Meet Ian Hart, the athletic and self-confessedly “BoBo” author of Integrity of Science, a blog about public policy and the abuse of science—a fan of Caravaggio and detractor of strip malls.
What’s your name?
What do you do when you’re not blogging?
I’m the Communications Director for the Pacific Institute, a nonpartisan, independent think-tank in Oakland, California, that uses interdisciplinary analysis to develop solutions to threats to sustainability at the intersection of environment, development, and society.
In my free time I paint (oils in a realist style), run marathons, and enjoy California wine and cuisine.
What is your blog called?
Integrity of Science
What’s up with that name?
It’s an outgrowth of the Institute’s Integrity of Science initiative. Misuse and abuse of science is nothing new, but it has taken on a new, ugly form in recent years. We started the initiative in 2006 to respond to and counter the assault on science and scientific integrity in the public policy arena, especially on issues related to water, climate change, and security.
How long have you been blogging, anyway?
Since February 2006.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I grew up north of Boston and currently live in San Francisco.
Would you describe yourself as a working scientist?
I would describe myself as a communicator and policy analyst.
Any educational experiences or degrees you’d like to mention?
I hold a Masters in Public Policy from the University of California at Berkeley.
What are your main academic interests, in or out of your field?
Environmental Policy, Human Rights, Economics, and Art History (Italian Renaissance and Baroque; Euro-American Post-Impressionists).
Last book you read?
I just finished Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections.
What is your idea of a perfect day?
Going for a morning run, driving up to Sonoma while catching This American Life on the radio, do some wine tasting and picnicking, disco nap, nice dinner out, top it off with a low-key house party. It’s safe to say I’m a BoBo.
What’s your greatest habitual annoyance?
Do you mean what drives me nuts? Aside from abuses of science, I’d say strip malls. I’ve traveled a lot over the West and Midwest this past year, and aside from the obvious environmental implications of strip malls, it makes me sad that so many parts of this country are just becoming completely generic. Cities hundreds or thousands of miles apart are becoming completely indistinguishable. I grew up in a town with a lot of great locally-owned restaurants, from the high school sub shop to a couple high-end Italian restaurants. These are places that would mop the floor with the Subways and Olive Gardens of the world. But these local businesses are disappearing. Our communities are literally losing their local flavor. And they’re losing jobs and profits. It depresses me to land in a city I’ve never been before, yet all my dining or shopping options are completely familiar.
Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?
The Finch family from To Kill a Mockingbird. Ken Kesey’s characters in Cuckoo’s Nest and Sometimes a Great Notion, the latter of which may be my favorite book. Ralph in Lord of the Flies. And only your comic geek readers will get this, but Chris Claremont-era X-Men featured some of the best written and most moral stories I’ve read. Admittedly, most of my recreational reading in grade school involved pictures.
Your favorite heroes in real life?
Martin Luther King, Jr., Bill Clinton, SF Mayor Gavin Newsom, David Bowie, Caravaggio, and my parents.
What’s your most marked characteristic?
Empathetic tinged with a general lack of self-awareness.
What’s your fatal flaw?
I’m prone to distraction. TV is my enemy. If I still had cable I might not ever leave the house.
Who are your favorite writers?
Dave Eggers, Ken Kesey, Hunter S. Thompson, many of the “New, New Journalists.” And I’ve only read Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, but it’s the best book I’ve read in years.
What would you like to be?
Two inches taller and out of debt.