Has Public Policy Become Too Public?

Editors’Note: August 4, 2017
Legitimateobjections have been raised about the independence and integrity of thecommentaries that Henry Miller has written for Project Syndicate and other outlets, inparticular that Monsanto, rather than Miller, drafted some of them. Readersshould be aware of this potential conflict of interest, which, had it beenknown at the time Miller’s commentaries were accepted, would have constitutedgrounds for rejecting them.

In 1897, the House of Representatives in the US state of Indiana unanimously passed legislation that redefined the calculation of the value of pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Fortunately, the bill died in the state senate.

That historical anecdote might elicit a sardonic chuckle from those who remember their high-school mathematics, but around the world non-experts are increasingly being called upon to formulate public policy that requires an understanding of subtle and complex scientific and technological phenomena.

"How can you tell whether a whale is a mammal or a fish?" a teacher asks her third-grade class.