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# Is criticising military spending too political?

Would graphs like this be welcome on the wiki? Or perhaps yes to the one on the right since it is R and D spending, no to the one on the left?

http://www.indriid.com/military-cclimate.png

(The image is extracted from this PDF presentation.)

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1.

I think this is political, what is a scientist or engineer supposed to do with this data?

Comment Source:I think this is political, what is a scientist or engineer supposed to do with this data?
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2.
edited January 2011

I think it's political no matter what, but it can at least be bi-partisan if we look at overall spending. For instance if we cut 200 billion dollars per year from the DoD budget, provided that graph is accurate, for the last fifty years, the U.S. national debt would be ~3 trillion dollars instead of ~14 trillion dollars. As a political observation it's not even that controversial, it just illustrates how much wealth we have and where we choose to spend it.

Comment Source:I think it's political no matter what, but it can at least be bi-partisan if we look at overall spending. For instance if we cut [200 billion dollars per year](http://www.zmetro.com/photos/2005/04/d-n-i.jpg) from the DoD budget, provided that graph is accurate, for the last fifty years, the U.S. national debt would be ~3 trillion dollars instead of ~14 trillion dollars. As a political observation it's not even that controversial, it just illustrates how much wealth we have and where we choose to spend it.
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3.

I'm also not too convinced about the relevance of the graph for the purposes of Azimuth. Besides, is it an average R&D spending, or the sum of the spendings in the wealthier countries?

But I think the figure "World grain production" (Worldwatch institute, 2009) at page 8 is interesting.

Comment Source:I'm also not too convinced about the relevance of the graph for the purposes of Azimuth. Besides, is it an average R&D spending, or the sum of the spendings in the wealthier countries? But I think the figure "World grain production" (Worldwatch institute, 2009) at page 8 is interesting.
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4.

Or in governments like the UK, sexa-partisan (big 3 parties plus SNP, Plaid and ulster-unionists, and with apologies to the greens, etc, for neglecting them.)

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Comment Source:Or in governments like the UK, sexa-partisan (big 3 parties plus SNP, Plaid and ulster-unionists, and with apologies to the greens, etc, for neglecting them.) Sorry, couldn't resist.
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5.
edited January 2011

I just don't see the point of the original graph, except perhaps to make us think "oh, it's terrible that there's so much military spending" — or perhaps, if we're climate skeptics, "oh, it's terrible that there's so much spending on climate research"1. Embedded in some narrative it could be potent propaganda, but I don't think the Azimuth Project should do that.

If we ever get around to developing a detailed "Plan C" we may want to carefully study government budgets (an enormously difficult task, full of potential pitfalls), but then we'll need a lot more detailed information.

Right now it might make more sense to collect links to different government programs related to climate science. For one thing, people interested in getting climate science jobs could use that to help find jobs. It would also be good to know what topics are being studied, and who is studying them.

1. Of course, if we were climate skeptics we'd downplay the fact that the two bars here are measured on drastically different scales. It helps if we make the graph a bit smaller:

And that's another I don't like about this graph: it's a complete misuse of the bar graph technique to have a graph with only two bars, both the same height, measured in completely different scales! Bar graphs are good for giving a quick visual sense of the magnitude of many items. But here, the only visual information being presented is the misleading information that two things are the same size!

Comment Source:I just don't see the point of the original graph, except perhaps to make us think "oh, it's terrible that there's so much military spending" &mdash; or perhaps, if we're climate skeptics, "oh, it's terrible that there's so much spending on climate research"<sup>1</sup>. Embedded in some narrative it could be potent propaganda, but I don't think the Azimuth Project should do that. If we ever get around to developing a detailed "Plan C" we may want to carefully study government budgets (an enormously difficult task, full of potential pitfalls), but then we'll need a lot more detailed information. Right now it might make more sense to collect links to different government programs related to climate science. For one thing, people interested in getting climate science jobs could use that to help find jobs. It would also be good to know what topics are being studied, and who is studying them. *** 1. Of course, if we were climate skeptics we'd downplay the fact that the two bars here are measured on drastically different scales. It helps if we make the graph a bit smaller: <img width = "300" src = "http://www.indriid.com/military-cclimate.png" alt = ""/> And that's another I don't like about this graph: it's a complete misuse of the bar graph technique to have a graph with only two bars, both the same height, measured in completely different scales! Bar graphs are good for giving a quick <i>visual</i> sense of the magnitude of many items. But here, the only <i>visual</i> information being presented is the misleading information that two things are the same size!
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6.

And that's another I don't like about this graph: it's a complete misuse of the bar graph technique to have a graph with only two bars, both the same height, measured in completely different scales! Bar graphs are good for giving a quick visual sense of the magnitude of many items. But here, the only visual information being presented is the misleading information that two things are the same size!

There are 4 bars on these 2 graphs.

Comment Source:> And that's another I don't like about this graph: it's a complete misuse of the bar graph technique to have a graph with only two bars, both the same height, measured in completely different scales! Bar graphs are good for giving a quick visual sense of the magnitude of many items. But here, the only visual information being presented is the misleading information that two things are the same size! There are 4 bars on these 2 graphs.
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7.

There are 4 bars on these 2 graphs.

Oh, wow, I didn't even see that!

I just saw the headline "military spending vs climate spending" and thought the tall left bar was one and the tall right bar was the other, then noticed the two graphs used different scales.

Comment Source:> There are 4 bars on these 2 graphs. Oh, wow, I didn't even see that! <img src = "http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/emoticons/redface.gif" alt = ""/> I just saw the headline "military spending vs climate spending" and thought the tall left bar was one and the tall right bar was the other, then noticed the two graphs used different scales.
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8.

I don't think it is political to point out that we currently spend a certain amount of money worldwide on scientific R&D, and that the total allocation to sustainability science is some small percentage of that. I don't think it is political to say that the biggest percentage of R&D is now being spent on military R&D.

Where it starts to get to be political is when you make value judgments about the ratios, i.e. that we should be spending more on sustainability even at the expense of the military.

### Avoiding Politics

I'm still not convinced that we will be able to avoid making those sorts of political statements even if I understand and respect the intention to keep politics out of the Azimuth Project. In the end, the problems we face are very much prioritization problems. How can one propose solutions that aren't, in effect, prioritizations that differ from the status quo? If they differ from the status quo, they will be unavoidably political.

The advantage the Azimuth Project brings to the debate is also it's weakness. We are not professional insider climate scientists. We are not getting paid to promote any particular perspective, even indirectly. That independence can be an important advantage if we don't squander it. But the advantage does not consist in our being unbiased.

### Bias versus honesty and truth

Those of us working on the Azimuth Project are indeed a biased sample. We believe the problems exist and that they are serious enough to warrant our doing something on a personal level to help out. We don't have conflicts of interest, but we do have bias. So the best we can hope for, I think, it to present an honest case for the positions we hold, to keep out conflicts of interest to maintain our credibility, and to hold to truth as our guide even when that truth is ugly or not what we expected.

So we should strive for honesty and truth rather than apoliticism, IMHO.

The story here could be important:

A small group of scientists and engineers led by a physicist and mathematician became worried about what they heard from others scientists about sustainability and the climate. They worked together to do their own investigation and analysis in a very collaborative and open 21st-century way. The results are on the web available for all to see. Here is what they found...

