source of knowledge…

    @-W
    “There may indeed be a way to adapt Chalice and turn it into Prisoner. Lady Bountiful would need to take back her offer and to lose something if she believes Philosopher will not drink ”

    No, Lady Bountiful is not a participant, just the means to set up the pay-off/punishment matrix. The two participants are the present and future self of the person making the choice(s).

    Can an ‘honest’ broker expand and clarify the choices outside the limits imposed by the investor ?
    Should the car broker be able to make a systemic critique and suggest that rather than buying a car you should get involved in community activism to agitate for the building of an efficient metro/public transport system that would allow you to commute faster, cheaper and with a fraction of the Carbon footprint ?

  79. izen,

    And so dies mathematics as an objective source of knowledge…

    What I was getting at was how does one rule out that our supposedly inability to do anything that doesn’t have some short-term benefit isn’t simply because people say “we can’t do anything that doesn’t have a short-term benefit”. What if those with policy expertise tried to find ways to break the Iron Law, rather than suggesting that isn’t possible? Also, ss I think others have pointed out, Brexit appears to be something that violates the Iron Law (or could violate the Iron Law).

  80. “What if those with policy expertise tried to find ways to break the Iron Law, rather than suggesting that isn’t possible?”

    “The “iron law” simply states that while people are often willing to pay some price for achieving environmental objectives, that willingness has its limits. ”

    You can either attempt to remove limits to spending or find ways to achieve your goals within the limits. The former has a poor track record, the latter is possible.

  81. Willard says:

    > The “iron law” simply states

    A broker would not reduce the options that much:

    Hoffman’s iron law, regarding speaker system design

    Iron Law (painting), a 1984 painting by Odd Nerdrum

    Iron law of population, from Thomas Malthus’ An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798)

    Iron law of wages, from Ferdinand Lassalle’s Subsistence theory of wages (mid 19th century)

    Iron law of oligarchy, from Michels’ Political Parties

    Iron law of performance, posited by Joel Emer

    Iron law of prohibition, from Cohen’s How the Narcs Created Crack

    Iron law of bureaucracy, from Jerry Pournelle

    Operation Iron Law, a military operation conducted by the Israel Defense Forces in March 2011

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_law

    He might need to expand furthermore.

  82. Willard says:

    > The two participants are the present and future self of the person making the choice(s).

    In classic Prisoner, the offer to the two players is simultaneous. Iterative Prisoner only adds history. It should still be possible to turn Chalice into a dilemma. Let me think about it.

  83. Willard says:

    Here’s one version of the law:

    The “iron law” simply states that while people are often willing to pay some price for achieving environmental objectives, that willingness has its limits. Such limits may fall at different thresholds for different places at at different times.

    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/09/more-on-iron-law-of-climate-policy.html

    Not sure how this law could ever be falsified – limitless will is hard to witness. Yet it can be used as a justification for a broker to constrain policy options. This will in turn reinforces the limits stipulated.

    Another problem is misspecification – how do we determine the costs? Every policy option carries a cost, including doing nothing. AGW comes with risks, and these risks carry steep costs. The law could then imply that AGW actions should dominate, unless we set up the will requirement to absolute consensus.

    In the end, it’s hard not to interpret the iron law as ex post facto rationalization.

  84. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    > In the end, it’s hard not to interpret the iron law as ex post facto rationalization.

    Or just a bit of ego-inflating econo-psycho-babble…

    Of course people have limits to what they would be willing to pay – for just about anything.
    And of course those limits are neither uniform over all available choices nor static over time.

    Here’s a ‘gold law’:
    All people who are not infinitely wealthy have to make choices because their assets always are finite – and those choices can change for various reasons.

    I’m surprised that Pielke, or anyone else, can think that by constraining the application to “achieving environmental objectives” that they have somehow created an an original idea.
    Much less a ‘law’

    Science-envy, much?

  85. Willard.. My recollection of the “iron law,” which I couldn’t find, was a similar but a bit more specific- nations will not significantly damage their economies.

    The prisoner’s dilemma is only somewhat helpful in a world that actually has multiple options for energy production, some geographically limited, with a wide range of costs.
    If you had true, mandatory global commitment to zero emissions by 2050 tomorrow, every nation will race to do that at a lower cost than its competitors. The iron law tells us no nation will pick the most expensive option when others pick cheaper ones and the more expensive the options the greater the incentive to cooperate by day, cheat by night.
    To win the global commitment and the race to achieving it, you sill need to focus on cost. Even in a cooperative environment.

  86. izen says:

    @-W
    “In classic Prisoner, the offer to the two players is simultaneous.”

    I don’t think that is a rigorous requirement. If the choices are sequential the first ‘prisoner’ will not know what the other will choose. Classic Prisoner would require the second prisoner to also have no knowledge of the other choice when making their choice.

