Policy survey

As regular readers know, wearing one of my hats I edit Policy, the quarterly journal of the Centre for Independent Studies.

If you read Policy – even if only occasionally or online – I’d like to hear your views on it via a short survey on the Policy website.

Also online from the Spring issue is Henry Ergas on government as a risk manager, Eric Crampton on public health and the new paternalism, and me on what economic liberals believe (using the political identity survey results many blog readers contributed to, but combining classical liberals, libertarians, and social conservatives and economic liberals into one ‘economic liberal’ group).

31 Responses to “Policy survey

  • 1
    Mitch
    October 13th, 2009 14:17

    Don’t tinker with it too much. Policy’s an exceptional publication, imo.

  • 2
    Rajat Sood
    October 13th, 2009 14:49

    I suggested printing some letters, but Andrew, you might have told me before that this has been considered in the past.

  • 3
    Andrew Norton
    October 13th, 2009 14:57

    Rajat – We do occasionally print them, but we don’t get many. Partly I think this is the problem in running a debate in a magazine that only comes out every three months. Most readers won’t recall the detail of the original article. Usually when I get a request to write a response to an article, I encourage the author to write a freestanding piece with an opposing perspective rather than strain readers’ memories.

  • 4
    Jeremy
    October 13th, 2009 18:20

    I agree with Mitch. And the book reviews are outstanding.

  • 5
    Andrew Norton
    October 13th, 2009 18:39

    “And the book reviews are outstanding.”

    If he does say so himself:)

  • 6
    Brendan
    October 13th, 2009 23:03

    Agreed Jeremy. I particularly like the one on John Taylor’s book, reviewed by my favourite writer :)

  • 7
    Tran
    October 13th, 2009 23:25

    Brendan is an awesome writer. I love his work. That is all.

  • 8
    Russell
    October 14th, 2009 00:34

    These online articles …. for people who might want to ‘harvest’ them and pop them into their own database, it would be much more convenient to have nice little PDFs. Luckily I have neat little tools for making attractive PDFs out of the HTML, but it’s just 10 minutes of my life wasted.

  • 9
    Andrew Norton
    October 14th, 2009 06:09

    Russell – I’m sure you would not like the articles anyway, but I agree with the pdf point. One of the points I am exploring in the survey is whether there is demand for the entire issue to be availabe in pdf form.

  • 10
    Irf
    October 29th, 2009 23:58

    I’m amused by your most recent issue which includes a review of my book by the CIS’s token Bangladeshi Tanveer “nooooo bingoooooo” Ahmed. His criticisms of my book include:

    1. That I am obese;

    2. That I apparently cannot pick up chicks.

    The fact that you allowed this review to appear in your magazine says alot about the calibre of the publication. How low can Policy go? Will we be seeing a centrefold of Ayn Rand in a nightie in the next edition?

    Little wonder the only way you can get new subscribers is to pair up with Quadrant.

    Keep trying. And let me know when (or rather, if) Dr Ahmed’s book ever gets published. I’d love to review it.

  • 11
    Andrew Norton
    October 30th, 2009 06:42

    For the record, the review does not criticise Irfan for being obese and doesn’t directly comment on his attractiveness to the opposite sex, though it implies that he was not. Irfan’s physical appearance is mentioned in a section on how socially awkward young people who feel like outsiders are vulnerable to radicalisation. As Irfan’s book explains, he was interested in becoming a global jihadist as a young man. In the context, I decided that reference to Irfan’s weight was relevant to describing a psychological profile of people who consider extreme acts of violence.

  • 12
    Irf
    October 30th, 2009 10:21

    For the record, I was interested in going for an anti-communist jihad at age 16. At the time I was 65 kg in weight and had numerous female friends and a girlfriend. Hardly obese. Hardly socially awkward.

    Tell me this, Andrew. Back in 1985, would you have described my wish to go fight the Soviet Union as an act of dangerous radical jihadism? I somehow doubt it. If you don’t believe me, you should read “Charlie Wilson’s War” or watch the movie. Thinktanks like yours were openly supporting the jihad in Afghanistan.

    You would have seen me when I was at the L & S conference in 1995. Was I socially awkward?

    Your decision to publish this review was grossly irresponsible. How many people on the CIS board could be described as obese? Do you regard them as socially awkward and prone to radicalisation? True, they are probably radical worshippers of the free market and their own self-interest.