If I were on the fence about sustainability issues, I'd trust that group much more than people who have been working in the field for years, because you never know who is bought out by whom if you are an outsider. Is Exxon paying for that research? Are climate scientists subtly encouraged to predict calamity by the media's obsession with a "story?" How do you know who to believe? We could provide an answer to those questions. If we choose to.

Comment Source:I don't think it is political to point out that we currently spend a certain amount of money worldwide on scientific R&D, and that the total allocation to sustainability science is some small percentage of that. I don't think it is political to say that the biggest percentage of R&D is now being spent on military R&D. Where it starts to get to be political is when you make value judgments about the ratios, i.e. that we should be spending more on sustainability even at the expense of the military. ### Avoiding Politics I'm still not convinced that we will be able to avoid making those sorts of political statements even if I understand and respect the intention to keep politics out of the Azimuth Project. In the end, the problems we face are very much prioritization problems. How can one propose solutions that aren't, in effect, prioritizations that differ from the status quo? If they differ from the status quo, they will be unavoidably political. The advantage the Azimuth Project brings to the debate is also it's weakness. We are not professional insider climate scientists. We are not getting paid to promote any particular perspective, even indirectly. That independence can be an important advantage if we don't squander it. But the advantage does not consist in our being unbiased. ### Bias versus honesty and truth Those of us working on the Azimuth Project are indeed a biased sample. We believe the problems exist and that they are serious enough to warrant our doing something on a personal level to help out. We don't have conflicts of interest, but we do have bias. So the best we can hope for, I think, it to present an honest case for the positions we hold, to keep out conflicts of interest to maintain our credibility, and to hold to truth as our guide even when that truth is ugly or not what we expected. So we should strive for honesty and truth rather than apoliticism, IMHO. The story here could be important: >A small group of scientists and engineers led by a physicist and mathematician became worried about what they heard from others scientists about sustainability and the climate. They worked together to do their own investigation and analysis in a very collaborative and open 21st-century way. The results are on the web available for all to see. Here is what they found... If I were on the fence about sustainability issues, I'd trust that group much more than people who have been working in the field for years, because you never know who is bought out by whom if you are an outsider. Is Exxon paying for that research? Are climate scientists subtly encouraged to predict calamity by the media's obsession with a "story?" How do you know who to believe? We could provide an answer to those questions. If we choose to.
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9.

I am sure that the arrangement of graphs and title is deliberate - I guess the speaker wanted to play a little game with his audience when showing this slide. I didn't think anyone here would fall for it! I thought: I'll make the image big (so far as I can control what appears on people's screens), and I deliberately referred to two graphs in case anyone was intially puzzled.

I suppose the image didn't fool me because I already had a rough order-of-magnitude idea of how funding is divided up. For example, I knew that government’s annual investment in renewable-energy research and development amounts to £0.20 per person in the UK, per year. That means that each five years I get to contribute One Great British Pound to this effort. (I didn't use this example because it is UK-centric; other countries may spend more.) Source is Without the hot air, p 221

I don't think is good to say things like:

### How can scientists and engineers help save the planet?

Many of the problems we face are fundamentally political in nature. But the world can't wait for politicians to take action. There are lots of things scientists and engineers can do now, such as:

and when someone says: "I'd love to do research into renewables, but I can't get any grants" we have to say "Sorry, that's politics. We don't do politics here."

Comment Source:I am sure that the arrangement of graphs and title is deliberate - I guess the speaker wanted to play a little game with his audience when showing this slide. I didn't think anyone here would fall for it! I thought: I'll make the image big (so far as I can control what appears on people's screens), and I deliberately referred to two graphs in case anyone was intially puzzled. I suppose the image didn't fool me because I already had a rough order-of-magnitude idea of how funding is divided up. For example, I knew that government’s annual investment in renewable-energy research and development amounts to £0.20 per person in the UK, per year. That means that each five years I get to contribute One Great British Pound to this effort. (I didn't use this example because it is UK-centric; other countries may spend more.) Source is [Without the hot air, p 221](http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/withouthotair/c28/page_221.shtml) I don't think is good to say things like: >###How can scientists and engineers help save the planet?### > Many of the problems we face are fundamentally _political_ in nature. But the world can't wait for politicians to take action. There are lots of things scientists and engineers can do _now_, such as: > * Develop better [[sustainable energy]] sources, possibly including [[Biofuel|biofuels]], [[geothermal power]], [[hydropower]], [[nuclear power]], [[solar power]], [[wind power]], and [[wave and tidal power]]... and when someone says: "I'd love to do research into renewables, but I can't get any grants" we have to say "Sorry, that's politics. We don't do politics here."
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10.

Azimuth strives to avoid politics and political discussions in the way that information are displayed and explained, but of course every member is entitled to his/her own political stance.

For example: I may be a strong believer of global warming, but based on my experience in software development I estimate that there are at least 10 000 bugs in 1 million lines of code, as a rule of thumb. So I'm going to try to find out how many bugs currently used GCMs may have and what effect these bugs have, and how people handle it. This is completely independent of my personal bias, which may be that either "global climate change is a serious threat and publicly voicing any doubts will only strengthen climate change deniers, no matter what these doubts are" or "climate change advocates are leftists that want to use their blatant lies in order to rule the world".

Azimuth works by avoiding the discussion of this political bias, trying to discuss objective science instead, and therefore enabling others to make up their own mind. In this case I'm not sure what other scientists and engineers will do with the kind of inquiry I mentioned above.

Maybe some will say that there are severe deficiencies in currently used GCMs and that we should turn to other sources of information.

Maybe some will say that the people developing GCMs are obviously at the front of modern software engineering and know about all the mantraps and handle the development process as professionally as the best software companies of our times do.

Suggesting concrete plans of actions already takes us beyond the core philosophy of staying in the realm of objective science, that's true. But I hope that we only bend the rule, not break it. Writing about "how to convince certain bigshots in Congress that they should fund your research into xy" would break the rule.

Keep in mind that you are always free to engage in politics elsewhere.

Comment Source:Azimuth strives to avoid politics and political discussions in the way that information are displayed and explained, but of course every member is entitled to his/her own political stance. For example: I may be a strong believer of global warming, but based on my experience in software development I estimate that there are at least 10 000 bugs in 1 million lines of code, as a rule of thumb. So I'm going to try to find out how many bugs currently used GCMs may have and what effect these bugs have, and how people handle it. This is completely independent of my personal bias, which may be that either "global climate change is a serious threat and publicly voicing any doubts will only strengthen climate change deniers, no matter what these doubts are" or "climate change advocates are leftists that want to use their blatant lies in order to rule the world". Azimuth works by avoiding the discussion of this political bias, trying to discuss objective science instead, and therefore enabling others to make up their own mind. In this case I'm not sure what other scientists and engineers will do with the kind of inquiry I mentioned above. Maybe some will say that there are severe deficiencies in currently used GCMs and that we should turn to other sources of information. Maybe some will say that the people developing GCMs are obviously at the front of modern software engineering and know about all the mantraps and handle the development process as professionally as the best software companies of our times do. Suggesting concrete plans of actions already takes us beyond the core philosophy of staying in the realm of objective science, that's true. But I hope that we only bend the rule, not break it. Writing about "how to convince certain bigshots in Congress that they should fund your research into xy" would break the rule. Keep in mind that you are always free to engage in politics elsewhere.
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11.
edited January 2011

Curtis wrote:

How can one propose solutions that aren't, in effect, prioritizations that differ from the status quo? If they differ from the status quo, they will be unavoidably political.

