Wednesday, August 31, 2005

There Is No Remaining Doubt

"Please post info that specifically proves that global warming is a product of man and not a cycle the Earth would move through anyway regardless of humans being here or not. " So writes a normally rational correspondant I have known for a long time.

Among the many, many studies and reports available today...

The US National Academy of Sciences, 2001 (and here)

“Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth’s atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise. Temperatures are, in fact, rising. The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes are also a reflection of natural variability.”

Professor Peter Barrett FRSNZ (Director of the Antarctic Centre, Victoria University of Wellington), May 10, 2002

"The claim (that global warming has nothing to do with human activity) denies a huge body of contrary published scientific evidence amassed over the last 15 years. Thus it trivialises this effort, and by implication all science.... A few people are saying that the recent warming could be part of a natural cycle. But a further fact from IPCC. "The present CO2 concentration has not been exceeded in the last 420,000 years." This is based on CO2 concentrations measured directly from Antarctic ice cores, which also record 4 glacial-interglacial cycles over this time period. In fact, IPCC think that there is more CO2 in the air we are breathing now than at any time in the last 20 million years."

American Meteorological Society, February 9, 2003

"There is now clear evidence that the mean annual temperature at the Earth's surface, averaged over the entire globe, has been increasing in the past 200 years. There is also clear evidence that the abundance of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has increased over the same period. In the past decade, significant progress has been made toward a better understanding of the climate system and toward improved projections of long-term climate change... The report by the IPCC stated that the global mean temperature is projected to increase by 1.4°C-5.8°C in the next 100 years... Human activities have become a major source of environmental change."

BBC News, Feb 17, 2005

The Times of London, Feb 18, 2005

"The debate about whether there is a global warming signal now is over, at least for rational people," said Tim Barnett, of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. "The models got it right. If a politician stands up and says the uncertainty is too great to believe these models, that is no longer tenable."

Joint science academies’ statement: Global response to climate change, June 7, 2005

"There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world s climate. However there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring. The evidence comes from direct measurements of rising surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures and from phenomena such as increases in average global sea levels, retreating glaciers, and changes to many physical and biological systems. It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities. This warming has already led to changes in the Earth's climate.

"I simply do not see how man is creating more hurricanes," she wrote. "I've been reading the links provided and I don't see the scientific evidence that these are a product of man and not a natural rise in Earth's temperature as part of its natural heating and cooling cycles."

As I stated, the issue is resolved. Humans cause global warming, global warming causes more intense hurricanes.

Meanwhile, Marcel Crok, in the Financial Post, January 27, 2005, spreads the work of Ross McKitrick and Stephen McIntyre - described as "is a professor of economics (and) a mineral exploration consultant" but both actually affiliated with the Fraser Institute.

Crok describes their work as follows: "This undercuts both Mann's supposed proof that human activity has been responsible for the warming of the earth's atmosphere in the 20th century and the ability to place confidence in the findings and recommendations of the influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The political implication is a serious undermining of the Kyoto Protocol with its worldwide agreements on reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. "

It's a sham article.

False Claims by McIntyre and McKitrick regarding the Mann et al. (1998) reconstruction

The claims of McIntyre and McKitrick regarding the Mann et al (1998) temperature reconstruction have recently been discredited by the following peer-reviewed article to appear in the American Meteorological Society journal, "Journal of Climate":

Rutherford, S., Mann, M.E., Osborn, T.J., Bradley, R.S., Briffa, K.R., Hughes, M.K., Jones, P.D., Proxy-based Northern Hemisphere Surface Temperature Reconstructions: Sensitivity to Methodology, Predictor Network, Target Season and Target Domain, Journal of Climate, in press (2005).

[McIntyre and McKitrick have additionally been discredited in a recent peer-reviewed article by Rutherford et al (2004)].

"On Yet Another False Claim by McIntyre and McKitrick" which discredits the claimed "Monte Carlo" Experiment Results from the Rejected McIntyre and McKitrick comment to Nature]

Note on Paper by McIntyre and McKitrick in "Energy and Environment"

"The recent paper by McIntyre and McKitrick (Energy and Environment, 14, 751-771, 2003) claims to be an "audit" of the analysis of Mann, Bradley and Hughes (Nature, 392, 779-787,
1998) or "MBH98". An audit involves a careful examination, using the same data and following the exact procedures used in the report or study being audited. McIntyre and McKitrick ("MM")
have done no such thing, having used neither the data nor the procedures of MBH98. Thus, it is entirely understandable that they do not obtain the same result. Their effort has no bearing on the work of MBH98, and is no way a "correction" of that study as they claim. On the contrary, their analysis appears seriously flawed and amounts to a gross misrepresentation of the work of
MBH98."

