Bees and Bayer

The bee story has a back story, a little darker and less promising than it looked through the NYT story’s window.  HT: Kevin Drum and an RBC commenter.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

4 thoughts on “Bees and Bayer”

  1. It's still marginally important science with big hype. The fact that he has funding from big Chem/Pharm doesn't change the importance of the work.

  2. There are extensive studies that show that the effect of apriori attitudes in research is well known. That he changed his mind shortly before getting a grant makes this suspect, and there is a problem in that very few people can do this research so it will take considerable time for someone to replicate it. If someon e trying to replicate it fails to do so, it will still be used as the basis for keeping on with the use of the pesticides. There is a problem with the appearance of evil and these results certainly have that appearance. I agree that the appearance doesn't prove guilt, but I give the results a far lower chance of being correct knowing the back story.

  3. This paper did not address whether or not pesticides were a factor. It simply examined the presence and absence of different pathogens and the correlation among those with the occurrence of colony collapse and then did a very simple test of the effect of these two diseases on . If you want to make an argument that this research was biased by his grant then it would be more parsimonious to suggest that this research is a non-sequitur.

    Regardless, the point I'm trying to make and have been trying to make is that the actual results of the paper are not that impressive. If you read the media reports closely, none of the scientists interviewed, including the lead author, come close to suggesting that this is at all convincing. It will not be a critical paper in changing the field.

    As far as court cases go, any lawyer should be able to make this paper irrelevant in court.

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