Plant and Animal Diversity Is Declining, But What About Microbial Diversity?

May 11, 2021

RealClear Science

“With alarms sounding about the declining diversity and populations of plants and animals, we post a related concern with equally profound implications: is the variety of microbial life, including viruses, changing too, and if so, in which direction and how fast? As plant and animal numbers shrink, some specialized microbes associated with them might vanish, too. But is there a net overall reduction occurring? If so, is it good or bad news or irrelevant for our species?”

Time to Measure the Abundance of Ocean Life

March 2021

RealClear Science

“As humanity enters what the United Nations has designated the Ocean Decade, we do not know the total amount of marine life, the biomass, in the oceans.  Many experts firmly believe the abundance of marine life is diminishing. However, we have time series for only a few taxa, and these make up a small fraction of the total amount of life. We have only crude, uncertain estimates of biomass by trophic level.”

How to Lead Innovation in a Changed World

September 2020

Issues in Science and Technology

“For a holistic twenty-first century science and technology policy, the United States must go beyond the Endless Frontier.

In borrowing its title from the 1945 policy framework created by Vannevar Bush, the Endless Frontier Act currently before Congress seeks to increase federal government investment in science and technology to “combat China” and boost American innovation. Bush’s vision was successful in the post-World War II years, but the S&T system has undergone fundamental change —both domestically and internationally—in the intervening 75 years. What is needed now is an entirely new framework fit for the unique social, technological, and security concerns of the twenty-first century. Bush’s original Endless Frontier may be best known for increasing federal funding and creating the science agencies we know today, but its true legacy is the way it analyzed the existing S&T system, created a new institutional landscape, and offered a global model for others.

For the United States to remain a leader in global science and technology, focusing on only one kind of input (federal investment) or on one other country (China) won’t be sufficient. In fact, a fundamentally new approach to S&T policy is required, one that can leverage and optimize the diverse and dynamic system that has evolved, manage new risks, and better deliver benefits to society.”

The Art of Net Assessment and Uncovering Foreign Military Innovations: Learning from Andrew W. Marshall’s Legacy


Journal of Strategic Studies

“Andrew W. Marshall, who shaped the way in which contemporary international security experts think about strategy, has been mostly associated with the invention of net assessment. The intellectual sources of this analytical technique, and of the related competitive strategies concept, could be traced to Marshall’s efforts to uncover Soviet post-World War II defense transformations. This article outlines the essence of these Soviet innovations – the empirical frame of reference that inspired Marshall. It provides a new perspective on the history of the net-assessment methodology, advances the debate within strategic studies over the nature of military innovations, and offers insights for experts examining defense transformations worldwide.”

The Flaring of Intellectual Outliers: An Organizational Interpretation of the Generation of Novelty in the RAND Corporation

April 2015

Organization Science

“Much of intellectual history is punctuated by the flaring of intellectual outliers, small groups of thinkers who briefly, but decisively, influence the development of ideas, technologies, policies, or worldviews. To understand the flaring of intellectual outliers, we use archival and interview data from the RAND Corporation after the Second World War. We focus on five factors important to the RAND experience: (1) a belief in fundamental research as a source of practical ideas, (2) a culture of optimistic urgency, (3) the solicitation of renegade ambition, (4) the recruitment of intellectual cronies, and (5) the facilitation of the combinatorics of variety. To understand the subsequent decline of intellectual outliers at RAND, we note that success yields a sense of competence, endurance in a competitive world, and the opportunity and inclination to grow. Self-confidence, endurance, and growth produce numerous positive consequences for an organization; but for the most part, they undermine variety. Outliers and the conditions that produce them are not favored by their environments. Engineering solutions to this problem involve extending time and space horizons, providing false information about the likelihoods of positive returns from exploration, buffering exploratory activities from the pressures of efficiency, and protecting exploration from analysis by connecting it to dictates of identities.”

The Hidden Hand Behind America’s Foreign Policy

January 23, 2015

The Wall Street Journal

“In the annals of strategic thought from Sun Tzu through Carl Von Clausewitz, and the chronicles of long public service from Queen Victoria through Adm. Hyman Rickover, Andrew Marshall has an honorable place.”

The Quiet American

January 8, 2015

The Economist

“He rarely speaks in public and almost never to the press. Most of his reports are secret. A historian once asked if even his brain was classified. But for over four decades Andrew Marshall’s judgments, emanating from a small office in the Pentagon, have guided American defence policy.”

In Search of a Successor for the Pentagon’s “Yoda”

January 2, 2015


“Since Andrew Marshall founded the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment in the early ’70s, he’s been the only person to head the think tank. But at the age of 93, Marshall—nicknamed “Yoda” after the sage extraterrestrial character from “Star Wars”—is retiring, according to the Washington Post.”

“Yoda” Still Standing: Office of Pentagon Futurist, Andrew Marshall, 92, Survives Budget Ax

December 4, 2013

The Washington Post

“Yoda is the nom de guerre for Andrew W. Marshall, the 92-year-old futurist who directs the Pentagon’s obliquely named internal think tank, the Office of Net Assessment. A fixture in national-security circles since the dawn of the Cold War, Marshall contemplates military strategy and apocalyptic scenarios that could emerge in the decades to come.”

In Search of Strategic Foresight

November 1, 2013

Foreign Policy

“The current situation is such that the U.S. cannot afford to continue devoting resources to defense without a well-thought-out strategy for competing…We can no longer indulge in the ‘rich man’ strategy of insuring against all possible adverse futures…We can no longer afford to compete by simply doing more of the same.”

Pentagon Weighs Future of Its Inscrutable Nonagenarian Futurist

October 27, 2013

The Washington Post

“From his office deep inside the Pentagon, Yoda has outlasted the Cold War, countless military conflicts and 10 presidential elections. But can he survive the sequester? Yoda is the reverential nickname for Andrew W. Marshall, a legendary if mysterious figure in national security circles. A bald, enigmatic 92-year-old strategic guru, he resembles the Jedi master of “Star Wars” fame in more ways than one.”