Letters for Climate Change
" I know of no independent scientific group that has found any of McIntyre and McKitrick’s claims to be valid. Nor is that surprising. Energy & Environment is not a peer reviewed scientific journal; it is a journal primarily devoted to policy rather than science that appears to engage in, at most, haphazard review of its articles."

Proxy-based Northern Hemisphere Surface Temperature Reconstructions: Sensitivity to Method, Predictor Network, Target Season, and Target Domain

"The close reproducibility of the MBH98 reconstruction based on both (a) the use of an independent CFR method and (b) the use of the individual proxies used by MBH98 rather than the Multiproxy/PC representation used by MBH98, discredits the arguments put forth by McIntyre and McKitrick (2003) in support of their putative 'correction' to the MBH98 reconstruction."

And a little about the players...

There's more, but I don't have time for this nonsense.

In short, the McIntyre and McKitrick report has been thoroughly repudiated.

And in closing, I would like to say - especially in the wake of the death and destruction wrought by Katrina - that the continued promotion of pseudo-science and outright lies in order to foster global warming scepticism is not merely morally bankrupt, it disgusts and sickens me.

It's time we, at the very least, swept the lies fostered by the Fraser Institute and its ilk from the pages of our newspapers.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Representing Events, Representing Knowledge

Two comments to blogs, that at first glance appear to address very different topics, but are in fact saying exactly the same thing.

Specifically, that knowledge is represented (conceptually, in web pages, as metadata) as a series of connections between entities or resources.

No connections: no knowledge.


Comment to David Weinberger

Hm. There is a long history of taxonomy, organization, and encyclopedia. The latter, for example, is a French invention, the Encyclopédie of Denis Diderot (1750-1772). Meanwhile, a product of the Scottish enlightenment, the Encyclopedia Britannica begins in 1768, more than a hundred years before Adler's birth in 1902.

A Propaedia is an attempt to make some sense of this body of knowledge, to, as suggested above, to organize knowledge. The rude response, that "we don't need old white men to tell us how knowledge is organized," and the more polite response, that "we don't have to organize the physical containers of knowledge," miss the nature and objective of what is being attempted. We may grant that a map is not (always) the best metaphor, but to do away with all organization sounds naive at best and dangerous at worst.

"Findability counts." For what? What is the purpose of knowledge, of information, if it belongs nowhere, if it is not part of a coherent understanding of the world. If not a map, then what: a pyramid? a pile? a hierarchy? chaos?

Understanding entails not merely finding but connecting, not merely knowing but applying in context; and of the mechanisms representing this, a map is as welll construed and robust as anything else. Or perhaps a collection of maps, each one charting the world as seen from a point of view.

Adler was neither as groundbreaking as suggested above, nor as easily dismissed as suggested above. The simple remedy of tagging is neither as original nor as robust, either. RDF, for all its syntactical flaws, demonstrates a deeper understanding of how knowledge is to be organized, so that we can not merely find but relate.

And ultimately, I believe that we will find our understandings based not merely in association one word to another, but rather, in a more detailed multivaried set of connections between words, objects, and representations, a tapestry that, more often than not, will be comprehensible by our three-dimensional minds best with the aid of a map.

Comment to Marc Canter:

While a review is a good idea, it is important, especially for events, to keep in mind that practice thus far has not been exemplary.

In particular, I would like to observe that while events are complex entities, practice thus far has tended to represent them in single self-contained documents.

My own approach to events is based on the principle of RSS referencing, which I outlined on the RSS-Dev list and on my website.

In summary...

A *simple* event is considered as an RSS core (title, description, link plus optional Dublin Core elements, such as 'contributor'), plus:
- date/time
- location

There are good standards for expressing date/time and the people at microformats.org are discussing this.

There are less good standards for location, though most of us can figure out the basic elements (country, city, street, number). I will take it as a given that a location standard will be (more or less) agreed upon (and mapped to Google Map / Earth, for map inserts)

This simple event is in addition *associated* with various resources. Such resources should have their own metadata, and hence (in principle) should be referenced rather than described.

