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Bloggingheads
04-29-2008, 02:26 PM

Dilan Esper
04-29-2008, 03:27 PM
Re: the participants' introductions of each other.

What is this? A re-run of "What's My Line" from the 1950's? And on Dan's left, syndicated columnist and author of the "Voice of Broadway", Dorothy Kilgallen!

threep
04-29-2008, 03:39 PM
God these two hate each other.

Joel_Cairo
04-29-2008, 04:05 PM
Nuts. So close. This diavlog made it over an hour before this (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/10631?in=01:32:34&out=01:32:36) came up. Brendan's dream almost came true. Instead, I guess we'll just all have to sit tight and wait for kidneystones and DT to weight in with thier opinion on the matter.

bkjazfan
04-29-2008, 04:30 PM
Dan,

You have a bad habit which I share with you : saying "you know" too many times. When you are talking and have completed your thought and thinking on what to say next, try not to say "you know." I am attempting to rid myself of saying "you know."

John

basman
04-29-2008, 04:30 PM
...threep wrote on 04/29/2008 at 03:39 PM
Re: Bitter Academics Who Torture

God these two hate each other...


Really? Where was there any sign of that?

abycats
04-29-2008, 04:40 PM
Rules of practice for lawyers are enforced by courts. The courts are in charge of who is admitted to practice before them and who is disbarred. There is an administrative framework around all this, often pretty detailed, which supervises the bar exams, examines grievances etc. The canons of ethics are usually adopted by the court.
The ABA is a national club. Some states require membership in their state bar associations as a condition of being licensed to practice. In these states, the association may have a formal administrative role with grievances etc. I don't know. The state bar associations I have known are always happy to buzz around, taking positions on legislation etc but they are only clubs. They do not admit or disbar anyone.

a Duoist
04-29-2008, 05:13 PM
Which is worse: whining academics or ideological intellectuals?

Eastwest
04-29-2008, 06:26 PM
A wee bit tedious, but actually not so bad.

However, it was an overly-long, unnecessarily discursive exercise. (There was maybe 40 minutes total material in there.)

MM redeemed herself somewhat in my mind. Her Greenwald matchup seemed unfortunate in the extreme, so bad that I feared she was incapable of hitching together rational sequiturs.

Much better this time. I no longer think of her in terms of "weapons-grade intellectual inadequacy."

Thanks to both. I'm so relieved now that I walked away from grad school after two years.

EW

bjkeefe
04-29-2008, 07:43 PM
Joel:

Your dingalink points to a time past the endpoint. Care to reexamine the numbers? I think I get your point, though.

bjkeefe
04-29-2008, 08:12 PM
Dan made a point toward the end, during the decline-of-discourse discussion, about the left having become enamored of tactics that we might call "Rovian" and how much that displeased him. I take his point, and certainly, there are any number of examples that I can come up with in support of his feeling. The latest, it seems to me, is the ranting displeasure expressed in much of the leftosphere about Obama going on Fox.

However, I think he has forgotten how politically ineffective the left was when only the right was engaging in these tactics and the left was much more trying to "elevate" the discourse or "stay above it." Sometimes, the only way to fight fire is with fire. And even if one questions the worthiness, the instinct to reach for this approach is understandable, and should be, for Dan as a political scientist.

Obviously, the short term result has been an increase in the overall amount of unpleasantness. On the other hand, we no longer believe that there is a chance of a permanent Republican majority. It's reasonable to believe, then, that the left adopting more of the right's tactics has had some positive effect, at least from their (our) point of view. So, again, it's either disingenuous or overly idealistic of Dan as a political scientist not to express awareness of this.

It seems to me a parallel example can be had by looking at the much more confrontational approach recently shown by some atheists. For a long time, fundamentalist religious types were allowed to engage in their practices unchallenged, and their political clout grew accordingly. In many cases, most people did not particularly agree with the goals of the fundamentalists, but trying to reason with them, ignore them, or whatever else didn't work. When the Four Horseman galloped into town, however, the game changed. You can argue about whether they go too far, or whether they make the whole issue more volatile, but I don't think you can argue that their motivation wasn't understandable and their effectiveness wasn't non-trivial.

On a related note: Another thing that it seems like Dan (and Megan) failed to consider is that it is not just online discourse that is ever more strident, dichotomous, and heated. TV and radio have long been this way, and the first lesson that these media showed is that the more outraged or outrageous the tone of a show, the better it did. Even media outlets who pride themselves on more measured tones tend to cover every issue from a he-said/she-said angle. So, it's not like the example wasn't plainly there before the blogosphere even existed.

On an unrelated note: I did like the discussion about John Yoo a lot.

dankingbooks
04-29-2008, 08:13 PM
Academics & journalists have the same problem: the internet renders them (partially) obsolete. There are hundreds of thousands of people (e.g., Dan Drezner) who write as well as any columnist for the NY Times. There is no way the Times can pay all those people, so they won't pay any of them. Thus the job of professional journalist becomes an unpaid, volunteer hobby. Ever heard of Pajamas Media anybody?

