Today we announce the new website for Neutral Source. It contains almost all of the content we have published since our first post on March 15, 2006. Over the years, technology has improved by leaps and bounds but we were stuck in the proprietary world of a platform that became too expensive to maintain, never mind improve. Our new site is based on the open-source WordPress platform.
Navigating the Tag Column
Previously, we had four sets of category tags to help readers identify posts of greatest interest. We have reorgnanized them into a single, nested list:
AGENCY OR OTHER REGULATOR. This is the place to go if you are searching for content related to a particular regulator. Federal regulatory agencies are separated into two groups: Executive branch agencies and independent commissions. Congress and the Federal Courts are listed separately, as are State and Local Governments and International regulators. We have added new categories for Non-Governmental Organizations because they often act as regulators (or at least try very hard to do so).
REGULATORY TOPICS. The major categories remain Economics, Science, Policy, Information Quality, and Peer Review—our primary focus since 2006. For each, we have created several subcategories to help readers track more subtle distinctions. Also, we have created special categories for content related to certain pathologies in the world of regulation:
Politicization of Science. A common complaint is that agency officials and others manipulate science to support pre-determined policy objectives. We define the politicization of science as the intentional (a) inclusion of substantive or presentational scientific error or (b) exclusion of information crucial for providing context. We do not restrict the politicization of science to actions by agency heads and other officials. Career agency staff often have strong policy views. Politicizing science provides a way to advance these views and restrict the discretion of agency heads to exercise the policy judgment delegated to them by Congress.
Politicization of Benefit-Cost Analysis. Less often heard, but perhaps more commonly observed, are instances in which regulatory benefit-cost analysis is manipulated to support pre-dfetermined policy objectives. We define the politicization of benefit-cost analysis as the intentional (a) inclusion of substantive or presentational economic error or (b) exclusion of information crucial for providing context.
Scientization of Policy. In many instances, policy questions are transformed into what appear to be scientific questions. Scientists who have strong policy views can more easily advance these views if they find a way to make a policy question look scientific. Agency heads and other policy makers often like this arrangement because it enables them to avoid taking responsibility for making difficult choices. We define the “scientization of policy” as the intentional (a) misuse or abuse of science to make or justify policy decisions or (b) the false conversion of a policy dispute into an apparently scientific one.
SUBSTANTIVE REGULATORY ISSUES. These are the myriad applications to which regulation is applied. It is largely unchanged from our original list.
Links and Images in Legacy Content
We have preserved these links and images to the best of our ability, In a few cases, however, images were no longer recoverable. This largely reflects our original 2006-vintage technology, but in some cases, we had linked to external documents that either have been moved or no longer exist online. In Version 2, we intend to preserve images within our own domain whoever possible rather than rely on external links.
Links to previous posts may not work. We will revise them as time permits. Meanwhile, you can use the search utility to find previous posts on the same topic.
Comments received on legacy content have been removed. Feel free to comment again if you are so inclined.
To reduce spam, we have adopted a WordPress convention requiring commenters to obtain moderator approval before posting their first comment. Once you have registered and your first comment has been approved, subsequent comments will be posted automatically. Of course, we reserve the right to remove comments that we consider objectionable, and to block commenters who persist in posting objectionable comments.
How to Contact Us
Neutral Source managing editor Richard Belzer can be reached by email at editor [at] neutralsource.org. Don’t forget: Neutral Source is a nonprofit organization that gladly accepts tax-deductible donations.
PO Box 319
Mount Vernon, VA 22121