Posts by Bart Janssen

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  • Speaker: An Open Letter To David Cunliffe, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The economy’s not going that well. Easily the biggest influence on GDP growth is the Christchurch rebuild and most of the regions are stalled at best. Our export performance still relies overwhelmingly on world commodity prices (which are now in downturn). We have another property bubble and the dollar is overvalued. (It’s significant that Key addressed that last one as a problem as soon as the election was won, and not before.)

    Facts that Labour failed to communicate utterly in its campaign to appear "positive" sigh. Also perhaps useful might have been to ask NZ the question what else do they want National to sell off (ACC?, DHBs?, Pharmac?).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3419 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: An Open Letter To David Cunliffe,

    The saddest part of this is that it is all being done in ignorance. Nobody has taken the time to genuinely collect data (not anecdotes) to figure out why voters chose to vote the way they did.

    Anything done in this environment of ignorance is a pure crap shoot and has little chance of being any benefit to the party or to the people of New Zealand that the party wishes to represent.

    For me that is Mr Cunliffe's fault.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3419 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Science and Democracy, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    As a scientist in a CRI, do you see this as a concern?

    As a random scientist in a CRI whose expertise is not in environmental science or monitoring or reporting ... my opinion is of little more value than most :).

    What I can say from experience with any kind of high level reporting is that it's mostly bollocks anyway.

    When you report on any science, including the environment, the important stuff is in the detailed data. It matters that this river has no oxygen, or that grazing land has lost its topsoil, or that this particular reserve has been invaded by rats.

    But the reports that make it up to management level have no fine grained detail. All they want is some random number to quote to the minister or one (good) example of work being done.

    State of the environment reports are I guess a little different but my personal guess is that if you want to really know the state of the environment you need to spend an hour each with about 20 scientists from different fields to get the real picture. While the commissioner could and probably would do that her summary could never include the detail.

    So for me it really doesn't matter who assembles the final report. If the government really wants to know they need a minister for the environment willing to spend the time listening to (not arguing with) the real experts and then a cabinet that is willing to defer to the minister's judgement.

    But as I said I don't know for sure.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3419 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Science and Democracy, in reply to Sacha,

    SETs

    ?

    Senior executive team

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3419 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Science and Democracy, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    Are you saying such instruction (whether explicit or inferred) is not your experience?

    Exactly. I've never had any instruction from management that I could not air my opinions. As long as I don't speak for PFR and I don't.

    And yes I'm from PFR and the water quality questions were (I think) NIWA.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3419 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Science and Democracy, in reply to JC Carter,

    Nothing prevents any scientist from referencing any commentary or accessing other scientists which makes the section in the ethics document pointless. Cannot have it both ways.

    Huh? I don't understand the problem. If I read the relevant literature in order to become knowledgable about a subject and then pass on that knowledge with relevant citations then there is no breach of that ethical document.

    If however, I comment on surgical techniques as if I have some expertise, without having done any research and giving no citations then I have breached ethics.

    The point is I am using my exalted position as a scientist (snort) to sway opinion in an area where I have no expertise - that is just plain wrong.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3419 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Science and Democracy, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    And that is exactly what he is doing to scientists within our CRIs. He is buying both their scientific integrity and their silence.

    No he isn't. He buys the CRI boards of directors and the SETs. Since they are like him, businessmen and accountants and they understand being bought and sold.

    Stupid scientists like me don't get it. We speak out, even if what we say opposes the government's preferred position. And unless we breach intellectual property (which exists just the same in the Universities) we can pretty much say what we think. BTW I take IP pretty seriously.

    Providing we are clear that it is our personal opinion (educated or not) and not the position of the company for which we work.

    In my experience there has not been a case in our institute where any scientist has been forced to say something they did not believe to be true nor any case (excepting intellectual property issues) where they have been told to stay silent.

    One caveat there is that sometimes we don't talk about preliminary results. That can look like being silent on data but mostly it's about trying not to be wrong.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3419 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Science and Democracy, in reply to Russell Brown,

    These clowns

    See that's the kind of thing I'd say to their faces too :).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3419 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Science and Democracy, in reply to JC Carter,

    wouldn’t that mean that the chief scientist would have to zip up about an enormous range of topics that he currently opines on?

    No because if you read his essays he fully references his data. Where he doesn't know himself he can access scientists who do know and can give you the citations.

    What it does mean is that my opinion on the latest surgical techniques is worth as much as a surgeons opinions on GMOs i.e. not much at all.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3419 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Science and Democracy, in reply to Sacha,

    trying to retain connection and have some influence.

    but that is exactly the foundation of 'access journalism' as revealed by #dirtypolitics. Trading off the truth of a matter now in exchange for future opportunities.

    I really don't think they are the same at all Sasha. I think dirty politics has revealed that some journalists are entirely comfortable with spreading lies in order to retain favour.

    Professor Sir Peter doesn't trade off truth - at least as far as I have seen. What he does clearly do is choose where he is willing to put effort.

    So for the cannabis debate there is simply nothing he could say that already has not been said - the PMs office knows all the arguments and evidence and they have decided their policy based on ideology not evidence IMO.

    By contrast the science funding debate is arguably as hard to sell to National yet he has expended huge effort (an likely political capital) providing mounting evidence that the current policy is wrong. That likely hasn't made him popular with many cabinet members but the benefit (he and I believe) is so broad spectrum that it is worth the risk of damaging the relationship.

    BTW it is precisely being able to manage that balancing act that makes me certain I could never fill that role - I am far too likely to simply tell them they are full of crap :).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3419 posts Report Reply

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