Likewise, there are hundreds of thousands of people who are as wise politically as anybody at the Fletcher School of Diplomacy (e.g., Dan Drezner). There is no way the academic journals will continue to have a monopoly on this potential material, and hence they will no longer be able to charge subscription fees, nor will library subscriptions be the way scholarship is distributed. Hence scholarship in political science (and all other non-laboratory sciences) becomes a free commodity.

This is the last decade for the University. Pity.

bjkeefe
04-29-2008, 08:22 PM
I don't agree, Dan. I think the blogosphere has a long way to go before it will be able to compete in some areas of journalism; e.g., straight reporting and investigative journalism. There have been some examples, like TPM on the attorney firings and the rightosphere on what became Rathergate, but mostly, the blogosphere at present competes best only in some areas; e.g., analysis, fact-checking, and opinionating.

I think it's similar for the academy. There is a lot to be said for original research, and while there are some who do real, solid, and original work without academic affiliation, I don't think they'll be able to replace what the university environment offers. There's the reality of getting paid, obviously, but there is also the whole environment of working closely, day in and day out, with other people also on the leading edge. I'll grant that some fields in academia seemed to have wrung all they can out of their topics, but in general, there is still plenty of work to be done. I'm not saying the university will always be the only way to go, but I don't think we need to make an either/or choice.

David Thomson
04-29-2008, 08:35 PM
Soft science PhDs will become really “bitter” if people like me have their way. I am adamantly convinced that the credentialing process should cease at the bachelor’s degree level. Anyone who goes further than that often is turned into a second rate academic whore. The leftist establishment makes sure that they slut it out good on behalf of the Democratic Party and big government Republicans. This is usually the only way one acquires tenure.

bjkeefe
04-29-2008, 08:38 PM
DT:

Sounds like you've been spending a lot of time reading this page (http://www.conservapedia.com/Professor_values).

bjkeefe
04-29-2008, 08:44 PM
Dan:

And as for Pajamas Media: If they can make their operation work, it is going to be by making enough in advertising revenue to be able to keep their stable of bloggers going. And if they can do this, why can't any other media organization? Several fairly substantial newspapers that have been around for decades have recently gone Web-only.

The real worry is what happens if the online ad revenues never get big enough to support the expensive side of production. I'm thinking here particularly of investigative journalism, which can take months of work with no guarantee of results.

graz
04-29-2008, 08:50 PM
Soft science PhDs will become really “bitter” if people like me have their way.
Not just soft science PHDs, most everyone conscious of your ascendancy to power, will follow in kidneystones path and pray each and every day and ask why, why, why?

David Thomson
04-29-2008, 09:06 PM
John Yoo is trying to deal with the awkward and uneasy responsibility of our government to protect its citizens. What constitutes torture? Is keeping them awake for over 24 hours an example of torture? What if they are made to listen to the best of Britney Spears? How far can we go--- especially if the suspect possesses information, which can save the lives of millions? Where do we draw the line? These valid questions do not disappear merely because one wishes to ignore them. Unfortunately, the leftist academic whores are attempting to squash dissenting opinions. The PhD system encourages this sort of nonsense. It provides the opportunity for those in power to make sure the candidate is willing to whore it out good. What is perhaps the number question anyone should ask themselves after receiving their doctorate? The answer is easy: How do I get my self-respect back?

graz
04-29-2008, 09:09 PM
John Yoo is trying to deal with the awkward and uneasy responsibility of our government to protect its citizens. What constitutes torture? What if they are made to listen to the best of Britney Spears? How far can we go

You make a fine point there.

bjkeefe
04-29-2008, 09:20 PM
DT:

How far can we go--- especially if the suspect possesses information, which can save the lives of millions?

How often does this happen, excluding on 24?

And what is wrong with the argument Megan made, which many of us here have also made in other threads debating state-sanctioned torture? The idea is this: keep torture illegal, and if the blue moon rises and we really do have a "ticking time bomb" scenario, let the interrogator decide whether the risk of being punished is outweighed by his sense of duty to protect the public. We ask soldiers, cops, firefighters, etc., to take worse risks in their line of duty than threat of punishment, after all.

And there's also the reality of how such a scenario would play out. If an interrogator tortures a prisoner and truly stops the ticking time bomb as a result, don't you think it's reasonable to believe that the interrogator would suffer little or no punishment? I suspect the worse that would happen is a dog-and-pony show of an investigation, pious condemnations of his actions with plenty of on-the-other-hands pointing out that this was a unique case, and at most a transfer or early retirement with full pension. I think it even more likely that no punishment at all would happen.

Since I contend that the above scenario is extraordinarily unlikely -- you have to have both the ticking bomb and the suspect in custody (and let alone how one might know that the suspect knows anything in the first place), I don't see that this supports making torture legal; i.e., sanctioning it as an approved practice in which the state's representatives can regularly participate.

Joel_Cairo
04-29-2008, 09:26 PM
Your dingalink points to a time past the endpoint. Care to reexamine the numbers? I think I get your point, though.