When I started it, I never thought of the Azimuth Project as being in the business of "proposing solutions". I thought of as trying "to create a focal point for scientists and engineers interested in saving the planet, and to make clearly presented, accurate information on the relevant issues easy to find".

This approach lets it avoid certain kinds of wheel-spinning and friction that inevitably go along with policy-making, politics, persuasion, and the like. For one thing, people can contribute to the Azimuth Project without needing to agree on priorities! They just need to agree that it's good to seek accurate information and present it clearly.

The idea of "Plan C" thus presents a big challenge to the original vision. It's quite possible that work on "Plan C" belongs somewhere else, not on the Azimuth Project! You are beginning to convince me of this.

That would be fine. I'd still be happy to work on Plan C. I never intended the Azimuth Project to be a complete solution to our planetary problems. I think it's much better for it to have a smaller, more achievable goal.

Graham wrote:

and when someone says: "I'd love to do research into renewables, but I can't get any grants" we have to say "Sorry, that's politics. We don't do politics here."

I think it's perfectly sensible for us to include information about grant opportunities. We could go through the main funding agencies and create pages listing their grant programs in relevant fields. That's one way we can help people who are having trouble getting grants. There are probably lots of other ways, too.

So I don't quite understand what you want to do, which you think is forbidden by our current policy. Do you want us to start trying to persuade governments to increase funding in certain areas? Or persuade people that their governments should do this?

That would put us into the persuasion business, which is very different than the "figuring out the truth and explaining it" business. They're both important, but it's very hard combine them. If you're in the persuasion business, people will realize that, and they won't expect you to tell the truth about things — at least, not in situations where it's easier to persuade people by downplaying or hiding certain facts. And that means: almost all situations.

On the other hand, providing information about how much funding is available in various areas is fine! That's part of "figuring out the truth and explaining it". At least, it is if we try to make the information well-balanced - not carefully chosen to push a certain agenda.

Comment Source:Curtis wrote: > How can one propose solutions that aren't, in effect, prioritizations that differ from the status quo? If they differ from the status quo, they will be unavoidably political. When I started it, I never thought of the Azimuth Project as being in the business of "proposing solutions". I thought of as trying "**to create a focal point for scientists and engineers interested in saving the planet, and to make clearly presented, accurate information on the relevant issues easy to find**". This approach lets it avoid certain kinds of wheel-spinning and friction that inevitably go along with policy-making, politics, persuasion, and the like. For one thing, people can contribute to the Azimuth Project without needing to agree on priorities! They just need to agree that it's good to seek accurate information and present it clearly. The idea of "Plan C" thus presents a big challenge to the original vision. It's quite possible that work on "Plan C" belongs somewhere else, not on the Azimuth Project! You are beginning to convince me of this. That would be fine. I'd still be happy to work on Plan C. I never intended the Azimuth Project to be a complete solution to our planetary problems. I think it's much better for it to have a smaller, more achievable goal. Graham wrote: > and when someone says: "I'd love to do research into renewables, but I can't get any grants" we have to say "Sorry, that's politics. We don't do politics here." I think it's perfectly sensible for us to include information about grant opportunities. We could go through the main funding agencies and create pages listing their grant programs in relevant fields. That's one way we can help people who are having trouble getting grants. There are probably lots of other ways, too. So I don't quite understand what you want to do, which you think is forbidden by our current policy. Do you want us to start trying to persuade governments to increase funding in certain areas? Or persuade people that their governments should do this? That would put us into the persuasion business, which is very different than the "figuring out the truth and explaining it" business. They're both important, but it's very hard combine them. If you're in the persuasion business, people will realize that, and they won't expect you to tell the truth about things &mdash; at least, not in situations where it's easier to persuade people by downplaying or hiding certain facts. And that means: almost all situations. On the other hand, providing information about how much funding is available in various areas is fine! That's part of "figuring out the truth and explaining it". At least, it is if we try to make the information well-balanced - not carefully chosen to push a certain agenda.
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12.

John Baez wrote:

The idea of "Plan C" thus presents a big challenge to the original vision. It's quite possible that work on "Plan C" belongs somewhere else, not on the Azimuth Project! You are beginning to convince me of this.

One of the ideas from my second book, Inside the Mind of the Turtles, that I propose for improving the ability of large organizations to respond quickly to change and to manage uncertainty is the importance of actively seeking reality. In fact, this is the 5th rule for managing risk and uncertainty.

In the context of a large organization, it is always the case that management would like to know actual reality, but they almost never have access to it. The only aspects of reality that filter through fairly reliably to top management are those aspects which have a concrete tie with money and accounting because, in general, those are separate functions with a separate reporting hierarchy responsible directly to the board of directors for the veracity of the statements.

All other information flows through the same hierarchy that is responsible for implementation. So one generally finds distortion and optimism flowing up through the organizational reporting. This often means that problems are only apparent to top management after they have been evident to people on the ground for weeks, months or even years.

In the book, I propose that most companies should create a separate sub-organization hierarchy whose sole purpose is to report the truth about the health of the organization, status on various fronts, and any other information which is relevant to management. The people in that sub-organization won't have conflicts of interest because the organization will only be measured by their accuracy and how well they report on the actual conditions.

So, there is considerable merit to the idea that for the world to act quickly and respond in the coming times of uncertainty, it would be very helpful to have an organization/project that can be trusted to provide the truth about the various options, irrespective of who those options benefit or harm personally or financially. There is no such organization for science, as far as I can see. There are indeed conflicts of interest everywhere; and the enemies of science use these conflicts to sew doubt about things that science itself doesn't doubt. This is a problem that bears most of the blame for our not having a worldwide carbon tax treaty or equivalent incentives at the moment.

#### What is the Azimuth Project really trying to accomplish?

John Baez continued:

That would be fine. I'd still be happy to work on Plan C. I never intended the Azimuth Project to be a complete solution to our planetary problems. I think it's much better for it to have a smaller, more achievable goal.

In order to determine whether or not Plan C should best reside within the Azimuth Project or not, one should consider what you, John Baez, are trying to accomplish here. Not the purpose of the project as you originally intended, but the larger goal. What effect are you trying to have? For instance, why did you envision Plan C at all? It seems to me that you saw some gaps that needed filling. One of them was a place for scientists and engineers to come together to determine the truth, but there are other goals. I suspect you'd like to have some effect beyond doing good science and that's why you're thinking about Plan C.

The idea of "saving the planet" is a bold goal that goes beyond what most would consider to be a "smaller, more achievable" goal. Indeed, "to create a focal point for scientists and engineers interested in saving the planet, and to make clearly presented, accurate information on the relevant issues easy to find" would be a major accomplishment but probably insufficient for saving the planet in any significant way.

