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Credibility Seppuku

August 27th, 2006 · 8 Comments

One of my favorite tech policy blogs, the Technology Liberation Front, has inexplicably decided to surrender any claim to be taken remotely seriously. The anti-science mujahadeen at the Discovery Institute, in a classic (for them) play, had opened a tech policy shop with the rather transparent goal of lending their crackpot ideology some sort of legitimacy by association. For reasons utterly opaque to me, someone at TLF has decided to become complicit in this crude scam—a move that both will and should cause the intelligent layperson, who necessarily has to take significant portions of technical arguments on trust, to utterly discount their opinions. My condolences to the other fine and intelligent writers there, who deserved better.

Tags: Tech and Tech Policy



8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Greg Newburn // Aug 27, 2006 at 1:21 pm

    I tried to leave this comment over at the TLF blog, but for some reason it didn’t pass moderation.

    Anyway, I agree completely with you and Will about DI, but I noticed that Cato links to them as well. Since most of Cato’s readers are probably not trained economists and philosophers, they can’t independently verify Cato’s material, and have to rely on their credibility to take them seriously.

    Should we discount the material coming out of Cato because they link to DI?

    I think the answer has to be “yes” to be consistent. Hopefully someone over at Cato will recognize that and convince them to remove their link to DI and sever any formal or informal association with those kooks.

  • 2 Greg Newburn // Aug 27, 2006 at 2:12 pm

    Nevermind, it’s up at TLF now…

  • 3 c // Aug 27, 2006 at 4:51 pm

    To lend specificity to the claim of connection, Cato’s Richard Rahn is also the Discovery Institute’s Richard Rahn.

    Let’s face it, fundamentalist Christianity—and its Jewish, Muslim, Hindu etc. fellow travellers—is a bunch of horseshit.

    Is it time to purge the libertarian movement of its faith-inspired idiocy? At what point do we just agree that it’s a personal issue?

  • 4 Jim Harper // Aug 28, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    Carefully understated, Julian. Nice work. Bwwaaah! 😉

  • 5 eteraz // Aug 28, 2006 at 5:23 pm

    Dear Mr. Sanchez,

    Interesting blog you’ve got.

    I thought that since you’re at least somewhat clued into the whole democracy promotion thing (even if you hate how Bush is doing it), would you be interested in checking out a dialogue I’ve started with an American Prospect writer.

    You may want to get involved, or not.


    Also feel free to check out my reform American-Muslim blog (click on my name above).

  • 6 Grossed Out // Aug 28, 2006 at 11:14 pm

    While we’re at it, let’s face it…fundamentalist scientists who have nothing better to do than sit in front of their computers, blogging and petting themselves, are pretty full of it too.

    Have some humility!

  • 7 c // Aug 29, 2006 at 4:33 pm

    Dear Grossed Out,

    “Humility” doesn’t mean that we don’t try to discover the facts about the external world—necessarily discarding myths and errors where we find them.

    Intellectual “humility,” properly conceived, means that we are brave and honest enough to admit when the facts are inconclusive, either because there are too few of them or we can’t discern which direction they point in.

    On some issues our humility is tested while on others it is not.

    The question of the literal truth of the Bible is not a case in which the virtue of humility is salient. No intelligent person can believe the literal truth of (one of)The World’s Original Super-Story.

    To do so would make one a Young Earth creationist, which is synonymous with idiocy.

    I understand your plea for tolerance and open-mindedness and I think it comes from a commendable impulse.

    But we should not be so open-minded that our brains fall out.

  • 8 Anono // Aug 30, 2006 at 1:23 pm

    Since Cato has itself worked with scholars who were also associated with the Discovery Institute, Cato has also \”inexplicably decided to surrender any claim to be taken remotely seriously.\” Thus, by extension, Julian Sanchez, as a former employee of Cato, cannot be taken seriously. This leads to a \”all Cretans are liars\” paradox, of course, but no matter which way you look at it, Sanchez doesn\’t appear very bright. Either he\’s not to be taken seriously because he was associated (via Cato) with Discovery Institute personnel, or he\’s not to be taken seriously because he\’s pushing for a silly standard of guilt-by-association-in-the-third-degree.