Strange. I guess maybe the diavlog was reformatted or edited again after posting? I watched a 1hour+ version just this afternoon; maybe I'll watch again and see what was censored out.

I'll give you a hint what the dinga linked to "Ayers-_____-Rezko"

bjkeefe
04-29-2008, 09:29 PM
Strange. I guess maybe the diavlog was reformatted or edited again after posting? I watched a 1hour+ version just this afternoon; maybe I'll watch again and see what was censored out.

I'll give you a hint what the dinga linked to "Ayers-_____-Rezko"

Could be. The version I watched was about 1:09 in length (downloaded WMV -- the stream wasn't working) and your dingalink starts at 1:32. I tried a couple of digit substitutions under the assumption of typos, but didn't find anything that seemed right.

The version I saw did have a stoppage in the middle that Dan and Megan acknowledged, but I don't think that was the editing you're guessing about.

On the other hand, I don't remember them saying anything about Ayers, so maybe you did see an earlier, longer version. Or I blocked it out. ;^)

David Thomson
04-29-2008, 09:54 PM
"And what is wrong with the argument Megan made, which many of us here have also made in other threads debating state-sanctioned torture?"

One should know that they risk imprisonment if they feel compelled to torture. Nonetheless, they should also know that there will not be a price to pay if society deems the act necessary. The citizenry must demand that the government creates rules and regulations to guide its soldiers and police officials. Making people play guessing games during a critical time is utterly ridiculous and unjustified.

Daniel Drezner also worries too much about a number of our childishly immature allies who are upset with detailed torture policies. Such individuals will simply find another reason to vent their displeasure. They are dishonest pacifists and envious of our country's power and wealth. We should politely treat them similarly to teen age brats---and therefore ask them to leave the room so the adults can get back to work. Yuppie left-wing Americans claim not to be interested in war. Alas, like someone else once said---war may still be interested in you.

nojp
04-29-2008, 10:19 PM
listening to mcardle is a boundary case

she catches herself watching her image in the web cam and smile admiringly
over and over and over

bjkeefe
04-29-2008, 11:03 PM
DT:

Daniel Drezner also worries too much about a number of our childishly immature allies who are upset with detailed torture policies. Such individuals will simply find another reason to vent their displeasure.

Maybe true, but at least we'd be taking away one excuse. And in any case, this is not an argument that makes me think we should say, "Oh, what the hell. Everyone is going to hate us anyway. Might as well torture." We should hold ourselves to our own standards; which include observing the spirit of our Constitution and the international treaties that we've signed.

Yuppie left-wing Americans claim not to be interested in war.

Not seeing a whole lot of College Republicans or YAF dorks signing up for military service, either, Dave. Or many other eligible-to-serve types. E.g. (http://draftgoldfarb.blogspot.com/2008/04/draft-michael-goldfarb.html)

tickknob
04-29-2008, 11:04 PM
I assumed they were going to tell us what these bitter Academics 'cling' to because of their piteous lives. I didn't expect it to be guns or religion but I did expect they would come up with something.

Bloggin' Noggin
04-29-2008, 11:47 PM
Wow! Take it away, Megan (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/10631?in=01:04:25&out=01:04:46)! Has she been reading BHtv comments? Did she read my mind? Anyway, thanks for saying it Megan!

Was your recipe too pro-Obama? Did it not sufficiently make the case that Obama was a horrible person because he doesn't believe America is as racist as it really is? Perhaps when the ingredients were stirred together that implied that Americans could come together despite differences of race and class.

More likely it's just that tofu is just so very blue-state, wine-track, latte-liberal a food.
Not to attack the recipe myself, but I have to admit my reaction to any recipe containing tofu is about like Dan's. (Gosh, does that make Dan and me Hillary supporters?)

David Thomson
04-29-2008, 11:58 PM
"We should hold ourselves to our own standards; which include observing the spirit of our Constitution and the international treaties that we've signed."

No viable government can completely outlaw torture. That would be utterly ridiculous. It can, however, write laws to severely limit the practice to the most extraordinary circumstances. Absolutism of any sort rarely works well in human affairs.

Wonderment
04-30-2008, 12:12 AM
No viable government can completely outlaw torture.

Whatever, Dave.

bjkeefe
04-30-2008, 12:39 AM
Not to attack the recipe myself, but I have to admit my reaction to any recipe containing tofu is about like Dan's. (Gosh, does that make Dan and me Hillary supporters?)

I used to shudder at the thought of tofu, too. I recommend getting started with it via Vietnamese or Thai cooking. It gets firmed up in texture through frying or sauteeing, and really holds flavors and sauces well.

I have yet to cook any myself, but I like it when other people serve it.

BTW, your dingalink points to section that is all Dan talking. This is weird -- evidently you and Joel watched some other version than the one currently posted.

bjkeefe
04-30-2008, 12:41 AM
Yeah, I agree with Wonderment. Seems to me we did pretty well on this score for the first couple hundred years of our country. I'm not saying torture never happened, but we got along well enough with it being illegal.