Comment Source:John Baez wrote: >The idea of "Plan C" thus presents a big challenge to the original vision. It's quite possible that work on "Plan C" belongs somewhere else, not on the Azimuth Project! You are beginning to convince me of this. One of the ideas from my second book, _Inside the Mind of the Turtles_, that I propose for improving the ability of large organizations to respond quickly to change and to manage uncertainty is the importance of actively seeking reality. In fact, this is the 5th [rule for managing risk and uncertainty](http://www.azimuthproject.org/azimuth/show/Blog+-+making+decisions+under+uncertainty). In the context of a large organization, it is always the case that management would like to know actual reality, but they almost never have access to it. The only aspects of reality that filter through fairly reliably to top management are those aspects which have a concrete tie with money and accounting because, in general, those are separate functions with a separate reporting hierarchy responsible directly to the board of directors for the veracity of the statements. All other information flows through the same hierarchy that is responsible for implementation. So one generally finds distortion and optimism flowing up through the organizational reporting. This often means that problems are only apparent to top management after they have been evident to people on the ground for weeks, months or even years. In the book, I propose that most companies should create a separate sub-organization hierarchy whose sole purpose is to report the truth about the health of the organization, status on various fronts, and any other information which is relevant to management. The people in that sub-organization won't have conflicts of interest because the organization will only be measured by their accuracy and how well they report on the actual conditions. So, there is considerable merit to the idea that for the world to act quickly and respond in the coming times of uncertainty, it would be very helpful to have an organization/project that can be trusted to provide the truth about the various options, irrespective of who those options benefit or harm personally or financially. There is no such organization for science, as far as I can see. There are indeed conflicts of interest everywhere; and the enemies of science use these conflicts to sew doubt about things that science itself doesn't doubt. This is a problem that bears most of the blame for our not having a worldwide carbon tax treaty or equivalent incentives at the moment. #### What is the Azimuth Project really trying to accomplish? John Baez continued: >That would be fine. I'd still be happy to work on Plan C. I never intended the Azimuth Project to be a complete solution to our planetary problems. I think it's much better for it to have a smaller, more achievable goal. In order to determine whether or not Plan C should best reside within the Azimuth Project or not, one should consider what you, John Baez, are trying to accomplish here. Not the purpose of the project as you originally intended, but the larger goal. What effect are you trying to have? For instance, why did you envision Plan C at all? It seems to me that you saw some gaps that needed filling. One of them was a place for scientists and engineers to come together to determine the truth, but there are other goals. I suspect you'd like to have some effect beyond doing good science and that's why you're thinking about Plan C. The idea of "saving the planet" is a bold goal that goes beyond what most would consider to be a "smaller, more achievable" goal. Indeed, "**to create a focal point for scientists and engineers interested in saving the planet, and to make clearly presented, accurate information on the relevant issues easy to find**" would be a major accomplishment but probably insufficient for saving the planet in any significant way.
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13.

#### Science versus politics and the perception of science

I'm not a scientist, but I've been studying them for a few years, and I'm trying to become one. As an outsider, one thing I've noticed—this is probably something you have noticed as well since you are not the typical scientist—is that scientific-style academic communication and with its emphasis on precision and accuracy is often perceived by scientists to be better communication. But communication is about conveying an idea or series of ideas from one mind to another group of minds. The receiver's perception is more important than the sender's intention. It doesn't matter what you mean to say, what matters is what the listener or reader hears and sees in their own mind. So scientific communication is only better when directed at scientists within the appropriate domain.

Nevertheless, science seems content to let the communication happen as an effect outside of science. There are a few "popularizers" here and there, but by normal communication standards most are not good communicators, and by scientific standards they are often not great scientists either. So sometimes people like Al Gore end up as the face of science, while most scientists are content to remain in the background. Then there the popular science rags like New Scientist, Popular Science, even Scientific American that cater more to the sensational than the correct, they are businesses that care about selling magazines or ads. Even the commercial scientific blogs care more about page views than about the truth of the science.

So part of the appeal of Plan C, is the idea that the communication of the plan won't be left to chance. It needs to be explained, promoted, improved, but most of all communicated clearly in terms that everyone will understand. The communication can't be left entirely to the existing set of actors and the existing systems or the ideas behind the plan will get misinterpreted and diluted.

And once you get into communication to non-scientists, I'm afraid you have inevitably crossed the thin line separating science and politics. Politics is inherently communication. It is about persuasion and influencing the minds of the electorate and their representatives. It is about creating beliefs.

But even apart from Plan C, the science of sustainability needs to be communicated clearly to a far greater crowd if we are to help save the world. So I don't see how you can communicate clearly to people outside of science without making decisions about priorities and therefore inevitably becoming political in the process.

The ideas of truth have natural enemies. Those enemies will exist whether you want them to or not, try to avoid them, or not. Enemies and ideas are the stuff of politics. I just don't see how you are going to separate them.

Moreover, I think that while this might seem to be the most expedient approach, it will be more helpful to embrace the inherent politics of an idea as important as saving the planet. Then you can figure out a way to accomplish that wider goal without setting unnatural limits. One of the ways you can do this is by simply offering choices.

For instance, Plan C might have a menu of choices representing a set of target goal prioritizations and with an exposition of the potential implications. For example:

Goal priorities:

Plan C.1 -

• Minimize loss of human life
• Minimize loss of ecosystem diversity
• Minimize economic costs

Plan C.2

• Minimize loss of human life
• Minimize economic costs
• Minimize loss of ecosystem diversity

Plan C.3

• Minimize economic costs
• Minimize loss of human life
• Minimize loss of ecosystem diversity

The mere presentation of these choices in this way is inherently political because it forces people to see the true choices that society is making by not acting. But this kind of presentation is honest and neutral even if it is political. It lets people draw their own conclusions. That is also the most persuasive form of communication.

Summing up: Plan C is too important a part of "saving the planet" to warrant removing it from the Azimuth Project. The Azimuth Project will be perceived as political no matter what we do because the truth has enemies. I think we should not try to avoid politics altogether so much as encourage civil debate and the presentation of alternatives, both on the wiki, and here in the discussion forum. We should be honest about our perspectives and biases rather than try to avoid them altogether as that is impossible. We should strive for honesty and credibility above all else.

