Several readers asked me via e-mail for my reaction to the part of David Chalmers's recent interview where he talked about the fall 2014 smear campaign and the role of the Advisory Board; in case others care, here's my answer. I thought Dave's comments were basically fair; here's the relevant bit of his answer (I bold the part I agree with in particular):
[The threatened] boycott...was damaging the reputation and credibility of the report as well as dividing the profession. Board members started emailing about it and we obviously had to find a way forward. Brian himself had been making noises about stepping down, and this seemed the obvious solution. The board didn't take any stand on the merits of the boycott. Stepping back, I'd say that over the years the report had gradually moved from being Brian's hobby to being an institution in the profession, and it's not too surprising that eventually there was a perceived tension between Brian's institutional role (leading the arbitration of quality in the profession) and his non-institutional role (as an opinionated blogger carrying on many battles within the profession).
The one bit I slightly disagree with is whether the threatened boycott, stirred up by the miscreants in Vancouver, was really going to damage "the reputation and credibility of the report." As I noted at the time, the list of boycotters was somewhat comical, since 90% had never been evaluators and probably never would be, because they were largely marginal characters (anyone with any grievance about anything--especially some feminist activists pissed about my defense of due process and the SPEPPies--basically jumped at this opportunity to attack!). There were a few dozen actual evaluators on the boycott list, and that was concerning to me as well, since it also posed a risk that the PGR I had been working on for three years might never appear, especially if the list grew. So in that regard, I disagree only slightly with Chalmers on that first point. It's an open question whether if the Advisory Board had taken a public position like the one many held--namely, that my cranky e-mails to miscreants had nothing to do with the PGR--whether that would have defused the situation, but that issue is now moot. I've always been an equal opportunity critic and polemicist, so even if I had realized that Carrie Jenkins and her husband had friends on the PGR Advisory Board, and other friends in "high places", I probably would have sent my derisive e-mail to her anyway after her provocation. (I might have been more restrained had I been aware of her mental health problems.) In any case, I do agree with Dave about the stuff in bold. And the important thing, in retrospect, is that we got the 2014 PGR out, and I no longer have responsibility for producing a new one. (Brit Brogaard is still planning to shoot for a new PGR in 2017, as I've mentioned previously. I will, per my agreement with Brit, post appropriate announcements here when things get going.)