Megan McArdle
04-30-2008, 12:43 AM
You saw a differen diavlog than I did . . . or at least, I have no memory of having discussed Ayers or Rezko.

bjkeefe
04-30-2008, 01:06 AM
Thanks for letting me know my Alzheimer's isn't progressing as fast as I thought, Megan.

Wonderment
04-30-2008, 01:34 AM
Very mysterious. If Joel produces the tape, I will be seeking an indictment. Or we can bring in David Whaziname to perform some Enhanced Interrogation.

Yours Truly,
Blogging Heads self-appointed DA, Wonderment

look
04-30-2008, 01:41 AM
The answer is quite simple, my dear fellows. Joel provided a hint in the form of a blank. That blank when filled, will be revealed to be Obama or Wright, whom I believe were both discussed at the end of the diavlog, against Brendan's expressed wish that speculation about the presidential race be given a rest.

-look, Scotland Yard

Eastwest
04-30-2008, 02:04 AM
Not to attack the recipe myself, but I have to admit my reaction to any recipe containing tofu is about like Dan's. (Gosh, does that make Dan and me Hillary supporters?)

No, it doesn't make you a Hillary supporter.

It does however reveal your status as a culinary neophyte.

As a 40-year vegetarian converted from deep allegiance to home-grilled New York steaks, barbecued chicken, etc., I can say that tofu, properly prepared, can be made in taste, texture, and satisfaction, superior to any meat.

Chinese Buddhist grandmas do it best, and in about 50 amazingly different ways. Most in the west are still just learning and so it's not surprising we find most of those efforts uninspired if not out-and-out repellant.

I suspect MM's recipe is a pleasant exception. Folks with epicurean tendencies are performing new miracles every day.

EW

Bloggin' Noggin
04-30-2008, 05:17 PM
BTW, your dingalink points to section that is all Dan talking. This is weird -- evidently you and Joel watched some other version than the one currently posted.

That's peculiar. When I look at it, it's Megan all right. I wonder if the dingalinks are now relative to whether one is watching at 1.4 or 1 speed.

I'll try to keep an open mind about Tofu. Not sure I can follow EW's advice and find a Chinese grandma to cook it for me. Maybe I'll try it at a Vietnamese place some time, though I suspect someone else will have to order it.

bjkeefe
04-30-2008, 05:54 PM
BN:

That's peculiar. When I look at it, it's Megan all right. I wonder if the dingalinks are now relative to whether one is watching at 1.4 or 1 speed.

That might be it. Are you a 1.4 man? I watch at 1.0.

I'll try to keep an open mind about Tofu. Not sure I can follow EW's advice and find a Chinese grandma to cook it for me. Maybe I'll try it at a Vietnamese place some time, though I suspect someone else will have to order it.

Try an appetizer, maybe. Or a dish with lots of vegetables and sauce. You can always pick out the hunks of tofu if you don't like them. Tofu doesn't spread its flavor to other ingredients, not that it has much of a distinctive flavor in the first place. It is more of an absorber.

The biggest problem for me with tofu originally was its texture. I find the way it is prepared in Vietnamese and Thai cooking makes it have a firmer bite, about the same feel as cooked portobello mushroom in some Italian dishes.

'Course, you don't like spinach and okra, either, so maybe the mushroom comparison won't help, either. But I think it's worth at least giving tofu a try -- it's good, good for you, and it would be an environmentally good thing if we Americans started getting some of our protein from this source instead of meat.

graz
04-30-2008, 06:49 PM
BN:



That might be it. Are you a 1.4 man? I watch at 1.0.



Try an appetizer, maybe. Or a dish with lots of vegetables and sauce. You can always pick out the hunks of tofu if you don't like them. Tofu doesn't spread its flavor to other ingredients, not that it has much of a distinctive flavor in the first place. It is more of an absorber.

The biggest problem for me with tofu originally was its texture. I find the way it is prepared in Vietnamese and Thai cooking makes it have a firmer bite, about the same feel as cooked portobello mushroom in some Italian dishes.

'Course, you don't like spinach and okra, either, so maybe the mushroom comparison won't help, either. But I think it's worth at least giving tofu a try -- it's good, good for you, and it would be an environmentally good thing if we Americans started getting some of our protein from this source instead of meat.

Brendan:

That's just great, when kidneystones returns he will hereafter refer to all his opponents as tofu-eaters. Nice.

bjkeefe
04-30-2008, 07:20 PM
That's just great, when kidneystones returns he will hereafter refer to all his opponents as tofu-eaters. Nice.

You've seen through my devious scheme, which was to take "Brie-eaters" off the table.

Thus Spoke Elvis
04-30-2008, 07:23 PM
Yeah, I agree with Wonderment. Seems to me we did pretty well on this score for the first couple hundred years of our country. I'm not saying torture never happened, but we got along well enough with it being illegal.

When did we make torture illegal? The only federal law banning it was passed in the mid-1990s. Sure, regular criminal law bans things like murder and assault, but these sorts of statutes were never applied to wartime activities outside the United States.

