Welcome Hance Haney!

by on August 25, 2006 · 88 comments

By now, you’ve seen some of his contributions. On behalf of the gang [though it's too late],* I thought I would introduce the newest TLFer, Hance Haney.

Hance is Director and Senior Fellow of the Technology & Democracy Project at the Discovery Institute in Washington, D.C. As you’ve already seen, he’s mighty well versed in telecom issues. He’ll bring another dimension to our current discussions of net neutrality, and much more in the future.

I bumped into Hance on the street today and encouraged him to engage with our commenters whose disagreements with us are welcome – indeed, essential to making TLF a worthwhile endeavor.

And hopefully Hance will help counterbalance the prolific Tim Lee so his DRM obsession doesn’t make TLF “all DMCA all the time”! ;-P

*[I was just about done writing this when Adam's post went up, so I'm posting it anyway. I don't want to have wasted my time - but I will waste yours, reader.]

  • http://lippard.blogspot.com/ Jim Lippard

    I’m sorry to see you’ve brought on board somebody from the Discovery Institute, which is the leading promoter of intelligent design nonsense in the United States. Even the telecom component of DI has crackpot George Gilder (who also incompetently argues against evolution, and tends to get things dramatically wrong in his stock market forecasts for the telco world) as a senior fellow.

  • http://lippard.blogspot.com/ Jim Lippard

    I’m sorry to see you’ve brought on board somebody from the Discovery Institute, which is the leading promoter of intelligent design nonsense in the United States. Even the telecom component of DI has crackpot George Gilder (who also incompetently argues against evolution, and tends to get things dramatically wrong in his stock market forecasts for the telco world) as a senior fellow.

  • Lewis Baumstark

    Jim (Lippard),

    As I have no previous knowledge of Hance or the Discovery Institute, I prefer to allow him to live or die here on the merits of his debate and analysis, not on his link to a pro-ID institution.

    Welcome, Hance.

  • Lewis Baumstark

    Jim (Lippard),

    As I have no previous knowledge of Hance or the Discovery Institute, I prefer to allow him to live or die here on the merits of his debate and analysis, not on his link to a pro-ID institution.

    Welcome, Hance.

  • http://abstractfactory.blogspot.com/ Cog

    The Discovery Institute ought to be shunned by all right-thinking people, simply as punishment for so shamelessly polluting our public discourse about science. Everybody associated with the Discovery Institute should know, and never be permitted to forget, that their affiliation with that institution tars their name and calls their integrity into question.

    This isn’t to say that we should pre-emptively dismiss everything Hance says, but that he should never forget the cost that this affiliation will have for his professional reputation and all the views that he professes to hold. The suspicion of Lippard and others (myself included) is entirely rational, and promotes the proper working of the information ecosystem, just an investor’s skepticism about former Enron executives would be rational and promote the proper working of the market.

  • http://abstractfactory.blogspot.com/ Cog

    The Discovery Institute ought to be shunned by all right-thinking people, simply as punishment for so shamelessly polluting our public discourse about science. Everybody associated with the Discovery Institute should know, and never be permitted to forget, that their affiliation with that institution tars their name and calls their integrity into question.

    This isn’t to say that we should pre-emptively dismiss everything Hance says, but that he should never forget the cost that this affiliation will have for his professional reputation and all the views that he professes to hold. The suspicion of Lippard and others (myself included) is entirely rational, and promotes the proper working of the information ecosystem, just an investor’s skepticism about former Enron executives would be rational and promote the proper working of the market.

  • http://www.cato.org/people/harper.html Jim Harper

    And the winner is . . . Lewis Baumstark! Curious. Courteous. Way to go, Lewis!

  • http://www.cato.org/people/harper.html Jim Harper

    And the winner is . . . Lewis Baumstark! Curious. Courteous. Way to go, Lewis!

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Come on, Jim, don’t be so naive.

    The Discovery Institute has a wide and well-deserved reputation as a kook incubator for its invention and advocacy of the most dishonest and poisonous doctrine of our time, Intelligent Design. Anyone affiliated with that organization in any capacity automatically enters the world of discourse with two strikes against him.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    PS – I meant Jim Harper, not Jim Lippard in that last comment.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Come on, Jim, don’t be so naive.

