Fixing problems

[Crossposted at SpreadingScience]

I expect some traffic from people following the Huffington Post article about Peter Rubin.

I always get a few butterflies in my stomach when I talk with a reporter who contacts me out of the blue. As with most things, trust is important. Also, I have a tendency to babble a lot on the phone, especially when talking extemporaneously, so I always worry if I will say something that does not exactly fit what I really mean. I hope I did not sound like too much of a Pollyanna.

I think Arthur did a reasonable job, particularly since he was talking with me for the first time and having to deal with my speech patterns.

The point I had is that I’m torn because there are vitally important reasons for some companies to need the expertise of some people so I do not want to prevent access to their expertise. But I also do not ant to see people using their position, particularly if it is a tax=payer supported one, to simply enrich themselves.

How to remove the latter without harming the former?

One big point I made to Arthur Delaney, who was the reporter that called, was that openness and transparency are a huge part of solving what is a difficult problem. Shining a light into this process makes it much less likely that people will game the system. Not impossible but less likely.

It seems to me that much of the misbehavior that many people partake in comes from the fact that they can carry out this bad behavior, and escape its consequences, because is happens in the dark, behind the scenes.

Most people – not all, I’m not that much of an idealist – may modify their misbehavior if they know that others can see it. And if they know that there will be consequences if they do misbehave.

There are lots of important, legitimate reasons for organizations to need the expertise of a range of people who have worked in government or for a company or for an NGO. To be successful, specialized expertise is sometimes needed. This expertise can be critical, particularly for small companies.

We need to make sure that those types of interactions are not harmed.

Real openness should not harm them. At least I hope not.

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