The U.S. military has had restrictions on harsh treatment on enemy combatants since at least the 1860s, but a distinction has historically been made between treatment permissible against "civilized" or "lawful combatants" (e.g., the uniformed soldiers of an enemy state) and those that were "uncivilized" or "unlawful" (e.g., pirates, American Indians, and Phillipine guerillas).

It also should go without saying that treatment that constitutes "torture" in the eyes of the well-fed and under-experienced living in 2008 differs considerably from what was considered torture less than twenty-five years ago.

bjkeefe
04-30-2008, 07:40 PM
Elvis:

When did we make torture illegal? The only federal law banning it was passed in the mid-1990s.

Oh, I think we had one (http://usconstitution.net/xconst_Am8.html) or two (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geneva_Conventions) other things before that.

It also should go without saying that treatment that constitutes "torture" in the eyes of the well-fed and under-experienced living in 2008 differs considerably from what was considered torture less than twenty-five years ago.

This seems to acknowledge that you think torture shouldn't be permitted, but you'd rather make the difference over what constitutes torture. And name for me, please, one action that we now consider torture that we did not consider torture 25 years ago. And please don't say waterboarding -- we used to charge people with committing a criminal act for doing that.

Thus Spoke Elvis
04-30-2008, 08:23 PM
Elvis:


Oh, I think we had one (http://usconstitution.net/xconst_Am8.html) or two (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geneva_Conventions) other things before that.

The Constitution has never been interpreted to apply to U.S. conduct towards foreign persons abroad with no prior contact to U.S. territory, either by the courts or by the executive branch.

The Geneva Conventions, which have only been around for the past 50 years, ban only the torture and mistreatment of "protected persons" during wartime. I'd argue (admittedly in opposition to a bare majority of the current Supreme Court) that it was never intended to apply to Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. Further, the "law" of the Geneva Conventions is regularly flouted by most every party to it who has subsequently been in a major land conflict.

This seems to acknowledge that you think torture shouldn't be permitted, but you'd rather make the difference over what constitutes torture. And name for me, please, one action that we now consider torture that we did not consider torture 25 years ago. And please don't say waterboarding -- we used to charge people with committing a criminal act for doing that.

Interrogation techniques using water include a broader scope of conduct than you think. There's a difference between an army grunt holding someone's head underwater to make them talk (conduct that was prosecuted by the military dating back almost a century) and the supervised waterboarding techniques that have been used more recently by the United States -- and by "more recently," I mean by trained army and intelligence personnel in the past few decades. But even ignoring waterboarding, which I myself think is very likely torture, it strikes me as highly unlikely that the following would have been considered torture just twenty years ago -- hooding a detainee for several hours, intimidating detainees with barking dogs, forced standing for several hours, sleep deprivation for periods of a few days, or the use of uncomfortable (but non-debilitating) stress positions for a few hours at a time. In fact, the European Court of Human Rights found that many of these techniques did not (http://www.worldlii.org/eu/cases/ECHR/1978/1.html) rise to the level of "torture" when they were used by British authorities against IRA members in the 1970s. That isn't even getting to the absurdity of defining torture so broadly as to include the playing of certain types of music, or the use of scantily-clad females to interrogate misogynistic male detainees.

dankingbooks
04-30-2008, 08:34 PM
BJ,

You are right - Pajamas Media will never replace the New York Times. But the financial model supporting the NYT simply doesn't exist anymore. So I'm not sure what replaces the NYT - I do know that the status quo will not survive.

Likewise, with academics: if the scholarly journals go out of business (which they almost certainly will) and are replaced by blogs & webpages & the like, then there will be no way to judge the quality of an academic. Or put another way, there will be so many people with comparable academic credentials (eg, blogs & webpages & the like) that there would be no reason to pay any of them. As somebody who decides tenure, I can say first hand that the number of on-line academic journals is proliferating so fast that the whole concept is being devalued as it becomes obsolete. So again, the status quo, however valuable it may be, is doomed. And that is true despite the fact that I have no clue as to what will replace the status quo.

Hey folks - check out my book at http://www.dankingbooks.com

bjkeefe
04-30-2008, 08:51 PM
Dan:

So again, the status quo, however valuable it may be, is doomed.

That much I'd agree with, for both newspapers and scholarly journals. But I don't think it'll be night and day. I expect at least some newspapers to maintain print versions until at least wireless access is ubiquitous and screens are as light and easy to read as paper. I think there will (continue to) be an ongoing transition to the Web for most, and I can only hope that the advertising dollars will follow in sufficient force to pay for the expensive forms of journalism.

On scholarly journals, you'd know more about this than I, but don't you think peer review will continue to mean a lot? Maybe, if the proliferation becomes really big, we'll have a need for meta-peer review of some sort. I do know that there is a lot if Web research interest in ranking sources for authoritativeness, so this could be part of that.

bjkeefe
04-30-2008, 08:56 PM
Elvis:

Thanks for your reply, especially the specifics in the second part.

I don't have the energy to debate this question any more, having done so at length in other threads. I'll sum up with this: It is my feeling that the spirit of our laws and the treaties we've signed should include al Qaeda and the like. I view them as either prisoners of war in our new kind of war, or as common criminals, and in either case, worthy of the same rights. As to the specific techniques that you listed, I guess I could be persuaded that some of them might not constitute torture.

