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 Dick, still, your assumption is that the NSF is directly controlled by
Monsanto. That's somewhat too simple. I think  you and Claudia are also reading
too much (negative)  into the quote from Jane Macoubrie  (whose actual views I
have no idea of). But the effort to start citizen panels has been in progress
for years, with Langdon Winner being an active part of it. While I don't always
agree with him, he is in general very much our ally.  Certainly it's the case
that industry would.like to make sure the panels come out in its favor, they
may not be able to do this if others insist on a better process.  Further,
those developing new technologies might actually be gratedful for the ability
to modify their approach before spending billions and then discovering the
depth of public opposition. They may hope that they can mitigate the opposition
just by more adept publicity gained thorugh listening to the panels, but it is
likely that in many cases they will be pressed to change course more
fundamentally, and, if so, they would still rather be forewarned, I suspect.
Michael

Richard Leigh wrote:

> Whoa!
>
> I think I ladled in too much irony in my comment.  What I meant was that an
> attempt to use "ordinary people" in the service of corporate greed (namely
> Monsanto et. al.'s attempts to stuff GM foods down the world's throats) had
> already backfired, in that the "ordinary people", given a modest
> introduction to the problem, had immediately seen that GM foods should be
> labeled.  Since this is the last thing Monsanto wants, I predict the program
> will be canceled.  I was (and here is where I concentrated too much irony)
> praising the "ordinary people" for having gotten to heart of the matter
> through their own study.  (Actually, the article told us little about how
> their research material was selected.)
>
> I agree with Claudia that the NSF was forum-shopping, but the evidence is
> that it's not going well.  So I'm not rejecting the panels (at least not
> without knowing more), I'm predicting the NSF is going to reject them for
> failing to provide the desired service.
>
> Also, I really was not trying to weigh in on any global issues like
> incrementalism, but just for the record I work in an incrementalist
> non-profit using tax money to make New York State more energy-efficient one
> boiler at a time, and I feel good about it.
>
> I guess I can now expect to hear from some true revolutionary.
>
> Best,
>
> Dick
>
> Michael H Goldhaber wrote:
>
> > I think Claudia and Dick are both quite wrong. Rather than just
> > rejecting the panels in favor of some mythical "good government" and
> > informed citizens, we must recognize, as I did in my 1986 book;
> > "Reinventing Technology, Policies for Democratic Values", there are far
> > too many issues for an informed citizenry to take part in all of them.
> > Rather than being dismissed, Langdon's proposal neeeds refining. Panels
> > need to be selected in a better way than who responds to newpaper ads,
> > in such manner that they are broadly representative (see my book, if you
> > can find it, for hints as to how) . They ought to have input early in
> > the process of technological development, even helping decide its
> > direction. The fact that juries should be more reperesentative (e.g.
> > opponents to capital punishment in capital cases or those scientifically
> > trained are now wrongfully excluded) doesn't mean we should abandon the
> > jury system. Once refined, it deserves our support.
> >
> > Claudia and Dick are really saying in essence, "The system is corrupt so
> > why pretend otherwise or even try to improve it incrementally. Comes the
> > revolution, all will be well." And that is just nonsense.
> > --
> > Best,
> > Michael
> >
> > Michael H. Goldhaber
> >
> > [log in to unmask]
> > http://www.well.com/user/mgoldh/
> >
> > Claudia Hemphill wrote:
> >
> > > Hear, hear.
> > >
> > > I also enjoyed Langon Winner's fatuous hope that we can count on
> > > panels of "ordinary, disinterested citizens, selected in much the way
> > > that we now choose juries."
> > >
> > > Start with that mythical creature "disinterested" -- a quality no more
> > > achievable than is the "objectivity" of scientists. Let's see...
> > > people no longer trust the government- and industry-controlled
> > > scientists. Brilliant solution: instead, let's pick some people with
> > > absolutely no science training at all.  Having conceded science's
> > > inability to be distinterested/ objective, it is proposed we proxy in
> > > randomly picked people off the street, and assume that the erratic
> > > manner of their recruitment is equivalent to independent thought.  It
> > > isn't.  (Just to begin, let's recognize the impossibility of a food
> > > consumer being disinterested in the safety of their food. And then ask
> > > who's picking the "facts" they're given to read...)
> > >
> > > As to the truly humorous premise that juries set a standard for
> > > disinterested, intelligent decision-making, here's an example I noted
> > > the other day:
> > >
> > > "1994. J.E.B. v. Alabama. U.S. Supreme Court directs that peremptory
> > > challenges not be used to exclude women from juries. 'When persons are
> > > excluded from participation in our democratic processes solely because
> > > of race or gender, this promise of equality [under the law] dims, and
> > > the integrity of our judicial system is jeopardized.' Only in 1975
> > > (Taylor v. Louisiana) had they found that women should be included in
> > > juries; in 1961 they had continued to uphold state laws excluding
> > > women, even while affirming that women were fully bound by jury
> > > decisions."
> > >
> > > Dick is right: this is pure forum-shopping. Increasingly questioned by
> > > a rightly suspicious public, the overtly biased suggest we shift the
> > > fictitious mantle of legitimacy to some faceless public panel whose
> > > biases are less easily determined or disclosed. The funniest part of
> > > this article is how clearly the wording discloses this! (Thanks for
> > > posting it, Art!)
> > >
> > > "The only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong
> > > enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people strong
> > > enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over
> > > its government." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt
> > >
> > > Claudia Hemphill
> > > environmental science program
> > > University of Idaho
> > >
> > > Richard Leigh wrote:
> > >
> > >> This idea is going to sink without a ripple.
> > >>
> > >> First it's set up because "We don't want another backlash like the
> > >> one over
> > >> genetically modified foods".  Then the first panel comes up with the
> > >> preposterous suggestion that "the government tighten regulations for
> > >> growing genetically modified foods and require the products to be
> > >> labeled clearly".
> > >>
> > >> These non-expert volunteers are so not with the program!
> > >>
> > >> Best
> > >>
> > >> Dick Leigh
> > >>
> > >
>
> --
>
> All the best,
> Dick
> ----------------
> Richard W. Leigh, P.E.                  Voice: 212-866-4458
> 415 Central Park West, 12C              Fax:   253-660-4768
> New York  NY  10025                     [log in to unmask]

--
Best,
Michael

Michael H. Goldhaber
PH  1-510 339-1192
FAX 1-510-338-0895
MOBILE 1-510-610-0629
[log in to unmask]
http://www.well.com/user/mgoldh/


What have I learned in all these years, by way of wisdom? Most
importantly, I would say the notion that we humans came into a world
without meaning, but we invented meaning; it is to us to give things,
including ourselves what meaning we choose to give, and though our power
to do that is not unlimited, it is the most difficult and most important
power we possess, a task we can never successfully assign to others, and
can hardly avoid, a task that is always open before us, and one in which
there are no predetermined right answers, and quite possibly not even
any absolutely wrong answers, much as I would like there to be. The
world is not a book we can read, but our very existence as humans makes
it a book we can--and inevitably do--write.