Some examples of associated resources include:
- agenda
- PowerPoint
- MP3 recording
- blog post summary

It should be noted that such associated resources will often be generated independently of the event. Hence, one of two possibilities exists (and both must be supported):

- the resource metedata refers to the event URI
eg. <link rel="event">http://www.thing.com/event_metadata.xml</link>

- the event metadata refers to the resource URI
eg. <link rel="agenda">http://www.thing.com/agenda.doc</link>

In a similar manner, while some formats include all manner of metadata about people in event metadata, it is best to refer to personal metadata rather than describe people within the event metadata. Eg.

<dc:contributor role="chair"><link rel="foaf">http://www.downes.ca/my.foaf</link></dc:contributor>

or some such thing. Optionally:

<dc:contributor role="chair"><link rel="foaf">http://www.downes.ca/my.foaf</link><title>Stephen Downes</title></dc:contributor>

I'm not so concerned with the details here as with the principle that events metadata consist in large part of *references* to other resource metadata.

A *complex* event consists of a collection of simple events. For example, a 'conference' may consist of individual 'sessions'.

Complex events obtain their structure by referencing simple events to each other. Two mechanisms, both derived from RDF, suggest themselves:

<rdf:haspart><item><link>http://URI_of_sub-event</link></item></rdf:haspart>


<rdf:ispartof><link>http://URI_of_sub-event</link></rdf:ispartof>

Again, I am not so concerned with the exact syntax as I am with the basic mechanism. Creating events using referencing allows not only for an 'official' event but in addition for unofficial associated events to be added on an ad hoc basis.

That's pretty much it.

Friday, August 26, 2005

American Health Care

As always we have headlines in our (right wing) newspapers urging Canada to privatize our health care system, to move toward the American model.

Courtesy of Dave Pollard, a timely warning:

  • The leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the US is unpaid medical bills
  • The death rate for Americans without health insurance is 25% higher than for those that have it
  • Americans spend 2.5 times what the rest of the Western world pays per capita for health care
  • The US has one of the lowest doctor/patient ratios in the West
  • Americans visit doctors and get admitted to hospital less often than people in most countries in the West
  • Americans are among the least satisfied with their health care system
  • US life expectancy is significantly lower than the average of Western nations, while childhood immunization rates are lower and infant mortality is higher
  • Americans spend over three times as much per capita on healthcare paperwork and administration as Canadians
  • Despite the high cost, the US is almost alone in the West in not having universal health care, and 45 million Americans have no health insurance at all
Pollard links to a Malcolm Gladwell article in the New Yorker that has more. For my part, all I want to say here is that we must stay very very far away from an American system.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Net and Points of View

George's Connectivism blog is rejecting my comment, so...

Re: Centering Agents

You write, "Now, if I'm so inclined, I can listen only to perspectives of my own political party. If I follow Rush Limbaugh or Daily Kos, I can receive a constant message that assures me that I am right, and the other side is wrong. I think this is dangerous."

I reply, "Then don't do it. Read from a wide range of sources."

But, of course, you didn't mean yourself. You are concerned about what happens if *other* people don't read... well, what? Don't read things *you* think they should read?

I don't think you can make the call.

Moreover, I don't think it would be the right call to make. The net depends on autonomy - and if some people elect to withdraw from some part of the conversation, that's their right, and that's what needs to happen.

On Surveillance

Re: Canada's Big Brother Plan to Reshape the Internet

I think we should be clear that although terrorism is being touted as the reason for these new powers, the intent is to employ them much more broadly, to counteract organized crime generally. I don't think it's a losing proposition to be open about this - the people who support their use against terrorism are likely to support their use against drug smuggling and racketeering. And I think that there is a value in being open, as the significant concern is not the use of these powers against crime and terrorism but rather their use for political purposes or on people engaged in lawful activities. The covert actions of the RCMP during the FLQ crisis remain within living memory, and the excesses of McCarthyism a decade or so earlier also.

For this reason, as Micael Geist observes, the lack of judicial oversight is troubling. The judiciary has the responsibility not only of protecting society from certain of its citizens, but also of protecting citizens from certain sectors of society. In a rights-based democracy, independent defense of those rights is essential, as a separate and over-riding function, as otherwise the demands of politics and economy will accord them secondary importance. Our grasp on our rights is already tenuous, applicable only in the civil sphere, and abrogated on a day-to-day basis in the workplace and the domain of private enterprise. The arbitrary shut-down by Telus of its union website should be at least as troubling as the proposed legislation, and hence a combination of government surveillance with that very enterprise ought to be approached only with caution and oversight.

