Comments on: Disclosure Statement and Statement of Principle, 1.1 Blog, news, books Tue, 10 Oct 2017 06:01:00 +0000 hourly 1 By: طراحی سایت Thu, 08 Jan 2015 08:20:00 +0000 your web page is really wonderful.. it’s pleasant to read

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By: Valerie Dunbar Jones Mon, 06 Aug 2007 22:00:00 +0000 As always, Professor, I am confused, but may still produce a correct-seeming answer. Are we after the “corn-pone opinions” or the corn pone itself?

By: rodander Thu, 21 Jun 2007 21:00:39 +0000 Fair enough, scourdan. We’ll agree to disagree, I think.

Point of reference: Lawyers (myself included) are in fact paid to “advise about” and “consult upon” questions and issues in our field. That’s what we do. And sometimes we even “write about” such questions and issues (even I might, maybe when I am old and have been “corrupted” by enough money).

I do not have a problem with someone choosing not to comment publicly because of their own monetary interest. That’s up to them. But I sincerely question the wisdom of forcibly applying this “non-corruption” principle to others.

By: scorduan Thu, 21 Jun 2007 19:00:32 +0000 rodander, thanks for your reply, as well.

I understand your frustration, and your concern about expertise. Let me begin by stating that your concern is incredibly valid. Care must be taken not to eliminate expertise from the question. However, I think that looking at the concept of “promoting a position” will help clarify where expertise may or may not be lost.

The example I used above was very broad. I said that as a patent lawyer, you would exempt yourself from discussion of whether or not patent law should be abolished. You would acknowledge that you have too much at stake personally to take place objectively in the discourse and “gracefully bow out.”

However, it’s entirely possible that, as a patent lawyer, you have never “been paid to advise about, consult upon, or write about” the length of time a patent stays viable. Put more simply, just because you’re a patent lawyer doesn’t means you’ve been doing any paid lobbying regarding patent lifetimes. So, if a great debate came out about this, you would have significant expertise in the area, but would not have a profit motive to make objectivity more difficult. You would then feel free to lend your expertise to the debate.

Keep in mind, it is not paid experts in a field that are “paid to advise about, consult upon, or write about” their field. As a software engineer I have never “been paid to advise about, consult upon, or write about” software development. I have been paid to develop software. It is paid activists and lobbyists who are “paid to advise about, consult upon, or write about” things. These are the ones whose judgment has two masters to serve.

A different way of putting the principle would be:

In an intellectual debate, anyone who has more than the truth at stake on the outcome has untrustworthy judgment and would do well to remove themselves from the debate.

Disclosure principles would state:

In an intellectual debate, anyone who has more than the truth at stake on the outcome should disclose their additional stakes.

But, I agree with Lessig, this doesn’t go quite far enough. Even if this person feels they are being completely honest in their assessments, it’s possible they are not even being honest with themselves. Their judgment cannot be trusted and they should remove their testimony from the debate.

By: Darren Cambridge Thu, 21 Jun 2007 11:35:53 +0000 Lessig writes, “We (in legal academics, and imho) get paid enough not to have to worry about selling testimony.” This, I’m sure, is true. It is also terrific that he doesn’t have to worry about raising money for his center. However, there’s an implication here, perhaps not intended but also not disavowed, that all professionals should make a similar pledge. That’s simply impossible now and any time in the foreseeable future for most of us not in the position of incredible privilege from which Lessig does his work (of which I’m a great fan). I’m a professor in interdisciplinary studies, early in my career, at a middle tier state institution. My salary is probably 20-25% of what Stanford pays Lessig. I need the money I get from consulting to supplement that.

More crucially, however, no one takes care of fundraising for me. If I don’t do it, I don’t get to do the projects I care about that can make an impact. My consulting work, too, is one of the activities that I feel makes the most immediate impact on practice in my field. To avoid “corruption” my options seem limited to 1) living like a monk until I’m as famous and well-paid as Lessig (i.e., never), 2) only doing consulting about things I don’t care about, or, indeed, oppose (perhaps I could grade standardized tests for ETS), or 3) stop doing paid work about things I care about so that I can write about them for audiences I’m unlikely to be able to reach without the resources the paid work would provide. I don’t like any of these.

I’m sure this isn’t news. I would like to see, however, some sense of how this might apply to those of us who would need to either make much greater personal sacrifices or would require significant institutional change to be able to avoid corruption as defined here.

By: rodander Wed, 20 Jun 2007 16:17:40 +0000 Thanks for the comment, scourdan. But I don’t buy it.

Are you saying that, according to this “non-corruption” principle, that I ought not publicly express an opinion against the argument for the total abolition of patents, because I work (for money) in the field? This seems to be the sense of your “bow out gracefully” suggestion.

This is ludicrous. Most people work, or at least continue to work, in a field that they believe in. I believe in the patent system, as I indicated above, and I have devoted 20+ years in that field. Working for money. I have backed up my viewpoint with my career. And now I am somehow “corrupt” if I publicly express opinions in that regard? Or, at best, presumed to be corrupt?

This will eliminate expertise from the public square of ideas and debate. Those who have backed up their viewpoints with their livelihoods are to be disbelieved. Those with the most experience in an area, and who know it the best, are precluded from the debate.