    The Discovery Institute has a wide and well-deserved reputation as a kook incubator for its invention and advocacy of the most dishonest and poisonous doctrine of our time, Intelligent Design. Anyone affiliated with that organization in any capacity automatically enters the world of discourse with two strikes against him.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    PS – I meant Jim Harper, not Jim Lippard in that last comment.

  • http://gondwanaland.com/mlog/ Mike Linksvayer

    I’m really sorry to see the credibility of everything posted here (much of which is excellent) diminished through association with a Discovery Institute employee.

    I will certainly think several times before referring anyone to TLF again for the sake of the credibility of whatever information I would like to use TLF posts to buttress and my own.

  • http://gondwanaland.com/mlog/ Mike Linksvayer

    I’m really sorry to see the credibility of everything posted here (much of which is excellent) diminished through association with a Discovery Institute employee.

    I will certainly think several times before referring anyone to TLF again for the sake of the credibility of whatever information I would like to use TLF posts to buttress and my own.

  • Neel Krishnaswami

    Likewise, Mike. It casts a serious shadow over TLF to have a poster who is a representative of an organization which exists mainly to lie to the public. This is a terrible shame, because so many of the other writers here are so good.

  • Brian Moore

    I have to admit I’m a bit disappointed too. Sure, it’s possible he’s totally fine on evolution issue, and a brilliant debater of technology issues, but the association is worrying. I’d love to hear from him personally regarding what he thinks about his organization’s rather silly beliefs.

  • http://tieguy.org/ Luis Villa

    The phrase ‘right-thinking people’ gives me chills, and it should to anyone with a decent grasp of history. Maybe the less loaded formulation is ‘people who dislike those who advance political causes by actively distorting the truth.’ Or to be more straightfoward, ‘people who don’t like liars.’

    Mr. Hayne may be a fine thinker, but anyone who willingly associates themselves with DI, and hence with DI’s strategy of willful manipulation of facts in pursuit of political goals, starts off with several black marks in my book. (His second post, and the misrepresentations that Mike pointed out in it/a>, doesn’t give me much faith that he’s going to somehow change my mind about DI or their intellectually dishonest tactics.)

  • Neel Krishnaswami

    Likewise, Mike. It casts a serious shadow over TLF to have a poster who is a representative of an organization which exists mainly to lie to the public. This is a terrible shame, because so many of the other writers here are so good.

  • http://tieguy.org/ Luis Villa

    The phrase ‘right-thinking people’ gives me chills, and it should to anyone with a decent grasp of history. Maybe the less loaded formulation is ‘people who dislike those who advance political causes by actively distorting the truth.’ Or to be more straightfoward, ‘people who don’t like liars.’

    Mr. Hayne may be a fine thinker, but anyone who willingly associates themselves with DI, and hence with DI’s strategy of willful manipulation of facts in pursuit of political goals, starts off with several black marks in my book. (His second post, and the misrepresentations that Mike pointed out in it/a>, doesn’t give me much faith that he’s going to somehow change my mind about DI or their intellectually dishonest tactics.)

  • Brian Moore

    I have to admit I’m a bit disappointed too. Sure, it’s possible he’s totally fine on evolution issue, and a brilliant debater of technology issues, but the association is worrying. I’d love to hear from him personally regarding what he thinks about his organization’s rather silly beliefs.

  • http://willwilkinson.net/flybottle Will Wilkinson

    Jim, As I’m sure you agree, the scientific method is among the most important achievements,and one of the most precious aspects of our Enlightenment heritage. Discovery’s ID unit has implemented a rhetorically sophisticated attack on the norms of inquiry that underlie all science, technology, and and it’s liberatory reality and promise. I think it’s important to understand that the ID issue isn’t a disagreement that can be settled by rational inquiry, according to its own standards. It is a disagreement about whether rational inquiry and its standards should have cultural primacy over emotionally powerful non-rational commitments. I understand that lots of people at Discovery have nothing whatsoever to do with the ID shop, but vital norms do not survive by argument alone. People who throw in with organizations that explicitly seek to undermine the prestige and authority of culturally precious, but fragile norms of reason must be made to bear some social cost, even if only as small as being excluded from a blog devoted to technology. Hance may be a great guy with truly worthwhile things to say, but that’s not really the issue.