Moreover, the management of the surveillance system is a matter of concern. By requiring that ISPs collect and store information, the civil authorities would be off-loading a signifiance part of the workload to these ISPs. At a minimum, such requirements impose a certain overhead on them, requiring excess storage and retrieval capacity, the production of reports, the acquisition of surveillance technology, and more. But even were this workload compensated, it is arguable that it nonetheless remains in the wrong hands. It is not the business of the private sector to take part in the conduct of criminal investigations, and the private sector is governed by a set of rules and liabilities quite different from the civil sector. It is very likely that records thus stored would be more likely to be open to abuse and disclosure. Moreover, since all information - not merely that judically warranted - is retained, the commercial value of disclosure is likely to exceed any penalties, making such abuse virtually certain. Finally, ISPs are not motivated by any sense of protecting the right, and therefore, are likely to take only the minimum care and attention required to data security.

I am not advocating a sort of information anarchy here. The chaos that can be caused on the network, for example by spammers and virus writers, and in society, by terrorists and organized crime, is sufficient to argue for some sort of constraint. Therefore I support a certain level of powers of surveillance and circumvention. But my warrant is based on the presumption that such powers constitute the exception, rather than the norm, and that interception and surveillance constitute unusual activities, and are not a default that applies to every communication. And such activities ought to be carried out only by civil authorities, answerable to the lawfully elected government, and at cost to that government, and that the primary objective of such activities ought to be the protection, and not the usurption, of our rights and freedoms.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Technorati's Statistics

Re: Technorati's State of Blogs report

Joho writes: "Dave Sifry has been posting data Technorati has gathered about the size and nature of the blogosphere, at least the big chunk of it Technorati knows about."

Sorry to complain, but this report is almost completely implausible. It may represent Technorati harvesting patterns, which may skew toward sites that use tags, but it is almost certainly unreflective of trends in the blogosphere as a whole.

If we look at the chart provided, the number of posts using "tags or categories" was zero as of january 1, 2005. But it is ridiculously easy to find blogs that used categories prior to that date; here's one. And Here's 359,000 more.

The fact is the 'category' tag has been around as long as RSS 2.0 (and was inherent in RSS 1.0's dc:subject even before then). It has been widely used since it was introduced. To create a chart, therefore, showing zero instances as of January 1, 2005, is grossly misleading.

The conflation hurts the rest of the article as well. For example, when Sifry writes, "Technorati has tracked over 25 Million tagged posts from January to July of 2005," does he mean Technorati Tags (tm) or does he mean "tags or categories"? When he says, "About 12,000 unique tags are discovered each day," the same question may be asked.

p.s. While I'm writing:

Technorati continues to report 972 posts from 647 sites for downes.ca - a number still unchanged since July 15. In that time the website ranking dropped from 705 to more than 800, then climbed (somehow) back to today's 736.

Meanwhile, ongoing comparisons between Technorati and other aggregators such as PubSub and Blogdigger show Technorati capturing less than a third of the links in the blogosphere to downes.ca

Meanwhile, the 'number of links in the last 6 days' has fluctuated between 6 to 16 to today's 4 in the last three days. A link from 'Elearning Queen', which showed up earlier this morning, is gone now. The link to all results continues to fail, making longer term comparisons difficult.

For one of my recent articles, How To Be Heard, written July 28, Technorati display only 5 links, while even Google has rounded up 89 links in the same time. This is a significant difference - 89 links would put my article right at the top of the Technorati popular listings.

Technorati right now offers no statistical validity and should not be quoted as indicative of web trends or blogosphere trends. I do not want to speculate as to why Technorati is obtaining the results it is. But the results obtained certainly lend themselves to such speculation.

Update: the note above was posted as a comment to Joho the Blog, where the original article appeared. It appears not to have made it through comment moderation - so much for the rules. Not sure how to make this post appear in his trackback, but here's the trackback URL, we'll see it that triggers the magic trackback gods:
http://www.hyperorg.com/movabletype/mt-tb.cgi/3426
I'll keep watching, and if the comment does appear, I'll note it here.

Snake Oil

Re: Less Live 8; More Self Help

Tim Worstall argues, "supply side reforms (no, the phrase does not just mean tax cuts, it means reform of the supply of things) will benefit development. No more money is needed, nothing difficult has to be done, all governments have to do is license several competing companies to provide mobile services and then get out of the way."