Comment Source:#### Science versus politics and the perception of science I'm not a scientist, but I've been studying them for a few years, and I'm trying to become one. As an outsider, one thing I've noticed—this is probably something you have noticed as well since you are not the typical scientist—is that scientific-style academic communication and with its emphasis on precision and accuracy is often perceived by scientists to be better communication. But communication is about conveying an idea or series of ideas from one mind to another group of minds. The receiver's perception is more important than the sender's intention. It doesn't matter what you mean to say, what matters is what the listener or reader hears and sees in their own mind. So scientific communication is only better when directed at scientists within the appropriate domain. Nevertheless, science seems content to let the communication happen as an effect outside of science. There are a few "popularizers" here and there, but by normal communication standards most are not good communicators, and by scientific standards they are often not great scientists either. So sometimes people like Al Gore end up as the face of science, while most scientists are content to remain in the background. Then there the popular science rags like New Scientist, Popular Science, even Scientific American that cater more to the sensational than the correct, they are businesses that care about selling magazines or ads. Even the commercial scientific blogs care more about page views than about the truth of the science. So part of the appeal of [[Plan C]], is the idea that the communication of the plan won't be left to chance. It needs to be explained, promoted, improved, but most of all communicated clearly in terms that everyone will understand. The communication can't be left entirely to the existing set of actors and the existing systems or the ideas behind the plan will get misinterpreted and diluted. And once you get into communication to non-scientists, I'm afraid you have inevitably crossed the thin line separating science and politics. Politics is inherently communication. It is about persuasion and influencing the minds of the electorate and their representatives. It is about creating beliefs. But even apart from Plan C, the science of sustainability needs to be communicated clearly to a far greater crowd if we are to help save the world. So I don't see how you can communicate clearly to people outside of science without making decisions about priorities and therefore inevitably becoming political in the process. The ideas of truth have natural enemies. Those enemies will exist whether you want them to or not, try to avoid them, or not. Enemies and ideas are the stuff of politics. I just don't see how you are going to separate them. Moreover, I think that while this might seem to be the most expedient approach, it will be more helpful to embrace the inherent politics of an idea as important as saving the planet. Then you can figure out a way to accomplish that wider goal without setting unnatural limits. One of the ways you can do this is by simply offering choices. For instance, Plan C might have a menu of choices representing a set of target goal prioritizations and with an exposition of the potential implications. For example: Goal priorities: Plan C.1 - * Minimize loss of human life * Minimize loss of ecosystem diversity * Minimize economic costs Plan C.2 * Minimize loss of human life * Minimize economic costs * Minimize loss of ecosystem diversity Plan C.3 * Minimize economic costs * Minimize loss of human life * Minimize loss of ecosystem diversity The mere presentation of these choices in this way is inherently political because it forces people to see the true choices that society is making by not acting. But this kind of presentation is honest and neutral even if it is political. It lets people draw their own conclusions. That is also the most persuasive form of communication. Summing up: Plan C is too important a part of "saving the planet" to warrant removing it from the Azimuth Project. The Azimuth Project will be perceived as political no matter what we do because the truth has enemies. I think we should not try to avoid politics altogether so much as encourage civil debate and the presentation of alternatives, both on the wiki, and here in the discussion forum. We should be honest about our perspectives and biases rather than try to avoid them altogether as that is impossible. We should strive for honesty and credibility above all else.
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Slightly tangentially, I'm not sure that Plan C.1 -- C.3 is fitting the actual way people think. I actually don't think that the majority of people would put economic costs above human life in a situation where it was reasonably clear. To my mind, the stumbling block is that humans in general aren't very good at thinking about remote (whether in space or time) effects. Now when the loss of human life is in the signficant future, or possibly in far away lands on TV, it gets weighed much less than a more immediate (and hence more "accepted") publicised threat of having pay 50 euros more a year in taxes, or electricity bills, etc, next year.

One of the fascinating things about last year was watching the reaction to the GOM oil spill on various places around the internet. There are lots of places where the prevailing view is scathing of environmentalists and claims that the environment is in any way changing. Yet a lot of those people were talking about how this was an absolute environmental catastrophe that needed to be "nuked" now. The only thing that I can see that explains it is that there were various cameras sending images to the internet so that it seemed more "real and immediate" than things like computer projections. (They might argue "No, the difference is GOM was a real problem while climate change isn't", but that misses the point: what things led you to that conclusion? If you actually try and analytically figure out what a non-experienced watcher can see in those images, it's difficult to figure out: there's something that looks primarily like mud flowing around that I wouldn't be able to gauge the effect of.) I'm planning on writing a blog post on this, but it won't be for quite a while because I need to look for some more observational support.

Comment Source:Slightly tangentially, I'm not sure that Plan C.1 -- C.3 is fitting the actual way people think. I actually don't think that the majority of people would put economic costs above human life in a situation where it was reasonably clear. To my mind, the stumbling block is that humans in general aren't very good at thinking about remote (whether in space or time) effects. Now when the loss of human life is in the signficant future, or possibly in far away lands on TV, it gets weighed much less than a more immediate (and hence more "accepted") publicised threat of having pay 50 euros more a year in taxes, or electricity bills, etc, next year. One of the fascinating things about last year was watching the reaction to the GOM oil spill on various places around the internet. There are lots of places where the prevailing view is scathing of environmentalists and claims that the environment is in any way changing. Yet a lot of those people were talking about how this was an absolute environmental catastrophe that needed to be "nuked" now. The only thing that I can see that explains it is that there were various cameras sending images to the internet so that it seemed more "real and immediate" than things like computer projections. (They might argue "No, the difference is GOM was a real problem while climate change isn't", but that misses the point: what things led you to that conclusion? If you actually try and analytically figure out what a non-experienced watcher can see in those images, it's difficult to figure out: there's something that looks primarily like mud flowing around that I wouldn't be able to gauge the effect of.) I'm planning on writing a blog post on this, but it won't be for quite a while because I need to look for some more observational support.
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David Tweed wrote:

I'm not sure that Plan C.1 -- C.3 is fitting the actual way people think. I actually don't think that the majority of people would put economic costs above human life in a situation where it was reasonably clear. To my mind, the stumbling block is that humans in general aren't very good at thinking about remote (whether in space or time) effects.

Yes, exactly. That's the problem in a nutshell. People don't think this way. But they should. Most people, and the world in aggregate, are not making decisions about sustainability issues, they are doing nothing or defaulting to let others decide for them. The others with the most influence are the economic interests, so we have C.3 prioritizations.

Not imposing a carbon-tax because of the economic impact, for example, is effectively a statement of preference for Plan C.3 prioritization, as listed above. People will die. Ecosystems will be significantly harmed. We are trying to minimize costs as a global society. That is the choice we are making.

I don't think most people put money ahead of human life when the choice is clear. For example, how many millions were spent to rescue the Chilean miners? Yet those same millions could have saved thousands in other ways that didn't get spent because the link between spending the money and saving the lives is much less clear.

This is the reason why we need to lay out the choices in clear terms so people can see that doing nothing is effectively expressing Plan C.3 prioritization or something close to it. And we need to connect the dots so they can see what this means for the future with all the ugly uncertainty inherent in the reality of our insufficient knowledge.

We ought to try to put ranges of numbers of lives cost and affected for specific scenarios. How many people died in the Pakistan floods, for example? Hurricane Katrina? How many will die of starvation if food prices go up 200% because of droughts? How many will go malnourished? We can't know what the specifics are, but we can give decent estimates of the potential ranges based on actual events that have already occurred. This will help people see that real people will die if the Earth gets hotter.

But if we simply show the choices, we can let each individual decide what "ought" to happen, then perhaps more people will decide that it is important that our global society express different prioritization preferences.

