It’s been awfully quiet in the bathhouse, so what better than a field trip to stir some excitement? A few weeks ago there was an excellent Moral Maze featuring Ben Goldacre battling with Claire Fox about the role of evidence in politics. Fox was arguing that ‘groups of unelected self-proclaimed experts stifle political debate’.
There is a vague summary of the show here.
She will be speaking about this very issue on Tuesday February 23 at the LSE. Rather than let the right-wing sops massage her ego, does anyone want to come along with me to argue against her?
Below, guest blogger Alabaster kicks-off the bathhouse forum on ‘The need for evidence-based policy’. Do share your thoughts…
You don’t use science to show that you’re right. You use science to become right.
The above is the precise reason why politicians don’t really like science.
In politics, you need to always be right. Anything you do, must be the right thing. This is because the whole system is based around giving people what they want, whilst simultaneously telling people what they want. You can only tell people what to do if you’re right.
Your average politician aims to achieve certain things. These aims are, optimistically, dictated by their constituents, or, more realistically, dictated by their ‘lobbyist supporters’.
On going into a debate in parliament, the decision of what side to take has almost always been decided already, either by the party whip, or the members own ‘conscience’.
Rigorous scientific investigation, almost by definition, can’t guarantee the result you want. It will attempt to reproduce, as accurately as possible. The true nature of a situation.
This is of no use to politicians.
This is precisely why we need to bring back evidence into decision making. To remind politicians, and real people too, that reality is not what we preconceive it to be, but instead simply what it is.