    Policy has become a joke. The CIS has become a joke. A thinktank that engages failed comedians as research associates cannot be taken seriously.

  • 13
    Irf
    October 30th, 2009 10:25

    By the way, let me know when you next choose to invite Daniel Pipes as a guest speaker. Be sure to distribute copies of his articles where he claims Barack Obama was a Muslim and would fail a homeland security test.

  • 14
    melaleuca
    October 30th, 2009 10:57

    Andrew,

    If you endorse this sort of home baked amateur psychology being deployed against Irf then you forfeit the right to take the moral high ground when libertarian indifference to the needs of others is described as social autism.

    I’m now motivated to buy Irf’s book.

  • 15
    Jason Soon
    October 30th, 2009 11:02

    I thought aside from that awkward bit which was at the borderline between homespun psychology and fair comment, Ahmed’s review was actually pretty much a positive one of Irfan’s work. Irfan has to develop a thicker skin.

  • 16
    Jason Soon
    October 30th, 2009 11:08

    Mel
    Cut the crap. Jihadists are subject to psychological speculation all the time. it actually is a legitimate area of research, as are the psychology of Red army recruits, etc. Irfan’s book is about his experiences as an ex jihadist. Now he claims to not use the term himself.

  • 17
    Andrew Norton
    October 30th, 2009 11:13

    For the benefit of anyone who is interested, the relevant passage is copied in below.

    In my view it is explanation more than insult, though I can understand why Irfan is sensitive about it. But he wrote an autobiography and so exposed himself to public discussion.

    I’d also note that Irfan has a long history of robust attacks on other people – his comments here being merely the latest. He plays tough and should expect that others hit back -though this review was overall relatively mild and had some positive things to say.
    ————————————–

    Yusuf was born in Karachi in 1969 to a Pakistani father and an Indian mother. He attended a madrassa as a boy in Pakistan and lived in New Jersey for a while before returning to Sydney. In his teens Yusuf became energised to fly to Afghanistan and fight for global jihad. He developed his zeal in a Muslim youth camp, but he and his fellow teen Islamist activists were persuaded against such actions by a religious leader. His account re-iterates the difficulties young Muslims can have developing a coherent identity while raised between the liberal West and strict households that attempt to distance children from local cultural practices, which some parents view as morally corrupt.
    Yusuf also fits the profile of those vulnerable to radicalisation in other ways, for it is the socially awkward who are most likely turn to Islamist teachings for a sense of social connectedness, in much the same way that other disaffected adolescents may become punks or Goths. Yusuf writes of being bullied because of the colour of his skin while in primary school. He is also obese. In a recent New York Times op-ed piece, an Iranian blogger captured it beautifully when he describes the religious police as ‘those ‘young men least likely to ever attract the opposite sex but then find the government tells them they are special and give them guns to prove it.’

  • 18
    Andrew Norton
    October 30th, 2009 11:16

    Mel – The author of the review is a psychiatrist with experience in treating people with these issues.

  • 19
    Jason Soon
    October 30th, 2009 11:32

    I’d also note that Irfan has a long history of robust attacks on other people

    Like telling a speaker at a CIS function to ‘drop dead’ or words to that effect.

  • 20
    melaleuca
    October 30th, 2009 11:46

    Soon says:

    “Cut the crap. Jihadists are subject to psychological speculation all the time. it actually is a legitimate area of research, as are the psychology of Red army recruits, etc. Irfan’s book is about his experiences as an ex jihadist. Now he claims to not use the term himself.”

    Learn to read, doodle chops. I didn’t say psychological explanations should not be used to explain why people are drawn to certain groups. But that should also include political ideologies so it is not sufficient for libertarians to declare suggestions they are socially autistic mere ad hom.

    Andrew, the reviewer invents facts, such as Irf’s teen obesity and inability to pull a chick. He may well be a psych but his theorising is still half-baked amateur stuff.

  • 21
    Andrew Norton
    October 30th, 2009 12:05

    “so it is not sufficient for libertarians to declare suggestions they are socially autistic mere ad hom.”

    I didn’t – While I said there was no evidence for this particular diagnosis, I did argue that liberalism called for emotional restraint in politics, and so there was something to this charge.