I commented as follows:

This is the old IMF snake oil, repackaged under the guise of bashing Live 8.
In order to qualify for more loans to pay their debts, countries were required to cut social spending and remove restrictions on markets. The IMF and World Bank deemed that a 'free market' would solve their economic problems.

The result? The unregulated flight of domestic capital, the ongoing royalty-free extraction of resources, an inability to compete against cheap (and subsidized) imports, and zero infrastructure (because poor people don't pay phone bills).

Live 8 wasn't about merely sending money to these countries. It was about dismissing their debt (which was arguably illegitimate in the first place) so they could have the freedom to set their own social and fiscal policies.

Countries will now have the freedom, denied under IMF, to invest in social welfare, health, education and infrastructure - the very things the 'free market' approach have historically denied them.

Where this has been tried - Argentina, for example - the results have been impressive. A public education, for example, will produce increases in GDP well beyond the 0.6 percent attribuable to a phone system. This is why the IMF and associated policies are almost universally despised, and why more and more 'left wing' governments are being elected in these nations.


Mark Wilson sniped:

You've got things backwards. During the brief time that Argentina's economy was expanding, was also the time when they were deregulating. Now that govt has taken control of the economy again, the economy has resumed it's tailspin.

I backed up my assertion:

The Argentina economic recovery is well-documented and resists your redefinition of the truth.

Tim Worstall responded:

I'm not sure you've quite understood my point. I have no problem with people wanting to run things their own way. Left wing or right wing, I don't mind.

I've been all in favour of the debt write offs.

However, if people want aid for development, want our money, then that does come with strings attached. Like they must be serious about development, actually want it to happen.

A competetive telecoms market is a signifier of that, nothing more. If they liberalize mobile phone provision then, well, actually, the other way round. If they don't liberalize it when we know that it will aid development at zero cost, then obviously they're not being serious about development.

Issuing a few more supplier licences doesn't stop the govt from investing in health or education now does it?


I replied back with this:

You write, 'A competetive telecoms market is a signifier of that, nothing more...'

The irony is, this approach isn't even working for the United States.

Tom Friedman opens his most recent column in the New York Times: 'I?ve been thinking of running for high office on a one-issue platform: I promise, if elected, that within four years America will have cellphone service as good as Ghana?s.'

You write, 'Issuing a few more supplier licences doesn?t stop the govt from investing in health or education now does it? ...'

The evidence suggests otherwise. In the 'deregulated' American wireless market companies have been lobbying to prevent communities from building their own wireless network, and legislation has been introduced which intends (and I quote) 'To prohibit municipal governments from offering telecommunications, information, or cable services except to remedy market failures by private enterprise to provide such services.'

And this does spill over into education. Private companies have called on the BBC to scale back all its online activities, including free content offered by BBC Learning, calling it unfair competition. These companies even try to prevent the BBC from providing 'subtitling, audio-description and signing, which are designed to meet the needs of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing or blind or partially sighted.'

Private companies continually lobby for a reduction of government services. That's OK, that's their right. But when it becomes a condition of trade or aid that these companies get their way, then not only is the autonomy of those countries subverted, but also, their capacity to provide badly needed public services is eliminated.

That's why countries labouring under such constraints have continued to struggle, and why requiring something as seemingly innocuous as a 'competetive telecoms market' is toxic.


Dietmar added,

You say that these two want 'free' markets, but these two organizations are a contradiction in terms. If there really were 'free' markets, there would be no IMF, and WB, these are organs of govn't that interefere with free markets, they distort them. They shouldn't even exist.

To which I adjoined,

'If there really were 'free' markets, there would be no IMF, and WB...'

One wonders, indeed, what proponents of 'free markets' for the developing world would have to say about the abolition of WIPO, which protects the interests of copyright and patent holders, and of GATT / WPO / FTA regimes, which limit the capacity of nations to interfere with global trade by means of labour, environmental and trade regulations.

I am sure, moreover, that developing nations would feel more comfortable deregulating the telecom industry were the developed nations to, say, cease agricultural and export subsidies.

The proponents of 'free market' development tend to be very selective in their targets, and this degree of selectivity (surprise!) always seems to favour developed nations and entrenched economic interests.


And that was the end of the discussion, as of this morning.