    However there is a variant where the first participant knows their choice will be open knowledge to the second participant. If you ‘defect’ or choose immediate advantage and minimal group benefit, that will be known by the second player. It may be ‘better’ to cooperate and act for maximum mutual advantage on the assumption that if that choice is made then a tit-for-tat strategy would ensure the second participant would copy that choice. But carries the risk they may ‘freeload’ off your generosity.
    This all becomes a bit more complicated if the two participants are the present and future self of the same person.
    When your current self makes a choice about current and future actions it may not be irrevocable. But there is an argument for the benefits of a simple reciprocal strategy between matching past/ future action choice. In that way it closely resembles classic PD.

    Choices offered by brokers or advocates will have elements that require immediate action and a commitment to further action by our future selves. Does an ‘honest’ broker expand our knowledge of what future costs and benefits our current choices, and defection for our future commitments, can have?

  87. Willard says:

    izen,

    The only versions of Prisoner I know have two players whose payoffs vary according to mutual choices. The uncertainty resides in what the other will do. Each know the payoff matrix, but can only guess the rationality or the morality of the other prisoner:

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/prisoner-dilemma/

    While we could imagine cases where one player “forgets” about his previous choices, it seems natural to model the two choices as made by distinct agents.

    In Chalice, finding the dominant strategy is self-defeating. We could try to connect Chalice with Prisoner by storifying how those who would try to discover the dilemma would be penalized more than those who would collaborate or to defect unreflectively. I don’t know if this variant would be different from what we already got.

  88. Willard says:

    > nations will not significantly damage their economies

    Donald’s tarifs and Brexit might refute that version of Junior’s law, JeffN. Saying that one needs to focus on cost seems trivial. It applies everywhere there is no free lunch.

    Suppose it’s possible to order policy options according to cost. Suppose further that it would be more rational to pick the cheapest option. How would that expand our options?

    Even you got to admit that an Honest Broker that follows the Iron Law needs to choose between two noble lies.

  89. ” It applies everywhere there is no free lunch.”
    Of course it does. Everyone, including Donald, understands there is a limit to the “cost” of tariffs. Brexit? The discussion appears to be whether the cost of ceding control to Brussels is worth the benefit. Opinions differ, as they always do.

    “How would that expand our options?”
    Ultimately, yes, you choose something(s) from the list of options. Best to have a long list to choose from rather than what the advocates want- which is one option on the list, only once choice, and that being something we previously agreed won’t happen “for the foreseeable future.” Nothing limits options like narrowly insisting on one, unlikely, choice.

    Everyone seems to agree that addressing climate change is hard, everyone at least nods to the difficulty of getting global agreement to do this hard thing, so why make it exponentially harder by limiting solutions to only the most expensive and least reliable? That clearly delays action.

  90. Willard says:

    > why make it exponentially harder by limiting solutions to only the most expensive and least reliable?

    For the same reasons Freedom Fighters are punching hippies, dear JeffN, except for the fact that hippie punching exists. You know how I don’t need you to punch hippies in yet another thread.

    And you’re missing my point again – once options are ordered from the cheapest and most reliable to the more expensive and least reliable, there’s no need to broker anything. Brokers matter exactly when we don’t have that full order.

  91. “…there’s no need to broker anything. Brokers matter exactly when we don’t have that full order.”

    I understand your point, I just disagree with it. Today there are people who are saying that the most expensive, least reliable options are cheap and reliable. In a world where US states are passing 100% renewable mandates, brokers are still necessary, unfortunately.

  92. Josh- We look forward to seeing the Democrats campaigning on promises to stop grooooowth. It’s “popular” you know, you I’m sure you demand it.

  93. Willard says:

    > In a world where US states are passing 100% renewable mandates, brokers are still necessary, unfortunately.

    You’re a nuclear advocate who (not unlike Junior) asks for a second broker because you would arbitrate matters differently, JeffN. The only corner you don’t seem to occupy is Scientist’s, yet nature bats last.

    I have a story on this, but I’ll try to make it a post.

  94. Joshua says:

    Jeff. You haven’t established yourself as a good faith discussion partner. And you’ve declined many opportunities to do so.

  95. Steven Mosher says:

    “> i would fire them

    Sure you would:

    Sorry willard, only guy in the medical group who had skill with Divinci.

    Anyway,

    I love the way you guys can’t adress the simple use of words

    We all know what an advocate is. They offer 1 solution. they advocate for that. they argue
    it is the best or only solution. We need them. they make strong cases.
    We ( well some of us) know what a broker is. A broker offers multiple solutions and clarifies
    things for his buyer . Jesus fucking christ my real estate broker brings me around and shows me houses. She never once suggested on over the other. I’d ask her questions.. what about crime?
    what about schools? what about floods. This is not that hard people. She expanded choices and clarified

    If you can start with acknowledging the simple distinction — a put aside your animus toward the Jr–
    for 2 frickin seconds, then ya might get somewhere.

    in brutally simple terms if advocates and brokers were the same thing, we would end up using 1 of those two words most of the time. we have two words. for a reason.