  • 22
    Irf
    October 30th, 2009 12:25

    The author of the review is not legally permitted to hold himself out as a psychiatrist. He is a psychiatric registrar. I’m not aware of him having any exprience in dealing with such issues. Indeed, the degree of his training and expertise is well summed-up here …

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/a-medical-examination-thats-too-cruel-for-words/2008/06/02/1212258733551.html

  • 23
    Irf
    October 30th, 2009 12:37

    “Irfan’s book is about his experiences as an ex jihadist. Now he claims to not use the term himself.”

    Jason, whose side were you on back in 1985? Would you have been barracking for the Soviets? Did you have posters of Brezhnev up in your bedroom?

    Andrew, who did your old boss Dr Kemp support in the conflict between the mujahideen and the Soviet Union? And who would Mark Steyn have supported back then (when he wasn’t at the theatre)? And who was Daniel Pipes and his dad supporting?

    My former local member John Howard supported the Afghan jihadists. Everyone on the Right did. When I read allegedly conservative pundits claim that the Left are in bed with Islamists, I laugh.

    The cult of jihadism exists because of the Cold War. Afghan mujahideen representatives regularly spoke at conservative gatherings such as the Captive Nations’ Council and at Liberal Party branch meetings.

    Had Tanveer read the book, he’d have learned that the Afghan jihad was not a fight for a global jihad. It was a fight to liberate Afghanistan from Soviet occupation. Some veterans of the war did go on to join wacky groups like al-Qaida. Others are now busy rigging Afghan elections.

  • 24
    Andrew Norton
    October 30th, 2009 12:47

    Tanveer passed the admission test at a subsequent sitting. Clearly he is not the only one failing to check every personal fact…

  • 25
    Irf
    October 30th, 2009 13:04

    He certainly isn’t. His editor shares that role quite nicely.

    You and the CIS published a review from someone who had not read the book and that engaged in direct personal attacks. As editor, you allowed this through. You knew or should have known it was a personal attack.

    Obesity is hardly evidence of social awkwardness. It is also of little relevance to radicalisation. Perhaps you might consult with members of the CIS board, especially those who aren’t exactly slim, and ask if they would be tempted to start a revolution.

    Your publication of such a grossly offensive review reflects on you personally as well as on the CIS. It shows that Policy is not a magazine worth taking seriously.

  • 26
    Irf
    October 30th, 2009 13:11

    “In my view it is explanation more than insult, though I can understand why Irfan is sensitive about it. But he wrote an autobiography and so exposed himself to public discussion.”

    Public discussion about one’s appearance? Have I ever commented on your personal appearance, Andrew? Have I commented on Greg Lindsay’s appearance? Have I commented on Tanveer Ahmed’s appearance?

    Have I speculated on the abilities of anyone working for the CIS to attract sexual partners?

    Keep explaining, Andrew. You only dig yourself and the CIS deeper. Maybe Pipes had the right idea after all.

  • 27
    Andrew Norton
    October 30th, 2009 13:34

    Irf – I don’t – and can’t, given the time involved – fact check every claim made in Policy. I query them where they look like they might be wrong, which was not the case here as you are overweight. So the issue from my perspective was whether it was relevant to the point being made. While I admit it was not essential, it was relevant for the reasons described in a previous comment.

  • 28
    Jason Soon
    October 30th, 2009 13:47

    Jason, whose side were you on back in 1985?

    Spiderman. I was 10 in 1985. But as a militant atheist from early on I probably would have been barracking for the Soviets as a lesser evil had I formed an opinion on the Afghan war at the time.

  • 29
    Irf
    October 30th, 2009 14:00

    So Andrew, you acknowledge that:

    1. You specifically noticed the references to my physical appearance and ability or otherwise to gain female attention;

    2. You did not see it as necessary to decide whether these references reflected reality; and

    3. You relied on the alleged expertise and knowledge of the reviewer.

    How often is Policy published? Does the CIS lack sufficient resources to be able to avoid making basic errors which leave it exposed?

    And was Usama bin Reag … woops … Ladin obese and unable to attract chicks?

  • 30
    melaleuca
    October 30th, 2009 14:22

    “did argue that liberalism called for emotional restraint in politics, and so there was something to this charge.”

    Been reading the posts and comments threads at Catallaxy these past few weeks, Andrew? You’d find more restraint in a Babylonian whore house.

    Anyway, enuf, it’s Friday. Yippeeeee!

  • 31
    Andrew Norton
    October 30th, 2009 14:46

    Mel – Not just these last few weeks at Catallaxy. Many years. I was talking about the philosophy, but clearly at a personal level there are exceptions in the online state of nature.