Solving the Problem

Regarding: Don’t Worry — Ward Churchill Will Solve the Problem

Anne D. Neal argues, "The reality remains that faculties are politically imbalanced, many course readings and campus speaking events are one-sided, and there is a basic hostility to ideas outside of campus orthodoxies. It’s time for the institutions to take concrete steps to live up to their words."

I was fortunate enough in my education to have been exposed not only to the espousal of Marxist thought in the philosophy department but also to varying strains of conservative thought in history and geography, pragmatics in computer engineering, and even the confessional approach to teaching in religious studies.

My experience suggests that if there is an inclination on the part of professors to return higher grades to work that reflects their own views, this inclination operates equally regardless of political affiliation. And I have the low grades and battle scars from conflicts with the aqcademic right in order to prove it.

Allegiance in academia runs in streaks. In my dealings with the Business faculty I found not one person who did not believe in the merits of capitalism and free enterprise. Through the numerous courses I took in Religious Studies I found not one irreligious professor. Sitting on the Board of Governors I found that I was the lone socialist, with the more leftward strains of communism and Marxism not represented at all!

One wonders, when we hear voices from the right calling for greater diversity and balance, why their aim is not so diverse. From my perspective, it would be healthy to have substantial representation from the Muslim community teaching at Oral Roberts University. Business faculties worldwide could do with more thought representative of Singer's deep ecology or Freire's liberation theology.

Indeed, one wonders why the calls for diversity end at the ivory tower walls. Where is the representation from the left on the New York Stock Exchange, in the membership among boards and CEOs in the Fortune 500, in the membership of the various think tanks and agencies that have been created to foster the conservative agenda? In Canada I ask, why no socialists at the Fraser Institute?

If we are to embrace diversity of political opinion, moreover, what will we then do regarding the demographics of those who self-select to enter into a life of service rather than business and profit? It seems that if a person is called to enter the teaching and research professions, then a condition of this is the freedom of opinion and expression.

If there is indeed a tilt to the left in academia, this much is self-evident: the tilt is the result of numerous highly intelligent and strong-willed people, the best of a generation, freely choosing to support and express left-wing political points of view. Efforts to redress this by legislation rather than reason reveal, if anything, the intellectual paucity of the conservative position, a belated recognition that force must be used where reason has failed.

But, in fact, I sincerely doubt that there is such a tilt. As I said, political opinion runs in streaks, and the carefully chosen samples of the surveys can show the opposite if their methodology is applied to a different sample.

Moreover, what constitutes 'left' and 'right' is very much in the eyes of the beholder. From my perspective, American academia is almost unrelentingly right wing, with strong streaks of militarism, patriotism and capitalism pervasive. The positions that for me characterize left-wing thought - global justice, demilitarization, social service and infrastructure - are in my experience minority views in American academic thought.

The sort of 'right wing' thought being touted as under-represented by Horowitz and his ilk is to me a dangerously extreme form of conservative thought, one that is rare in its expression elsewhere in the world, and subject to only a small minority of popular support anywhere save some deeply conservative regions in the U.S.

Even were one to disagree with my characterization of what constitutes 'left' versus 'right', the question remains, who decides? How does one establish a balance when the parameters of that balance are themselves open to debate? How does one respond to a left-winger who depicts a 'balanced' academia as equally divided between Marxists and Leninists?

And it is here, I think, that the poverty of Horowitz-style arguments becomes evident. For what such arguments amount to is not a genuine appeal to diversity, but rather, a reframing of the academic agenda to recognize a particular sort of political philosophy to be regarded as definitive in the definition of academic schools of thought and culture. Such an argument ought to be rejected, for it denies the very diversity it seeks to espouse.

A rhetoric consistent with diversity would call, not for an artificial and politically motivated 'balancing' of political views, but rather, a fostering of the means and conditions known to encourage diversity. Foremost among these is freedom of thought and freedom of expression, the very conditions the Horowitz approach would first undermine.

The existence of a Ward Churchill in any branch of academia should serve of proof of the capacity of the educational system to embrace diversity rather than as a clarion call to arms in an effort to silence such voices. Diversity requires, needs, is defined by the existence of voices that are uncomfortable, not only to a minority, but to the majority. Freedom of thought essentially requires the capacity to be the only person in the world who holds a certain set of beliefs, and to be able express those beliefs.

The inevitable result of a legislated form of political diversity in academic will be a form of intellectual monoculture, where voices such as Churchill's are silenced, on the grounds that they are 'not representative'. This would be the death of the educational system, and the birth of a system of propaganda and indoctrination.