THB as envisioned by Chat-GPT

Updated May 2024

I started The Honest Broker in October 2020 to highlight data, analyses and commentary missing from public discussions of science, policy and politics.

In June 2022 I decided to make this publication my profession, not just my passion. Since then it has grown rapidly, and is now among the widely read and influential newsletters on Substack, with subscribers in all 50 U.S. states and almost 150 countries around the world. Just over half of THB’s ~23,000 subscribers are in the United States.

My expertise lies at that messy intersection of science, policy and politics across multiple areas — climate, of course, and also extreme weather and its impacts, energy, government science advice, sports governance, scientists in the pandemic response, government science advice and more.

This is me in late 2022

My academic degrees, all earned in the 1990s, are in mathematics, public policy and political science, but I am — to borrow a phrase from from my late friend and mentor Steve Rayner — an undisciplined academic. I publish peer reviewed research in many disciplinary fields, something I’m very proud of and which informs my writing here at THB. You can find a professional bio here.

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Why “The Honest Broker”?

This newsletter takes its title from my book of the same name, published in 2007 and surely the work I am best known for in academia. You can read about the book and its widely discussed framework in this post.

The title is a bit of an in-joke, as one of the arguments of the book is that none of us are particularly well-positioned to actually serve as honest brokers of policy alternatives, as we each have limited perspectives. Honest brokering, as it turns out, is a group effort, which is exactly how I view THB — a group effort.

The icon for the site — THB in red, blue and green — is meant to signify that all perspectives are welcome here (and also demonstrates my lack of expertise in both marketing and design!). My own politics are fairly heterodox and I can pretty much guarantee that I have some views you’ll agree with and some you don’t. In fact, if something I write here at THB doesn’t challenge or provoke you, then I’m not doing my job.

If you are curious about my views on anything, just ask.

At the same time, the readers and commenters at THB are an incredibly smart and experienced group. I learn an enormous amount from them as they challenge and provoke me. It is a great community.

What is the Price of The Honest Broker and What do I Get for It?

I welcome both free and paying subscribers. I have been quite open about trying to use this publication to experiment with a new approach to independent writing and research. So far the experiment is going well — I announced recently that I am leaving academia, which will make THB my primary source of income. It is exciting and a bit scary.

The biggest difference between free and paid subscribers is that I work for the latter. So far the results of this experiment are promising, motivating and humbling. Subscribers to The Honest Broker re-subscribe at a rate of >85% after 2 years.

The price is $80/year or $8/month — and a few times a year I offer a significant discount to free subscribers, to make it more accessible to join the community as a paid subscriber. I also have a “Founders Club” which recommends $500 per year, but which allows you to enter any amount you’d like. This is for those who have the means and interest in supporting THB at the highest level.

I also want paying subscribers to The Honest Broker — what I call THB Pro subscribers — to receive real value beyond the satisfaction of knowing that they are supporting independent research and writing that cannot be found anywhere else. I publish free and subscriber-only posts, share PDFs of my books and paywalled writings, and something I’m very pleased with — the opportunity to participate with you in conversations on the site.

I write a lot. It is a passion. I want your attention to be sparked every time you see a new post from The Honest Broker arrive in your in-box, knowing you are about to read something unique, maybe provocative, and join a community in discussing it.

There are three subscription models:

1.      The annual subscription: $80 annually

2.      The standard monthly subscription: $8 monthly - which gives you a bit more flexibility

3.      Founders club: $500 annually or another amount at your discretion - for those who have the ability and interest to support my work at a higher level

I often run specials with discounts on these prices, so please keep an eye out for those if support at a lower level is more appropriate for you.

All supporters are welcomed and appreciated. Thank you for reading!

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PS. Disclosure on Conflicts of Interest

Like most people, I work for a living.

I am through the end of 2024 a tenured full professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, where I have been employed since 2001. In January, 2024 I affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in Washington, DC as a Nonresident Senior Fellow. I am thrilled to be affiliated with AEI, one of the most important think tanks in the United States, which houses some of the best policy researchers anywhere.

I have no research funding other than the support that readers provide via Substack. I like it that way. We academics are always seeking funding from one source or another, and I appreciate doing that out in public. Over the decades I have received millions in research funding, virtually all from U.S. science agencies. My most recent grant was from NSF 2020-2021 on science advice in COVID-19 and was for ~$150k.

I occasionally give talks — I am a very good speaker and I plan to do more — and of course I expect to be paid for my work. I do not speak on subjects outside my expertise and no one has any editorial oversight on what I say. I welcome the chance to speak before groups that may be predisposed to disagree with my views. I do not accept any financial support for commissioned research.

If I write it, say it or Tweet it … I believe it.

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Making sense of science, policy and politics


Undisciplined scholar, recovering academic I research and write about the messy and complicated places where science meets policy and politics