  • Julian Sanchez

    I’ve got to agree with Will and the others here. DI and its fellow travellers have built a movement on the basis of a calculated strategy of creating the illusion of a genuine disagreement among scientists: If one of their flacks is invited to a debate at Harvard, however thoroughly their argument is rebutted, they’ll exploit the mere fact that the debate was held to lend a false air of legitimacy to their cause. In this case, I’m afraid the effect is more likely to be damage to TLF’s credibility than the augmentation of DI’s. TLF’s willingness to allow itself to be used in this way strikes me as a grotesque lapse of judgement.

  • http://willwilkinson.net/flybottle Will Wilkinson

    Jim, As I’m sure you agree, the scientific method is among the most important achievements,and one of the most precious aspects of our Enlightenment heritage. Discovery’s ID unit has implemented a rhetorically sophisticated attack on the norms of inquiry that underlie all science, technology, and and it’s liberatory reality and promise. I think it’s important to understand that the ID issue isn’t a disagreement that can be settled by rational inquiry, according to its own standards. It is a disagreement about whether rational inquiry and its standards should have cultural primacy over emotionally powerful non-rational commitments. I understand that lots of people at Discovery have nothing whatsoever to do with the ID shop, but vital norms do not survive by argument alone. People who throw in with organizations that explicitly seek to undermine the prestige and authority of culturally precious, but fragile norms of reason must be made to bear some social cost, even if only as small as being excluded from a blog devoted to technology. Hance may be a great guy with truly worthwhile things to say, but that’s not really the issue.

  • Julian Sanchez

    I’ve got to agree with Will and the others here. DI and its fellow travellers have built a movement on the basis of a calculated strategy of creating the illusion of a genuine disagreement among scientists: If one of their flacks is invited to a debate at Harvard, however thoroughly their argument is rebutted, they’ll exploit the mere fact that the debate was held to lend a false air of legitimacy to their cause. In this case, I’m afraid the effect is more likely to be damage to TLF’s credibility than the augmentation of DI’s. TLF’s willingness to allow itself to be used in this way strikes me as a grotesque lapse of judgement.

  • http://www.kboreilly.com/ Kevin B. O’Reilly

    Leaving aside the TLF matter for a moment, this is a sincere question: Has the refusal of scientists to debate critics of evolutionary theory hurt or helped the cause of intelligent design?

  • http://www.kboreilly.com/ Kevin B. O’Reilly

    Leaving aside the TLF matter for a moment, this is a sincere question: Has the refusal of scientists to debate critics of evolutionary theory hurt or helped the cause of intelligent design?

  • Ryan

    Will and Julian are right. What’s more, as a reader who is relatively ignorant about the technical issues blogged about here, I am unable to directly verify most of TLF’s factual assertions. The inclusion of someone affiliated with the Discovery Institute significantly reduces the trust that TLF has built up in the past. I strongly suggest that TLF’s management reconsider this decision.

  • Ryan

    Will and Julian are right. What’s more, as a reader who is relatively ignorant about the technical issues blogged about here, I am unable to directly verify most of TLF’s factual assertions. The inclusion of someone affiliated with the Discovery Institute significantly reduces the trust that TLF has built up in the past. I strongly suggest that TLF’s management reconsider this decision.

  • DC Libertarian

    I concur with Julian and Will. This damages not only TLF’s credibility, but the credibility of the “right-wing” (however loosely defined) movement. Free-marketeers do not need to be associated with ignorant dissemblers of scientific falsehood. If the right had some institutional quality control, DI would have been blacklisted a while back.

    However free-market DI may puport to be, let’s be real. They aren’t getting press or funds for their groundbreaking telecom research (ha). Their entire organization lives and dies through their campaign to destroy biological education in America. The rest of their organization is just coverup for this shameful fact.

  • http://www.withoutbound.net/blog/ Amanda

    Particularly in tech policy, where it seems that folks who disagree with someone’s position are quick to assume that he or she is a shill for some interest for another, a reputation for intellectual honesty is a valuable thing. To my mind, TLF’s posters have done quite a good job cultivating such a reputation, and should guard it carefully. Becoming associated with an institution whose entire claim to fame is intellectual dishonesty strikes me as an astonishingly poor move.

  • http://www.gregnewburn.blogspot.com Greg Newburn

    There’s no question that the kooks at DI should be shunned by anyone seeking credibility in any field, for precisely the reasons Will spells out.