Comment Source:David Tweed wrote: >I'm not sure that Plan C.1 -- C.3 is fitting the actual way people think. I actually don't think that the majority of people would put economic costs above human life in a situation where it was reasonably clear. To my mind, the stumbling block is that humans in general aren't very good at thinking about remote (whether in space or time) effects. Yes, exactly. That's the problem in a nutshell. People don't think this way. But they should. Most people, and the world in aggregate, are not making decisions about sustainability issues, they are doing nothing or defaulting to let others decide for them. The others with the most influence are the economic interests, so we have C.3 prioritizations. Not imposing a carbon-tax because of the economic impact, for example, is effectively a statement of preference for Plan C.3 prioritization, as listed above. People will die. Ecosystems will be significantly harmed. We are trying to minimize costs as a global society. That is the choice we are making. I don't think most people put money ahead of human life when the choice is clear. For example, how many millions were spent to rescue the Chilean miners? Yet those same millions could have saved thousands in other ways that didn't get spent because the link between spending the money and saving the lives is much less clear. This is the reason why we need to lay out the choices in clear terms so people can see that doing nothing is effectively expressing Plan C.3 prioritization or something close to it. And we need to connect the dots so they can see what this means for the future with all the ugly uncertainty inherent in the reality of our insufficient knowledge. We ought to try to put ranges of numbers of lives cost and affected for specific scenarios. How many people died in the Pakistan floods, for example? Hurricane Katrina? How many will die of starvation if food prices go up 200% because of droughts? How many will go malnourished? We can't know what the specifics are, but we can give decent estimates of the potential ranges based on actual events that have already occurred. This will help people see that real people will die if the Earth gets hotter. But if we simply show the choices, we can let each individual decide what "ought" to happen, then perhaps more people will decide that it is important that our global society express different prioritization preferences.
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edited January 2011

Curtis writes:

But if we simply show the choices, we can let each individual decide what "ought" to happen, then perhaps more people will decide that it is important that our global society express different prioritization preferences.

How about if we (someday) draft plans that clearly state what goals the plans are trying to achieve.

This would allow us to separate various issues that tend to be mixed up:

1. What are the goals?
2. How likely is it that the plan achieves these goals? What side-effects will occur?
3. Are the goals good?

Item 3 is hopelessly political — I don't see a way for people to settle on values except by "arguing it out" in the realm of politics, and I don't really want that argument to take over the Azimuth Project. But item 2 is about facts, not values. We don't need to agree on values to discuss item 2. And item 1 is something that ideally any good plan would make very clear: what the plan is trying to achieve.

In practice, most politicians currently propose plans whose goals are vaguely or even dishonestly stated, and the discussion of points 1, 2 and 3 are done simultaneously, in a kind of jumble.

Surely we can do a bit better than that.

One way might be to draft different plans that attempt to achieve different goals. That way, if someone says "I don't like those goals", we could simply say "Fine: say what your goals are, and try writing a plan that achieves those goals." If we focus on presenting options, and examining their consequences, we can let people make up their own mind which options they like.

Of course, we may want to focus on plans that lead to results we like. But it can also be very useful to study plans that lead to results we hate. For example: "If try to maximize fossil fuel production by doing X, Y, and Z, then the economy will boom until 2030, but then there is a 50% chance that we will run out of oil at about the time when weather disturbances start to cause major famines..."

(Or whatever, this is just an example, and a simplistic one.)

Comment Source:Curtis writes: > But if we simply show the choices, we can let each individual decide what "ought" to happen, then perhaps more people will decide that it is important that our global society express different prioritization preferences. This relates to an idea I had about "Plan C". How about if we (someday) draft plans that _**clearly state what goals the plans are trying to achieve**_. This would allow us to separate various issues that tend to be mixed up: 1. What are the goals? 1. How likely is it that the plan achieves these goals? What side-effects will occur? 1. Are the goals good? Item 3 is hopelessly political &mdash; I don't see a way for people to settle on values except by "arguing it out" in the realm of politics, and I don't really want that argument to take over the Azimuth Project. But item 2 is about facts, not values. We don't need to agree on values to discuss item 2. And item 1 is something that ideally any good plan would make very clear: _what the plan is trying to achieve_. In practice, most politicians currently propose plans whose goals are vaguely or even dishonestly stated, and the discussion of points 1, 2 and 3 are done simultaneously, in a kind of jumble. Surely we can do a bit better than that. One way might be to draft different plans that attempt to achieve different goals. That way, if someone says "I don't like those goals", we could simply say "Fine: say what your goals are, and try writing a plan that achieves _those_ goals." If we focus on presenting options, and examining their consequences, we can let people make up their own mind which options they like. Of course, we may want to focus on plans that lead to results we like. But it can also be very useful to study plans that lead to results we _**hate**_. For example: "If try to maximize fossil fuel production by doing X, Y, and Z, then the economy will boom until 2030, but then there is a 50% chance that we will run out of oil at about the time when weather disturbances start to cause major famines..." (Or whatever, this is just an example, and a simplistic one.)
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Curtis said:

...scientific-style academic communication and with its emphasis on precision and accuracy is often perceived by scientists to be better communication. But communication is about conveying an idea or series of ideas from one mind to another group of minds. The receiver's perception is more important than the sender's intention. It doesn't matter what you mean to say, what matters is what the listener or reader hears and sees in their own mind. So scientific communication is only better when directed at scientists within the appropriate domain.

Sure, scientific communication is about precise communication that works beyond cultural and language boundaries, and is very successful at that. Mathematicians communicate very successfully across all kinds of cultural boundaries, for example. This requires some effort on the side of the receiver, in the case of mathematics one could say that the whole first year of education is spent in teaching and learning how to communicate math. My understanding of the Azimuth project was and is that this is the reason why we focus on scientists and engineers as a target audience, because we then can assume that this kind of communication is known and works.

But when you say

So part of the appeal of Plan C, is the idea that the communication of the plan won't be left to chance. It needs to be explained, promoted, improved, but most of all communicated clearly in terms that everyone will understand. The communication can't be left entirely to the existing set of actors and the existing systems or the ideas behind the plan will get misinterpreted and diluted.

you seem to think about a more general audience than that. I think we'll run into severe problems if we try to extend the reach of the Azimuth project in this way. I very much doubt that we can address a global audience in a succinct way, even the most successful politicians cannot do that, they concentrate on some majority of their home countries. And I doubt that we can reach out to a more general audience without scaring away people we would like to work with.

Well, maybe some of us should spend some time promoting concrete plans of action to a more general audience, but I'd still recommend that this should be done somewhere else, and not on the Azimuth project. Any such initiative is free to refer to Azimuth as a source of information, of course.

Comment Source:Curtis said: <blockquote> <p> ...scientific-style academic communication and with its emphasis on precision and accuracy is often perceived by scientists to be better communication. But communication is about conveying an idea or series of ideas from one mind to another group of minds. The receiver's perception is more important than the sender's intention. It doesn't matter what you mean to say, what matters is what the listener or reader hears and sees in their own mind. So scientific communication is only better when directed at scientists within the appropriate domain. </p> </blockquote> Sure, scientific communication is about precise communication that works beyond cultural and language boundaries, and is very successful at that. Mathematicians communicate very successfully across all kinds of cultural boundaries, for example. This requires some effort on the side of the receiver, in the case of mathematics one could say that the whole first year of education is spent in teaching and learning how to communicate math. My understanding of the Azimuth project was and is that this is the reason why we focus on scientists and engineers as a target audience, because we then can assume that this kind of communication is known and works. But when you say <blockquote> <p> So part of the appeal of Plan C, is the idea that the communication of the plan won't be left to chance. It needs to be explained, promoted, improved, but most of all communicated clearly in terms that everyone will understand. The communication can't be left entirely to the existing set of actors and the existing systems or the ideas behind the plan will get misinterpreted and diluted. </p> </blockquote> you seem to think about a more general audience than that. I think we'll run into severe problems if we try to extend the reach of the Azimuth project in this way. I very much doubt that we can address a global audience in a succinct way, even the most successful politicians cannot do that, they concentrate on some majority of their home countries. And I doubt that we can reach out to a more general audience without scaring away people we would like to work with. Well, maybe some of us should spend some time promoting concrete plans of action to a more general audience, but I'd still recommend that this should be done somewhere else, and not on the Azimuth project. Any such initiative is free to refer to Azimuth as a source of information, of course.
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I think we'll run into severe problems if we try to extend the reach of the Azimuth project in this way. I very much doubt that we can address a global audience in a succinct way, even the most successful politicians cannot do that, they concentrate on some majority of their home countries. And I doubt that we can reach out to a more general audience without scaring away people we would like to work with.

