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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 17:36 
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This was originally posted by richlyon in this thread but since it is a complete change of subject I have split it:

richlyon wrote:
I'd prefer, if I may, to ask your opinion on a related but delicate matter concerning the limits of demonstrable honesty and accuracy that can be achieved under SafeSpeed's existing governance structure. This will appear at first glance to be an ad hominem attack. It therefore serves, efficiently, as both a question and as an example of the problem the question is intended to address.

In his appeal for funds, Paul has been perfectly honest in declaring that his livelihood is inextricably intertwined with the successful prosecution of his case. He has, you'll recall, given up his paying job, he has "never earned so little in his life", his site and source of income is under semi-permanent threat of closure due to lack of funds, etc.

At the same time, he enjoys a disproportionately influential role over both the manufacture and verification of its theories. On the one hand he posits the effectiveness of a policy called "open review" as the principle means by which the veracity of his case should be tested. On the other he establishes himself simultaneously as judge, executioner and opinionated juryman in all debates between a highly unrepresentative jury testing that veracity, by virtue of his executive power as moderator of the discussion forum devoted to that task.

The challenge to SafeSpeed to provide independent verification of the honesty and accuracy of its arguments marks a transition point. While the goal until now has been to mobilise a group of believers, its goal now must be to persuade a group of unbelievers. Certain issues that may previously have been taken for granted or politely overlooked will now assume greater prominence. One of those issues will be that of motivation, an essential aspect to any evaluation of the merits of an argument.

Question: to what extent is Paul compromised in his role as advocate and champion of a contentious social issue, both by his unusually high personal exposure to the consequence of a failure, and by the appearance (manifested or not) of the potential for distortion arising from severe conflict of interest?

Note: This is emphatically not an attack on Paul's character, which I have no reason to question. It is concerned with the principle of the Separation of Powers, which recognises that processes that fail to separate certain functions adequately can lack integrity even when carried out by people of unimpeachable integrity.

[edited: because it is a bugger of a post to write while minimising offence.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 17:58 
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It's hard to find true impartiality anywhere. A great deal of modern science is carried out for money in the full knowledge of what the paymasters would like to hear.

However the Safe Speed campaign and I have a far better record in this respect than most organisations. Consider these facts:

* I put in some 5,000 hours of work and reached all the main conclusions long before I received a single penny from the Safe Speed campaign.

* I also sunk at least £10,000 of my own money into Safe Speed operations, also before any cash flowed inwards.

* I gave up work to run this campaign primarilly because I was concerned about huge preventable loss of life. I don't know how this could be proved, but it is the truth.

* I've never worked so hard nor earned so little in living memory.

* I could easily earn far more for far less work in a dozen other ways.

* I've put comparatively tiny efforts into fund raising. I dare say that with the public profile achieved Safe Speed has become eminently fundable. If I was prepared to reduce day to day operations and go out fund raising instead then I could expect to generate significant wealth. But the day to day operations are more important to me and I've put in very limited effort. Obviously in time this could prove to be a serious mistake. So far the balance has proved to be sustainable even though there have been crisises along the way.

In short, no I'm not impartial, but I'm as close as you could hope to get.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 18:15 
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richlyon wrote:
Question: to what extent is Paul compromised in his role as advocate and champion of a contentious social issue, both by his unusually high personal exposure to the consequence of a failure, and by the appearance (manifested or not) of the potential for distortion arising from severe conflict of interest?


I think the first part of the question should be balanced by another question: to what extent would road safety be compromised, or otherwise, by Paul's failure to do anything - ie to allow the status quo to go unchallenged?
The latter part of the question could be answered by the fact that Paul would probably be much better off financially and otherwise had he remained in full-time employment as an engineer.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 19:09 
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To a greater or lesser extent the same potential conflict of interest arises with any paid official in a campaigning body, for example with Mary Williams of BRAKE.

I expect Paul to demonstrate a very high standard of honesty when dealing with facts.

However, the point must be made that ultimately political decision making cannot be reduced to a mere dispassionate analysis of facts. Facts may be used to support an argument, but it is entirely possible to argue on principle that, for example, 90-day detention of terrorist suspects is wrong even the experience of other countries strongly suggested that such a policy had reduced the level of terrorism.

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Any views expressed in this post are personal opinions and may not represent the views of Safe Speed


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:48 
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Nobody can be truly impartial when dealing with criticism of a volume of work they created themself, only a computer could be that obdurate. I know how defensive I get when my peers pass comment, albeit helpfully, on my work, particularly if I've spent a great many hours putting it together. Its all about ownership isn't it, one is naturally more protective over something one owns and have devoted a great deal of time and attention to, rather than someone else's masterpiece.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2006 12:20 
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Folks, I never intended to spawn three different subjects and need to sign off. Sorry.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2006 22:42 
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Quote:
This will appear at first glance to be an ad hominem attack.


thats because it is.

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