    That said, Will’s employer (and my former employer), the Cato Institute, links to DI from its own web page (see URL below). If Will is right on this (and I think he is), should readers similarly discount Cato’s material until its association with DI is severed?

    After all, most people who read Cato material are not trained economists or philosophers, and therefore have to accept some of that material without independently verifying it.

    http://www.cato.org/links/links.html

    Perhaps Will can convince someone over there to remove that link?

  • DC Libertarian

    I concur with Julian and Will. This damages not only TLF’s credibility, but the credibility of the “right-wing” (however loosely defined) movement. Free-marketeers do not need to be associated with ignorant dissemblers of scientific falsehood. If the right had some institutional quality control, DI would have been blacklisted a while back.

    However free-market DI may puport to be, let’s be real. They aren’t getting press or funds for their groundbreaking telecom research (ha). Their entire organization lives and dies through their campaign to destroy biological education in America. The rest of their organization is just coverup for this shameful fact.

  • http://www.withoutbound.net/blog/ Amanda

    Particularly in tech policy, where it seems that folks who disagree with someone’s position are quick to assume that he or she is a shill for some interest for another, a reputation for intellectual honesty is a valuable thing. To my mind, TLF’s posters have done quite a good job cultivating such a reputation, and should guard it carefully. Becoming associated with an institution whose entire claim to fame is intellectual dishonesty strikes me as an astonishingly poor move.

  • http://www.gregnewburn.blogspot.com Greg Newburn

    There’s no question that the kooks at DI should be shunned by anyone seeking credibility in any field, for precisely the reasons Will spells out.

    That said, Will’s employer (and my former employer), the Cato Institute, links to DI from its own web page (see URL below). If Will is right on this (and I think he is), should readers similarly discount Cato’s material until its association with DI is severed?

    After all, most people who read Cato material are not trained economists or philosophers, and therefore have to accept some of that material without independently verifying it.

    http://www.cato.org/links/links.html

    Perhaps Will can convince someone over there to remove that link?

  • William Newman

    Kevin O’Reilly writes “Has the refusal of scientists to debate critics of evolutionary theory hurt or helped the cause of intelligent design?”

    Possibly, but (1) note that live oral debate is not how scientists cope with other controversies either, and (2) other debate media (like usenet newsgroups) are full of scientists, and (3) ID seems to be a fighting retreat from the defeat of the young-earth creationists, and the YE creationists managed to lose even without scientists having lots of live oral debates with them.

    If you don’t immediately see point (1), and perhaps think that scientists are treating fundamentalists’ criticisms unfairly by not having oral debates with them, consider five reasonably controversial scientific revolutions of the twentieth century: relativity, quantum mechanics, continental drift, limits on proof (such as the work of Goedel, especially his incompleteness theorem), and the big bang. Were live debates important in any of them? Not to my knowledge. (And for fairly good reason; good luck covering all the issues in, e.g., the precession of Mercury in an oral debate of reasonable length.) I believe that scientists can sincerely and legitimately think that it’s weird and unreasonable to be expected to support complicated positions against not-necessarily-reasonable criticisms in 40 minutes of spontaneous speech.

    For point (2), consider Internet debates like the usenet group talk.origins. I haven’t paid attention to it for over ten years, but back around 1990 I read it for a while, and I remember energetic folk holding up the mainstream science end. Also, the mainstream science folk maintained FAQs, which seem to be a very effective tactic in online debate against dishonest yammerers. When it becomes obvious that a debater is stubbornly (or just mindlessly…) repeating a claim without addressing classic refutations (because the FAQ is out there, pointing to the classic refutations) the debater becomes unconvincing to all but the truest of believers.

    Point (3) is just my anecdotal experience, I used to run into YE creationists and now I run into ID instead (occasionally in the same individual that I’ve been in contact with for a long time). I don’t know how to back it up rigorously without spending serious time searching and surveying.

  • William Newman

    Kevin O’Reilly writes “Has the refusal of scientists to debate critics of evolutionary theory hurt or helped the cause of intelligent design?”

    Possibly, but (1) note that live oral debate is not how scientists cope with other controversies either, and (2) other debate media (like usenet newsgroups) are full of scientists, and (3) ID seems to be a fighting retreat from the defeat of the young-earth creationists, and the YE creationists managed to lose even without scientists having lots of live oral debates with them.