I agree with Tim. Of course, I don't want to sound restrictive, every person who is not a scientist or an engineer and wants to use Azimuth as a source of information is very much welcome, but keeping the "scientists and engineers" as our imaginary target public will help us focus on the science.

As far as the working out of Plan C remains scientifical, it could still be part of the Azimuth project. Selling it afterwards to a broad public is perhaps better done separately. In any case, we haven't got any plan C yet, so I don't want to spend too much effort in discussing.

Sidenote:

This requires some effort on the side of the receiver

which is rewarded by the value of the message ;-)

So if our message here is good enough, we can demand some effort from the reader.

Comment Source:> I think we'll run into severe problems if we try to extend the reach of the Azimuth project in this way. I very much doubt that we can address a global audience in a succinct way, even the most successful politicians cannot do that, they concentrate on some majority of their home countries. And I doubt that we can reach out to a more general audience without scaring away people we would like to work with. I agree with Tim. Of course, I don't want to sound restrictive, every person who is not a scientist or an engineer and wants to use Azimuth as a source of information is very much welcome, but keeping the "scientists and engineers" as our imaginary target public will help us focus on the science. As far as the working out of Plan C remains scientifical, it could still be part of the Azimuth project. Selling it afterwards to a broad public is perhaps better done separately. In any case, we haven't got any plan C yet, so I don't want to spend too much effort in discussing. Sidenote: > This requires some effort on the side of the receiver which is rewarded by the value of the message ;-) So if our message here is good enough, we can demand some effort from the reader.
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It would be great if people want to take stuff developed by the Azimuth Project and promote it, explain it so nonscientists can understand it, and so on.

Whether this operation gets called 'The Azimuth Project' or something else... we can decide that when people start actually doing it. I get the feeling that Curtis wants to start doing it, while Tim and Frederik don't personally want to start doing it. But that's fine: we can't all do everything, so we shouldn't all try. We should each do what we're best at.

Comment Source:It would be great if people want to take stuff developed by the Azimuth Project and promote it, explain it so nonscientists can understand it, and so on. Whether this operation gets called 'The Azimuth Project' or something else... we can decide that when people start actually doing it. I get the feeling that Curtis wants to start doing it, while Tim and Frederik don't _personally_ want to start doing it. But that's fine: we can't all do everything, so we shouldn't all try. We should each do what we're best at.
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edited February 2011

Tim van Beek wrote:

But when you say ... [SNIP] ... you seem to think about a more general audience than that. I think we'll run into severe problems if we try to extend the reach of the Azimuth project in this way. I very much doubt that we can address a global audience in a succinct way, even the most successful politicians cannot do that, they concentrate on some majority of their home countries. And I doubt that we can reach out to a more general audience without scaring away people we would like to work with.

Frederick de Roo wrote:

I don't want to sound restrictive, every person who is not a scientist or an engineer and wants to use Azimuth as a source of information is very much welcome, but keeping the "scientists and engineers" as our imaginary target public will help us focus on the science.

There is plenty to do now that involves bringing in new scientists and engineers and helping them understand the information we already have, as well as expanding that information to fill out the holes. I don't think it makes sense to target Azimuth at some other audience. This might be true for a long while. If we can get even a tiny percentage of the engineers and scientists on the planet to be aware of the Azimuth Project that will be a huge accomplishment, so we don't need to step outside that audience to be successful as a project.

I think this is a matter of timing and staging. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, there is a primary need to compile information about the science of sustainability. This will be true up until we have enough information and people to start writing Plan C. At that point, the need to compile and present information targeted at scientists and engineers will continue, but there will also then start to be a need to target a wider audience, IMHO. Ideally, if we are going to undertake such a large task as writing Plan C, then we'd want that plan to be widely communicated and understood.

It is only when we look at the larger goal of saving the planet that the wider audience becomes relevant.

John Baez wrote:

It would be great if people want to take stuff developed by the Azimuth Project and promote it, explain it so nonscientists can understand it, and so on.

Whether this operation gets called 'The Azimuth Project' or something else... we can decide that when people start actually doing it. I get the feeling that Curtis wants to start doing it, while Tim and Frederik don't personally want to start doing it.

John is correct, I'm interested in making sure the promotion and explanation of stuff developed by the Azimuth Project eventually happens, even if it means that I have to do a lot of work myself. I don't think that I should start now, but I am interested in doing this down the road at some point, perhaps six months to a year from now. The reason I wanted to address these issues now, is that I don't want anyone to be upset down the road if I start working on documents/projects that do indeed explain the ideas in Azimuth to a wider audience, as that is clearly not its current charter. And as John said, we can decide down the road whether that becomes an outreach program of the Azimuth Project or something else.

Comment Source:Tim van Beek wrote: >But when you say ... [SNIP] ... you seem to think about a more general audience than that. I think we'll run into severe problems if we try to extend the reach of the Azimuth project in this way. I very much doubt that we can address a global audience in a succinct way, even the most successful politicians cannot do that, they concentrate on some majority of their home countries. And I doubt that we can reach out to a more general audience without scaring away people we would like to work with. Frederick de Roo wrote: >I don't want to sound restrictive, every person who is not a scientist or an engineer and wants to use Azimuth as a source of information is very much welcome, but keeping the "scientists and engineers" as our imaginary target public will help us focus on the science. There is plenty to do now that involves bringing in new scientists and engineers and helping them understand the information we already have, as well as expanding that information to fill out the holes. I don't think it makes sense to target Azimuth at some other audience. This might be true for a long while. If we can get even a tiny percentage of the engineers and scientists on the planet to be aware of the Azimuth Project that will be a huge accomplishment, so we don't need to step outside that audience to be successful as a project. I think this is a matter of timing and staging. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, there is a primary need to compile information about the science of sustainability. This will be true up until we have enough information and people to start writing Plan C. At that point, the need to compile and present information targeted at scientists and engineers will continue, but there will also then start to be a need to target a wider audience, IMHO. Ideally, if we are going to undertake such a large task as writing Plan C, then we'd want that plan to be widely communicated and understood. It is only when we look at the larger goal of saving the planet that the wider audience becomes relevant. John Baez wrote: >It would be great if people want to take stuff developed by the Azimuth Project and promote it, explain it so nonscientists can understand it, and so on. >Whether this operation gets called 'The Azimuth Project' or something else... we can decide that when people start actually doing it. I get the feeling that Curtis wants to start doing it, while Tim and Frederik don't personally want to start doing it. John is correct, I'm interested in making sure the promotion and explanation of stuff developed by the Azimuth Project _eventually_ happens, even if it means that I have to do a lot of work myself. I don't think that I should start now, but I am interested in doing this down the road at some point, perhaps six months to a year from now. The reason I wanted to address these issues now, is that I don't want anyone to be upset down the road if I start working on documents/projects that do indeed explain the ideas in Azimuth to a wider audience, as that is clearly not its current charter. And as John said, we can decide down the road whether that becomes an outreach program of the Azimuth Project or something else.
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Here is an interesting blog post, Communicating Climate Change, which addresses the concerns I have with leaving the communication to the broader world to others.