I don't think we're going to get any closer on this one, so the last word is yours, if you like.

AemJeff
04-30-2008, 08:57 PM
Maybe you guys could help me understand the threat to scholarly journals. I'm no academic, and I probably imperfectly understand all of the factors involved. How does science get done without peer-reviewed journals, for instance? And if the reputations of most academics depend substantially on their output in the journals, then it seems that hiring decisions are made, directly or indirectly, based on the work that published by that method. Blogs are a great place for anybody, academics included, to informally publish anything they want. But how are the formal outlets endangered?

bjkeefe
04-30-2008, 09:18 PM
I'm going to have to defer to Dan on this one, since I share your questions.

dankingbooks
04-30-2008, 09:34 PM
I agree with BJ - the world won't go black & white. Only the exigencies of a short post prevent me from adding the myriad qualifying statements necessary to be completely accurate.

Peer review is a group of largely self-appointed experts who decide what gets published and what doesn't. It is an institution roughly analogous to the editorial board of the NYT, and it suffers from the same defects. The peer reviewers, despite their best intentions to the contrary, have a vested interest in the outcome - very frequently one peer reviews work from one's close friends (I just finished doing that today!). There is an "old boy network" that evolves among scientists in a given specialty. In a few cases, e.g., global warming, the process becomes explicitly political. But most importantly, it is just too slow.

Immediate publication on the web, with open comments such as these here, or the development of wiki-style sites such as Linux or Wikipedia, are much cheaper and ultimately much more effective than peer review. With an on-line journal, it makes no sense a) not to publish the article immediately, and b) not to allow commenters to criticize it publicly. Surely this is a better way to vet science than through a small group of self-interested friends. That may have been essential when print journal resources were limited, but those limitations no longer exist, and there is no reason why we should pretend as if they still did.

But you should still buy my book: http://www.dankingbooks.com

AemJeff
04-30-2008, 09:35 PM
Ok, but your initial post sounded predictive. This latter is more like advocacy.

dankingbooks
04-30-2008, 09:42 PM
Hmmm. I intend both posts to be predictive.

I am not an advocate for any model - I see problems with both. The new method is clearly fairer to the many talented people out there who are now not part of the old boy network. On the other hand, it becomes increasingly difficult for academics to judge each other in any kind of rigorous way, just as you can't believe everything you read on the Drudge Report. It makes the current academic hierarchy obsolete, but replaces it with ... I have no idea what.

AemJeff
04-30-2008, 09:50 PM
but replaces it with ... I have no idea what.

That's my problem with your thesis. Despite its imperfection, the status quo seems to do what it needs to do - provide a a system of checks and balances and a standard for measuring the quality of academic output. It also has a lot of institutional inertia.

bjkeefe
04-30-2008, 10:07 PM
Dan:

I take your points, and Wolfgangus, someone who used to post here a lot, made much the same case, especially as regards the old boy network. However, I don't think the self-selection is as incestuous or self-reinforcing as the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal is (that's the paper you really meant, right? ;^)). For one thing, one makes ones bones in science by overthrowing the conventional wisdom. For another, it's much more ingrained in the scientific culture to be skeptical. It's not perfect, but it's a good system, and I don't see it being replaced by the blogosphere, and catcalls from the peanut gallery, as a regulatory process.

Come to that, I don't see why it has to be an either/or choice. Why not do both? I know some scientists love this idea, especially younger ones. BlogggingHeads Sean Carroll and PZ Myers are good example of embracing the idea of blogging intermediate work as part of the process. But I doubt either would be in favor of using only this method, at least until certain blogs have effectively become the same thing as the old-school journals.

dankingbooks
05-01-2008, 06:22 AM
BJ & Jeff,

Your defense of the status quo might work in the laboratory sciences, where there are barriers to entry besides a print journal. So in those fields only, the peer review system might survive for a while. But for something like mathematics, where no such barriers exist, I see no reason why the transmission of knowledge has to maintain a schedule limited by that of a snail-mailed, print journal.

Science Magazine publishes weekly, and their website is nothing more than a mirror of the print journal. Is this efficient? Shouldn't they post articles as soon as possible? And shouldn't they allow comments? And even if they don't allow comments, do you imagine the "peanut gallery" doesn't already weigh in someplace else? The point is - the current model is an anachronism. I'm not saying its bad, or doesn't have advantages, but the rhythm of it is limited by an obsolete technology.

The web renders Grand Poobahs obsolete - be they travel agents, or journalists, or publishers, or academics. On-line, all ideas are in the market place, and nobody is preferred because of status conferred by a Grand Poobah.

My book has absolutely, positively, never been endorsed by a Grand Poobah. http://www.dankingbooks.com

bjkeefe
05-01-2008, 08:16 PM
Dan:

But for something like mathematics, where no such barriers exist, I see no reason why the transmission of knowledge has to maintain a schedule limited by that of a snail-mailed, print journal.

