A public service announcement – Logistics for global health and aid - A Humourless Lot

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A public service announcement

by Michael Keizer on March 5, 2010

Over the next few weeks, I will be doing some maintenance on A Humourless Lot. As a result, you might see some small changes in lay-out, and there might be the occasional very short period of down-time. I hope that, in the end, it will lead to a better blog that is easier to read and use.

Secondly, the number of attempted spam comments has grown to more than 10,000/month. Up to now, I tried to screen manually everything that Akismet flagged as spam before permanently deleting; with these numbers of spam comments and a filter accuracy of more than 99.98% (i.e. only one or two legit comments per month that are trashed), this is no longer possible, and consequently I will send everything that looks like spam to Akismet to the great bit fields. If your comment does not appear, just send me a message and I will retrieve it from the sin bin – but please do so within a couple of days, because that is how long it will remain in limbo before being terminated with extreme prejudice.

Thirdly, I have had some questions about possible conflicts of interest because I write about global health and aid while having been (and hopefully being again) employed in that sector. I really don’t want to have to think about every possible conflict of interest every time I write an article. So, here is my generic disclaimer: assume that everything I write is conflicted to the utmost; that all my opinions are paid for by the highest bidder (and in case I have forgotten to arrange this, that this will be corrected forthwith); that my writing is as partisan and biased as is humanly possible; and that everything you read on this blog needs to be verified and checked – and double-checked. And then judge what I write on its arguments, not on who it’s coming from.

We apologise for this short intermission and will now resume our normal program.

[Image: DrinkSJB by SJB @ Picasa. Some rights reserved.]

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Don Lovell March 5, 2010 at 11:11 pm

So, let me get this right. For some, writing about global health and aid though having been employed in the sector is tantamount to a conflict of interest. What I would like to know then, is who should be writing about the subject; possibly someone employed as say, a migrant worker in the agricultural industry?


Michael Keizer March 6, 2010 at 5:14 am

@Don Lovell
Well, perhaps you should ask these people themselves, not me. But, although I don’t agree with it, their arguments are not totally nonsensical and go something like this:

“How can you write critically about organisations that you hope to be employed by later? Is e.g. your article about the logistics in Haiti a sober assessment, or a partisan defense of those organisations? And how can you write critically about logistics practices that you have helped create in the first place? We don’t know, but at least help us by making explicit where your position could possibly influence what you say.”

I really do not want to figure out for every article that I write what these people (some of whom I know and admire, BTW) might see as a possible conflict of interest; hence this general disclaimer.

In any case, it is good practice to verify what you read before you act on it; so I don’t mind a general presupposition that I am biased, if that makes people read what I write in a critical mindset.


Paul C April 4, 2010 at 10:04 pm

For the first time this year, one of my clients asked me to clarify that I wouldn’t be writing about the evaluation I’m doing. Needless to say, I was very pleased that a) somebody was reading the blog and b) they weren’t put off by my horribly bitter and twisted views… It’s better to have a conflict of interest than no interest at all, I guess.

Hold on, that last sentence doesn’t even make sense.


Michael Keizer April 19, 2010 at 6:33 pm

@Paul C
The question then, of course, is also whether they learned anything from reading your ‘bitter and twisted’ blog (apart from the bare fact that you write one). They definitely should.

And for those readers who have not yet discovered Paul’s writings: ‘bitter and twisted’ is probably the most incorrect description of any blog I have ever seen (although it would make a great title for one): humanitarian.info always is a source of interesting discussions, and even for the occasional piece of real wisdom (now there’s a scary word for you).


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