Comment Source:Here is an interesting blog post, [Communicating Climate Change](http://www.10waystosavetheworld.net/communicating-climate-change), which addresses the concerns I have with leaving the communication to the broader world to others.
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22.

John said, back in comment 12:

So I don't quite understand what you want to do, which you think is forbidden by our current policy. Do you want us to start trying to persuade governments to increase funding in certain areas? Or persuade people that their governments should do this?

I don't want to do either of those things personally. I'd rather be thinking about stochastic differential equations, for example, than anything to so with politics or persuasion (like most people here I guess) . Nor do I think that the Azimuth Project should start doing these things any time soon. However I don't think the Azimuth Project can be apolitical.

Many scientific societies have among their aims things like

• promote research into X-ology.

• educate the public about the importance and the benefits of X-ology.

and these aims are biased in favour of X-ology, and depending on what X is, can be political. At the moment, the Azimuth Project appears biased in favour of certain areas of research and development (as shown by the bit I quoted in comment 10). I think this implicit bias should be made explicit. We should say what our "X" is.

Similarly

The Azimuth Project is an international collaboration to create a focal point for scientists and engineers interested in saving the planet.

contains implicit biases. It implicitly contains 'internationalist values', it suggests a global perspective, and a lot of people and politicians don't have either of those things. I think it is better to be explicit.

Some people will be politically offended ("unpatriotic liberal academics - they should be trying to save My Country", and so on and so forth). But I don't think it is possible to avoid offence, and it is better to be clear about who you are prepared to offend.

At the moment, the Azimuth Project appears to me to be politcally niave, unworldly. But there's also the danger that it appears to be claiming to be above politics when it can't be.

Comment Source:John said, back in comment 12: > So I don't quite understand what you want to do, which you think is forbidden by our current policy. Do you want us to start trying to persuade governments to increase funding in certain areas? Or persuade people that their governments should do this? I don't want to do either of those things personally. I'd rather be thinking about [[stochastic differential equations]], for example, than anything to so with politics or persuasion (like most people here I guess) . Nor do I think that the Azimuth Project should start doing these things any time soon. However I don't think the Azimuth Project can be apolitical. Many scientific societies have among their aims things like * promote research into X-ology. * educate the public about the importance and the benefits of X-ology. and these aims are biased in favour of X-ology, and depending on what X is, can be political. At the moment, the Azimuth Project appears biased in favour of certain areas of research and development (as shown by the bit I quoted in comment 10). I think this implicit bias should be made explicit. We should say what our "X" is. Similarly > The Azimuth Project is an international collaboration to create a focal point for scientists and engineers interested in saving the planet. contains implicit biases. It implicitly contains 'internationalist values', it suggests a global perspective, and a lot of people and politicians don't have either of those things. I think it is better to be explicit. Some people will be politically offended ("unpatriotic liberal academics - they should be trying to save My Country", and so on and so forth). But I don't think it is possible to avoid offence, and it is better to be clear about who you are prepared to offend. At the moment, the Azimuth Project appears to me to be politcally niave, unworldly. But there's also the danger that it appears to be claiming to be above politics when it can't be.
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It implicitly contains 'internationalist values', it suggests a global perspective, and a lot of people and politicians don't have either of those things. I think it is better to be explicit.

I never thought about this, but I think you are right about the implicit ideas. So we can just as well be explicit — at least if we manage to write it in a way that none of us disagrees with. We should also avoid formulations that appear too "Esotoric".

Anyway, there's only one habitable planet so far, so if we think at a global level, it's not unlogical to think internationalistic.

Comment Source:> It implicitly contains 'internationalist values', it suggests a global perspective, and a lot of people and politicians don't have either of those things. I think it is better to be explicit. I never thought about this, but I think you are right about the implicit ideas. So we can just as well be explicit &mdash; at least if we manage to write it in a way that none of us disagrees with. We should also avoid formulations that appear too "Esotoric". Anyway, there's only one habitable planet so far, so if we think at a global level, it's not unlogical to think internationalistic.
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24.

Graham said:

...contains implicit biases.

To me they are rather explicit. I don't think that a republican from Texas could misunderstand this statement and think Azimuth is about the collaboration of scientists and engineers in and for the USA to develop better weapons to hunt down Taliban, for example.

But I don't think it is possible to avoid offence, and it is better to be clear about who you are prepared to offend.

? Should we write "we intend to offend conservative nationalilsts, but we are sorry if any liberal left wing internationalists find anything here offensive"? I think people are pretty good and accurate about figuring out what offends them by themselves.

At the moment, the Azimuth Project appears to me to be politcally niave, unworldly. But there's also the danger that it appears to be claiming to be above politics when it can't be.

Does Azimuth claim to be above politics? I thought it said that any kind of political discussions should be taken elsewhere, and that we'd try to discuss information as objectively as possible. The selection of what kind of information is interesting is of course a biased, subjective decision and cannot be otherwise, and that is explained by the mission statement.

See, we may disagree upon global warming and its implications for action plans for governments, but we can still work together, find and document information about global warming, assess climate models etc. We can agree that we won't discuss political differences here on Azimuth, but that does not imply that there is no political bias at all, or that Azimuth is "above" politics. It's about the agreement that the Azimuth forum is less like the forum romanum, and more like the forum of a scientific academy.

Comment Source:Graham said: <blockquote> <p> ...contains implicit biases. </p> </blockquote> To me they are rather explicit. I don't think that a republican from Texas could misunderstand this statement and think Azimuth is about the collaboration of scientists and engineers in and for the USA to develop better weapons to hunt down Taliban, for example. <blockquote> <p> But I don't think it is possible to avoid offence, and it is better to be clear about who you are prepared to offend. </p> </blockquote> ? Should we write "we intend to offend conservative nationalilsts, but we are sorry if any liberal left wing internationalists find anything here offensive"? I think people are pretty good and accurate about figuring out what offends them by themselves. <blockquote> <p> At the moment, the Azimuth Project appears to me to be politcally niave, unworldly. But there's also the danger that it appears to be claiming to be above politics when it can't be. </p> </blockquote> Does Azimuth claim to be above politics? I thought it said that any kind of <i>political discussions</i> should be taken elsewhere, and that we'd try to discuss information as objectively as possible. The selection of what kind of information is interesting is of course a biased, subjective decision and cannot be otherwise, and that is explained by the mission statement. See, we may disagree upon global warming and its implications for action plans for governments, but we can still work together, find and document information about global warming, assess climate models etc. We can agree that we won't discuss political differences here on Azimuth, but that does not imply that there is no political bias at all, or that Azimuth is "above" politics. It's about the agreement that the Azimuth forum is less like the forum romanum, and more like the forum of a scientific academy.