Perhaps not. On the other hand, I expect that the movement away from printed journals to a faster, more fluid, Web-based system of publishing research won't differ all that much in the more important aspect of peer review.

The web renders Grand Poobahs obsolete ...

I think this is too absolute a view. I think there is something real to the "wisdom of the herd," but I also think there will always be a place for real experts. I expect by "Grand Poobahs" you are thinking of people who are ensconced in prominent positions who have passed their prime or who didn't deserve to get there in the first place, but no matter the medium or structure, I think there will always be standouts in any field.

pod2
05-01-2008, 10:14 PM
DT:



How often does this happen, excluding on 24?

And what is wrong with the argument Megan made, which many of us here have also made in other threads debating state-sanctioned torture? The idea is this: keep torture illegal, and if the blue moon rises and we really do have a "ticking time bomb" scenario, let the interrogator decide whether the risk of being punished is outweighed by his sense of duty to protect the public. We ask soldiers, cops, firefighters, etc., to take worse risks in their line of duty than threat of punishment, after all.

And there's also the reality of how such a scenario would play out. If an interrogator tortures a prisoner and truly stops the ticking time bomb as a result, don't you think it's reasonable to believe that the interrogator would suffer little or no punishment? I suspect the worse that would happen is a dog-and-pony show of an investigation, pious condemnations of his actions with plenty of on-the-other-hands pointing out that this was a unique case, and at most a transfer or early retirement with full pension. I think it even more likely that no punishment at all would happen.

Since I contend that the above scenario is extraordinarily unlikely -- you have to have both the ticking bomb and the suspect in custody (and let alone how one might know that the suspect knows anything in the first place), I don't see that this supports making torture legal; i.e., sanctioning it as an approved practice in which the state's representatives can regularly participate.

Here's where i think you're a little off base. THis is not an unlikely or unusual scenario-- when it comes to people other than US citizens under threat. One case, picked completely at random: a fighter pilot, shot down over a major metropolis, lands in a lake with serious injury. He may have general and specific information about targeting within your country--knowing about his mission will literally save hundreds, if not thousands of lives. He also knows about future targets-- this is tens or hundreds of ticking bombs. Isn't torture justified? It will save lives. Submitting John McCain to waterboarding would probably save Vietnamese lives. Torturing US fighter pilots in WWII for targeting information would save German lives in Dresden, in Tokyo. But, back to McCain. Are there figures within the mainstream of American political life that argue that waterboarding John McCain would be justified? I certainly don't. Waterboarding John McCain would have been a war crime. Much of his treatment was criminal and deserves prosecution under Nuremberg principles. Yet, information that he had about current US bombing raids would have saved innocent lives. Justification of torturing people under certain conditions applies generally. The justification doesn't just apply to torturing brown people. If torture is justified under these conditions, then we must support the torture of McCain. THis justification is so disgusting, I can't believe that it's even being discussed seriously. no disrespect

pod2
05-01-2008, 10:28 PM
Drezner offers the parallel of Ward Churchill vs. John Yoo. This is inexact on several levels, and the mismatch is revealing.

If Ward Churchill had been a political affiliate of Al Qaeda, and had Bin Laden requested legal justification for flying airplanes into the WTC, Congress, the White House, and possibly the Pentagon, we would be a bit closer. Then Ward Churchill writes an article that was widely distributed between the leadership of Al Qaeda in the years leading up to 2001. Finally, Al Qaeda leadership, citing Ward Churchill's memos, sends out the orders to hijack jetliners for Sep 11. When it is discovered that Churchill's memos were instrumental in justifying the decisions to attack the WTC and Pentagon within the Al Qaeda leadership, there is a lively debate over whether CHurchill should be fired from his university posts.

THis, until proven otherwise, is the operative comparison. please, I implore you to prove otherwise.

bjkeefe
05-01-2008, 10:29 PM
pod2:

I take your point, but I think you exaggerate two things: the number of pilots shot down and how much information they have beyond their own mission parameters.

Another way in which your analogy breaks down, somewhat, is that if you capture a shot-down pilot, you pretty much know what you have. On the other hand, if you pick up some Middle Eastern guy somewhere, you're probably less certain about who he is and what his plans are.

The third thing carries forward from my thinking that pilots don't possess a lot of information about larger matters: terrorists work out of cells as an organizational structure, precisely to limit the amount of shared information.

I'm not saying that you'll never get any information ever. I'm just saying that when you add up the costs and benefits to sanctioning torture as a policy, you're going to lose more than you'll gain. And that's without the moral considerations.

pod2
05-01-2008, 10:49 PM
pod2:

I take your point, but I think you exaggerate two things: the number of pilots shot down and how much information they have beyond their own mission parameters.

Another way in which your analogy breaks down, somewhat, is that if you capture a shot-down pilot, you pretty much know what you have. On the other hand, if you pick up some Middle Eastern guy somewhere, you're probably less certain about who he is and what his plans are.

The third thing carries forward from my thinking that pilots don't possess a lot of information about larger matters: terrorists work out of cells as an organizational structure, precisely to limit the amount of shared information.