    If you don’t immediately see point (1), and perhaps think that scientists are treating fundamentalists’ criticisms unfairly by not having oral debates with them, consider five reasonably controversial scientific revolutions of the twentieth century: relativity, quantum mechanics, continental drift, limits on proof (such as the work of Goedel, especially his incompleteness theorem), and the big bang. Were live debates important in any of them? Not to my knowledge. (And for fairly good reason; good luck covering all the issues in, e.g., the precession of Mercury in an oral debate of reasonable length.) I believe that scientists can sincerely and legitimately think that it’s weird and unreasonable to be expected to support complicated positions against not-necessarily-reasonable criticisms in 40 minutes of spontaneous speech.

    For point (2), consider Internet debates like the usenet group talk.origins. I haven’t paid attention to it for over ten years, but back around 1990 I read it for a while, and I remember energetic folk holding up the mainstream science end. Also, the mainstream science folk maintained FAQs, which seem to be a very effective tactic in online debate against dishonest yammerers. When it becomes obvious that a debater is stubbornly (or just mindlessly…) repeating a claim without addressing classic refutations (because the FAQ is out there, pointing to the classic refutations) the debater becomes unconvincing to all but the truest of believers.

    Point (3) is just my anecdotal experience, I used to run into YE creationists and now I run into ID instead (occasionally in the same individual that I’ve been in contact with for a long time). I don’t know how to back it up rigorously without spending serious time searching and surveying.

  • Will Wilkinson

    Greg, Good point. I definitely think we should ditch the link.

  • Will Wilkinson

    Greg, Good point. I definitely think we should ditch the link.

  • http://www.gregnewburn.blogspot.com Greg Newburn

    Will,

    A commenter at Sanchez’s blog raises the issue of Richard Rahn, a senior fellow at DI who is also an adjunct scholar at Cato. Along with link, maybe that guy should go too?

  • http://crasch.livejournal.com Christopher Rasch

    Count me among those who think that association with ID proponents will hurt TLF. That Hance lends his reputation to them does not give me great confidence in his intellectual honesty or judgment, and by extension, that of the TLF organization.

  • fishbane

    Just another advocate of real science piling on. I’ll still read, but I’m going to be looking closely at the attributions from here on out.

  • http://www.gregnewburn.blogspot.com Greg Newburn

    Will,

    A commenter at Sanchez’s blog raises the issue of Richard Rahn, a senior fellow at DI who is also an adjunct scholar at Cato. Along with link, maybe that guy should go too?

  • http://crasch.livejournal.com Christopher Rasch

    Count me among those who think that association with ID proponents will hurt TLF. That Hance lends his reputation to them does not give me great confidence in his intellectual honesty or judgment, and by extension, that of the TLF organization.

  • fishbane

    Just another advocate of real science piling on. I’ll still read, but I’m going to be looking closely at the attributions from here on out.

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    I fail to see what ID has to do with any of this. His views on ID are about as germaine to anything he says here as James DeLong’s musical tastes are to IPCentral’s discussions on copyright law.

    Sounds to me like a lot of people are taking their own petty biases out on him already. Considering how little that most “evolutionists” know about even the Bible (which they claim is the source of ID), I am a bit skeptical that their opinions are worth anymore than his or his peers’.

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    I fail to see what ID has to do with any of this. His views on ID are about as germaine to anything he says here as James DeLong’s musical tastes are to IPCentral’s discussions on copyright law.

    Sounds to me like a lot of people are taking their own petty biases out on him already. Considering how little that most “evolutionists” know about even the Bible (which they claim is the source of ID), I am a bit skeptical that their opinions are worth anymore than his or his peers’.

  • http://catallarchy.net/blog Matt McIntosh

    Mike, go back and read Will’s comment above. Carefully, slowly, multiple times if need be — until you actually get a clue.

    Guess I don’t need to pile on, but I will anyway: what the hell were you guys thinking?

  • http://catallarchy.net/blog Matt McIntosh

    Mike, go back and read Will’s comment above. Carefully, slowly, multiple times if need be — until you actually get a clue.

    Guess I don’t need to pile on, but I will anyway: what the hell were you guys thinking?

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Ironically, I wrote a blog post a few days ago titled “Net Neutrality is Intelligent Design for the Left.”

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Ironically, I wrote a blog post a few days ago titled “Net Neutrality is Intelligent Design for the Left.”

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