FEPORT Newsletter – March 2021
About the need for intellectual honesty and academic neutrality
Facts and figures are stubborn, and their merit is to offer good insights into a topic, a reality, or a phenomenon. This is why many experts and academics legitimate their views by providing objective and neutral comments regarding those facts and figures.
The world we are living in and the tensions that are currently spreading in our societies – notably due to the COVID-19 crisis – require wisdom and a preservation of general interest. Lobbies are by nature promoting private interests. Hence the importance of scientific and fact-based analyses that are needed to learn lessons and to avoid the persistence of harmful strategies or choices.
Private industry strategies are primarily naturally focusing on profitability and it is the role of regulators to privilege neutral assessments when evaluating their policies or adjusting them. Regulators’ decisions to support industries should result from cost-benefit analyses and their expectations should be proportionate to the public support (under the form of State Aid, tax breaks, subsidies, or grants, etc…) they allocate to those industries.
It is regrettable to hear or read biased views from few specialized commentators who are either too cautious or reluctant to provide objective analyses on the real causes of disruption in the maritime logistics chain over the last 12 months, or on the implications of the recent incident in the Suez Canal. One may wonder what is behind their reluctance…
For few specialized commentators, news and articles regarding developments in the maritime sector are often subject to the rule “who is not with me is against me”. The result is the prevalence of “mainstream thinking” that looks more like professional “story telling” rather than objective analyses.
Hence, the importance of real experts, neutral academics, professional consultants, and representatives of international institutional bodies who really investigate, raise all relevant questions without any taboos and draw fact-based conclusions.
Therefore, if we could understand to some extent the effects of a kind of “Stockholm syndrome” and/or the pressure driving few specialized commentators and observers of the maritime industry to always tell/promote the “same version of the story”, biased conclusions from academics or public institutions’ representatives seriously throw shade on their legitimacy. Aren’t we entitled to expect from them intellectual honesty and/or academic neutrality?