I think you may be onto something in paragraphs 3 and 4. As for 1 and 2: pilots have information about their own missions. This, in and of itself, presents the 'ticking bomb' scenario. There is a very significant chance that they were shot down before completed their mission. Any targets on the unfinished end of their mission are definitely on the list of things that will blow up within the next 24 hours. That alone justifies waterboarding according to the Dershowitz/jack bauer doctrine that seems to be ruling the conversation. Larger strategy could be derived from past missions-- information that will allow extrapolation to future targets. Because of the repetitive nature of bombing raids, McCain has much more information about future targets than even a captured suicide bomber. A jihadi has much less useful info, even if one were sure that he/she was a suicide bomber, not a hapless victim of tribal animus.

pod2
05-01-2008, 10:52 PM
pod2:



The third thing carries forward from my thinking that pilots don't possess a lot of information about larger matters: terrorists work out of cells as an organizational structure, precisely to limit the amount of shared information.

I'm not saying that you'll never get any information ever. I'm just saying that when you add up the costs and benefits to sanctioning torture as a policy, you're going to lose more than you'll gain. And that's without the moral considerations.

Sorry, here's sections 3 and 4 from previous post: 3 seems to mitigate the practical use of torture. I wholeheartedly agree with sentiments in 4. I just contend that these concerns apply much more forcefully in Guantanamo than they did in the Hanoi Hilton or German POW camps. Further weakening the Jack Bauer justification.

pod2
05-01-2008, 10:54 PM
pod2:

I take your point, but I think you exaggerate two things: the number of pilots shot down and how much information they have beyond their own mission parameters.


The number of pilots shot down in wwII or Vietnam vs. the number of jihadis captured with active bombing missions targeting US citizens. Is the ratio less than 100/1?

bjkeefe
05-01-2008, 10:56 PM
pod2:

I just contend that these concerns apply much more forcefully in Guantanamo than they did in the Hanoi Hilton or German POW camps. Further weakening the Jack Bauer justification.

We're certainly on the same page here.

bjkeefe
05-01-2008, 10:59 PM
The number of pilots shot down in wwII or Vietnam vs. the number of jihadis captured with active bombing missions targeting US citizens. Is the ratio less than 100/1?

I was equating "pilot" with a terrorist about whose mission we could be equally sure, for the most part.

I don't have any idea about the ratios, but it seems to me that we probably don't catch many terrorists in the middle of active missions. And is "100/1" supposed to recall Cheney's 1% doctrine? I guess I don't see what your point really is, here.

pod2
05-01-2008, 11:05 PM
I was equating "pilot" with a terrorist about whose mission we could be equally sure, for the most part.

I don't have any idea about the ratios, but it seems to me that we probably don't catch many terrorists in the middle of active missions. And is "100/1" supposed to recall Cheney's 1% doctrine? I guess I don't see what your point really is, here.

I assure you that the reference to the doctrine is coincidental (seriously). I was referring to your assertion that not that many fighter pilots were captured in the middle of their bombing missions. I don't know the numbers, either, but I assure you that the number of fighter pilots shot down mid mission in Vietnam and WWII dwarfs the number of 'high value' prisoners in Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib. ?Nevermind the number of 'high value' prisoners who were captured in the midst of a mission that would set off bombs within the US homeland.

bjkeefe
05-01-2008, 11:09 PM
pod2:

I don't know the numbers, either, but I assure you that the number of fighter pilots shot down mid mission in Vietnam and WWII dwarfs the number of 'high value' prisoners in Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib.

Sure, I agree with that. So I guess I don't see why you asked me the question. Maybe we're arguing while agreeing?

pod2
05-01-2008, 11:14 PM
pod2:

I take your point, but I think you exaggerate two things: the number of pilots shot down and how much information they have beyond their own mission parameters.


Just addressing this point of yours. Supposedly exaggerating the number of pilots shot down. My exaggeration of this point, if it exists, does not affect my overall argument. My response addresses your charge of exaggeration.

bjkeefe
05-01-2008, 11:19 PM
Just addressing this point of yours. Supposedly exaggerating the number of pilots shot down. My exaggeration of this point, if it exists, does not affect my overall argument. My response addresses your charge of exaggeration.

Okay. To repeat myself somewhat, I was trying to say that the modern equivalent of "pilots shot down" is exaggerated; i.e., we don't catch that many terrorists in the middle of a mission, something I think we've already agreed upon. I should have been more clear to start with. Sorry.

pod2
05-01-2008, 11:36 PM
I guess your larger argument was to attack my justification of torture in the case of McCain. Whereas my argument was to say: torturing McCain is a war crime, and deserving of our visceral disgust; justifying torture a la Yoo in Guantanamo and black sites is equally deserving. Torture is evil, and cannot be justified by the ticking bomb scenario-- it leads to waterboarding McCain.

bjkeefe
05-02-2008, 02:28 AM
pod2:

Yes, I did misunderstand you in the beginning. I thought you were trying to make the case that torture could be justified, distasteful that it might be. Sorry about that, and glad we got it cleared up.