This will leave only amateurs, and those seeking to exploit the amateurs, debating the small and large issues of the day. I guess this is a good thing only if you don’t care about the results (or if you are one of the exploiters).

Actually, I am starting to see through this whole “non-corruption” concept. Artists who have actually created original works, and who are fighting against those who want to make derivatives will be disqualified from the policy debate — after all, they have a money interest in the outcome. Companies who have invested in Internet infrastructure and new network services, and who want to obtain return on that investment, will be disqualified from the so-called “net neutrality” debate — after all, they have a money interest in the outcome.

This “non-corruption” principle makes winning policy debates easier, doesn’t it? Those with the most knowledge, and most at stake, don’t get to play.

By: scorduan Wed, 20 Jun 2007 12:58:42 +0000 I think TBM and rodander miss the direction, here. This is not about the point of view expressed. All points of view are still valid and acceptable. This is about maintaining as objective a decision making process as possible before publicly espousing an authoritative opinion. This is a small piece what I call “Intellectual Self-Honesty.” That is, recognizing, acknowledging, and minimizing ones biases in an rational debate. I think it’s reasonable to state that humans go through an intense cognitive dissonance process when dealing with beliefs and values that are against their self interest. Put another way, rodander, if someone had a completely cogent, logical, slam-dunk argument for the total abolition of patents, it would be reasonable to suspect that you would have difficulty with the argument, simply because it would demolish everything you’ve built your life on. Certainly you would have a difficult time espousing such an argument. So the principal involved is to acknowledge your personal bias of monetary self-interest, distrust your own judgment in the debate, and bow out gracefully.

For your religious example, I am reminded of the Apostle Paul. Instead of being paid for his missionary and preaching work, he chose to make his money by tent-making in the towns he traveled to. He did this, he says, in order to have nothing get in the way of his message.

The good Professor is merely espousing the same principle. Avoid situations where monetary self-interest could influence your judgment, and get in the way of your message.

By: rodander Tue, 19 Jun 2007 19:22:04 +0000 I agree with TBM.

It is entirely consistent for one who favors a particular philosophy, or business idea/plan, to actually work for an entity who follows that philosophy or business concept. For money.

I am a patent attorney. I think the patent system is a tremendous engine for innovation and investment in innovation, and that our economy and society is better for it. I am not afraid to say that out loud. And I work for clients who profit from the patent system (if I do my job well), and they pay me for it. I work in a field that I believe in. And being paid for that work does not corrupt me. I still sincerely believe in the concept, and its value.

To call this arrangement “corruption” is condescending and insulting. It presumes that the opinions of anyone who is paid for work that is consistent with their underlying opinions is somehow insincere about those opinions and beliefs. It presumes that we are all self-serving first, so much so that we cannot be believed or that we have no integrity.

Imagine this: A Catholic priest is paid a salary (meager as it is), from an institution whose purpose is to spread and deepen faith in its tenets. Is that priest “corrupt” when he gives the Sunday homily? Or when he counsels his parishioners, or writes a pastoral letter? According to Lessig, yes.

And, yes, I fully realize that Lessig’s use of “corrupt” is not necessarily to mean “corrupt in its crudest sense”. But words have meaning, and certainly “corrupt” in its less-crude sense means at least that statements made by such a “corrupt” person are presumed to be self-serving and are not to be believed.

By: three blind mice Fri, 15 Jun 2007 06:48:46 +0000 I’m focusing on an economy of influence that develops around certain professionals. It is that economy that I think should change.

is that a shark you are jumping, professor?

are you kidding? what sort of dialogue will result by excluding any point of view? your statement of principle seems to us to be nothing more than a half-twist on the politics of personal destruction: a politics of personal purity.

it is also unbecomingly condescending. one’s views do not become more or less valuable simply because one is paid to express them. you are no more right about these matters simply because you adhere to a statement of principle!

in this sandbox, the focus should not be on race/creed/color of certain professionals, but rather on what everyone has to say.

*the above comment is paid for by the committee to feed and house three blind mice.*

By: Adam Hodgkin Thu, 14 Jun 2007 14:25:44 +0000 But isnt Google’s contribution to Stanford, which I understood was earmarked for your unit, something that should figure prominently in the disclosure? I am sure that you can handle the conflicts of interest which will surely arise, but there is potential there for awkward considerations.

Google’s contracts with universities merit legal critique — see Brantley’s blog

By: lessig Wed, 13 Jun 2007 15:54:27 +0000 Neither do I. I am not focusing upon one-offs (and if the story weren’t a one-off — if, e.g., you were a stockbroker writing recommendations, then there would be a big problem if you didn’t disclose). I’m focusing on an economy of influence that develops around certain professionals. It is that economy that I think should change.

By: Michael Leuchtenburg Wed, 13 Jun 2007 13:14:00 +0000 If a company is providing a service which I believe to be useful and innovative, it would be unsurprising for me (given more money to invest that my graduate student stipend provides) to both invest in the company and to recommend to others that it be used. Both of these actions would be done because I believe that what they are doing is useful, with the investment having the additional belief “companies that do useful things are successful” also used in justification.

I don’t think this would be a corrupt thing to do. I might feel compelled to disclose my investment, however small, particularly if pushing the company’s service to a large group. I don’t think that would be a corrupt course of action.