  96. Willard says:

    > We all know what an advocate is. They offer 1 solution. they advocate for that.

    No they don’t.

    One form of advocacy simply “aims to influence decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions.” The other form of advocacy is simply lawyering, i.e. defending the interests of and speaking for one’s client.

    Both meanings do not imply one and only one policy option. Raising awareness regarding an issue, empowering citizens, and providing information carry no policy. Think tanks usually provide a variety of policy options in line with their mission statement.

    Take the Niskanen Center. Its business is Freedom Fighter advocacy, yet it’s a big tent. It comprises both Jeffrey Sachs and Jerry Taylor. As long as the mission is fulfilled, who cares. A plurality of voices and options within one’s advocacy group does not turn it into a brokering facility.

    The only reason I see to stick to the “advocacy = one policy option” mantra is to commit stealth advocacy. Judy does it all the time. Citation upon request.

    Just like Anything But Carbon is a contrarian stance, Anything But a Carbon Tax is indeed advocacy.

  97. verytallguy says:

    if advocates and brokers were the same thing, we would end up using 1 of those two words most of the time. we have two words. for a reason.

    Are we venturing into Humpty Dumpty territory?

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

  98. Joshua says:

    Steven –

    in brutally simple terms if advocates and brokers were the same thing, we would end up using 1 of those two words most of the time. we have two words. for a reason.

    AI said above:

    Brokers aren’t advocates. How do we know? Because they call themselves honest brokers.

    So because someone calls himself a broker and not an advocate, we should accept that he isn’t an advocate?

    As Willard perhaps suggests above, you seem to have fully incorporated Judith’s (arbitrary) taxonomy – a taxonomy that (IMO) gives her room to simultaneously decry advocacy and act as an advocate.

    Sometimes, perhaps you can judge whether someone is a broker or an advocate (or, IMO, more likely some combination of the two as those abstractions effectively rest on a false dichotomy) based on the reactions they get. How many people are there from more than one side, or perhaps more importantly from a non-fixed position, who see their participation as reflecting a non-position fixed stance?

    Imposing a label on someone as either an advocate or a broker seems rather like saying that the “storyline” method isn’t complementary with more a more traditional method for risk assessment. Trying to assign some intrinsic value is of limited value, and usually only reflects the advocacy orientation of the observer.

    Bottom line, IMO? Those who are strictly locked into one orientation of the other in the face of a false dichotomy (or at least somewhat ambiguous taxonomy) aren’t going to get very far towards finding solutions.

  99. Joshua says:

    VTG –

    You beat me to it, and with much more conciseness and flair – a good combination.

  100. Willard says:

    > Are we venturing into Humpty Dumpty territory?

    How about a Straw Humpty Dumpty: “when you use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.”

    There’s no need to conflate the roles to recognize that roles are not actions but social attributes, and that many roles carry similar actions. To segregate roles by actions without any care for symmetry leaves us with an idealized model that does not do its conceptual job. There are ways to salvage it. So much the worse if it comes at the expense of anyone’s branding.

  101. izen says:

    Broker:
    A person who always acts in their own best interest (financial or status) when negotiating the choices for buyers and sellers.

  102. Joshua says:

    izen –

    Clearly you have that wrong.

    Real estate agents get special ongoing training to make sure that unlike everyone else on the planet, their actions are completely objective and never motivated b y self interest.

    In fact, part of the real estate licensing exam tests that brokers can completely eliminate any reflection of self-interest in their work. If they show any proclivity toward subjectivity, they flunk the exam.

  103. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “In fact, part of the real estate licensing exam tests that brokers can completely eliminate any reflection of self-interest in their work. If they show any proclivity toward subjectivity, they flunk the exam.”

    Obviously they are acting in their own best interest to enhance their status as disinterested, neutral, honest brokers.
    So the exam is testing that they know how not to SHOW any proclivity towards subjective preferences…

  104. Willard says:

    Y’all got it all wrong. The Scientist seeks Truth. The Arbiter renders Justice. The Advocate fights for the Good, which is GRRRRROWTH. The Broker sells Freedom.

    How could Freedom Fighters be advocates? They don’t care for any specific policy option. Only Freedom matters.

    Thank you.

  105. izen says:

    @-W
    “The Scientist seeks Truth. The Arbiter renders Justice. The Advocate fights for the Good, which is GRRRRROWTH. The Broker sells Freedom.”

    I would slightly disagree…
    The Scientist seeks Understanding. The Arbiter renders Judgement. The Advocate fights for the Desired, which is GRRRRROWTH. The Broker sells Money.
    All of which can be wrong.
    The rest follows your pattern.
    (Only money matters)

  106. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    If one can rise above one’s animus for the Jr. for a few seconds, one will then realize the brutally simple fact that there are no synonyms.

    vocabulum ipsa loquitur

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