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How to Read The Honest Broker
A subscriber's guide to getting the most out of my Substack
Thank you for being a subscriber! Free, Paid, Founding — wow, I have been overwhelmed by the response since I announced last month my “experiment” with this Substack. Subscriptions continue to increase every day, and for that I am very grateful for your engagement and support.
With this post I provide a reader’s guide to The Honest Broker. What am I doing here? What can you expect? What is the value-added by being a paid subscriber?
What am I doing here?
I’ve been blogging consistently since (gulp) 2005 — Prometheus, RogerPielkeJr, The Least Thing, The Climate Fix, Forbes and more. What that says to me is that I really like writing for a broad audience and the engagement and impact that can result. Based on my track record, you should expect that I will keep doing this for a while.
In fact, the response to my little Substack experiment has been so great, that I am now considering making it the focus of the next stage of my career. It is a ways off yet, but if I get to a point of financial independence via this Substack, I can easily see myself stepping back from academia, perhaps even leaving it altogether (more on that in a future post).
Getting to that point will take some time — But I am on sabbatical during the coming academic year and we will see where I’m at after a year of this experiment, which will be a focus of my sabbatical.
The simple fact is that I can be much more productive, do better academic work and reach far more people via this Substack. Of course, I have the privilege of 25 years in academia, hundreds of peer-reviewed papers, dozens of unique datasets I’ve helped to create and a persistent stubborn streak. That provides an incredible foundation on which to take this experiment on, and one that I am quite aware is not available to everyone.
So if you’d like to support this project, please consider subscribing, it is free. And if you’d like to take a share in supporting my work as a part of this experiment, please consider becoming a paying subscriber, at any level — monthly, annually or founding.
What can you expect here at The Honest Broker?
Most of the content here at The Honest Broker is always going to remain free to everyone — all subscribers and those just stopping by. That said, I intend to ensure that paid subscribers get considerable value added as well.
Here is my current thinking on content and what you should expect to see here as a subscriber:
Ongoing discussions in my areas of expertise. It turns out that I am a expert in a few things (After 25 years of a research career, I would hope so!) I use most of my posts to share my work — including updating past research and data and trying out new proposals, ideas and arguments. The focus of my posts here reflect the focus of my work at that point in time, so emphases will come and go. Here are many of the areas in which I regularly publish, with links to examples.
Science advice to governments (link)
Roles of individual scientists in policy and politics (link)
Expertise in policy and politics more generally (link)
Specifically, COVID-19 expertise in the pandemic (link)
U.S. universities (link)
Disaster impacts on society (link)
Extreme weather trends, including detection & attribution under IPCC (link)
Climate mitigation policy (link)
Climate adaptation policy (link)
Energy policy (link)
Gender eligibility regulations for athletes, mainly elite, but some about scholastic athletes (link)
Football (gridiron) in American society (link)
And occasionally democracy, propaganda, advocacy and more (link)
And I am also happy to take requests (and confidential tips) from you for topics
Series. I am increasingly liking the idea of writing posts that take on one theme across a longer series of posts, which require more than one post to fully explore. I have already started this with the series on “making sense of trends in disaster losses” which you can see here. I will going forward label these as Series. Other topics that will become series here include:
The future of American football (starts next week!)
Understanding “the honest broker” framework, from my book of the same name
Covid-19 origins (lots of posts on this in the archives, to be organized and extended)
And I welcome your recommendations
Interviews. I have started a series of interviews with official, high-level government science advisors about their roles and experiences, stay tuned for those, appearing later this summer or early fall.
Podcasts and media. I appear pretty regularly on various podcasts and in the media, discussing topics such as the above. If you are a podcast listener like me, you might welcome having this content provided here readily available and easily accessible — an example here from earlier this week.
Talks and papers. I give a lot of talks around the world. Just this summer I’ve spoken in South Korea, Austria, Denmark, UK, Switzerland and across the US (example here). I aim to make as much of this content available at The Honest Broker. During my sabbatical I have many talks lined up on a wide range of topics, which I will be sharing here. Also, with many colleagues, I publish a fair number of academic papers, some pretty technical. I aim to make these available (un-paywalled as much as possible!) and made accessible to as broad an audience as possible.
Promoting early career academics. Let’s face it, academia is not all puppy dogs and sunshine. In 2022 it is a hard slog for many early career folks on the tenure track (and don’t even get me started on post-docs and adjuncts), especially those without the advantages and privileges I’ve had over the past 20+ years. I’d like to use this platform to help support early career researchers. I have ideas but also welcome your advice.
What is the value-added by being a paid subscriber?
First and most importantly, you are joining a community in support of my work. If this experiment goes well, you will increasingly become my employer. I increasingly like the idea of working directly for thousands of subscribers who see value in my work. I take that idea seriously. Here is what you can expect as a paying subscriber.
I expect to publish about one post a week that is paywalled for my paying subscribers. So far these have been titled “Weekend Readings” (example here) that provide concise discussions of various topics that cross my desk. These are intended to provoke your thinking and to help make you more informed about the world around us. I’ve had a great reaction to these so far, and expect them to continue (coming next tomorrow!).
Commenting on this site. One of the best innovations about Substack is the ability to limit comments to paying subscribers. This eliminates the trolling and low-quality comments that ruin so many good newsletters and blogs. Here, participating in discussions will always be limited to paying subscribers. I am pleased to say that I have an incredibly high-quality subscriber base in many places around the world. You can join this community.
Access to me. I view paying subscribers as my employers, so you’ll find me responsive on email and Twitter if you fall into this category. (FYI — My Twitter account is still not accessible by me after being stolen while I was sleeping two nights ago. Twitter Support has not responded in more than 48 hours since I file a ticket, grrr!).
Occasional PDFs of books, chapter and papers email straight to your in-box via the email associated with your account.
I welcome your advice and requests on how I can make The Honest Broker of more value to you.
Finally, and with tongue firmly in cheek, if you are among the folks who have worked hard over the past decades and years to push me out of academia, here is your chance! Consider becoming a Founding Member ;-)
Thanks for reading!
Thank you for reading The Honest Broker! I love writing it and sharing with thousands of readers around the world. What sustains the effort are voluntary subscriptions from paying supporters. If you are enjoying the newsletter and would like to join supporters of The Honest Broker, please consider becoming a paid supporter by selecting among the three options. If not, that’s fine also.
Paying subscribers to The Honest Broker receive subscriber-only posts, regular pointers to recommended readings, occasional direct emails with PDFs of my books and paywalled writings and the opportunity to participate in conversations on the site. I am also looking for additional ways to add value to those who see fit to support my work.
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 or interest to support my work at a higher level.