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The Dangerous Gap Between Scientific Evidence and Policymaking Decisions

The Politics of Evidence-Based Policymaking (October 26, 2016)

Policymakers do not have the time or ability to consider all evidence that is relevant to policy problems. Instead, they employ two kinds of shortcuts: rational, by pursuing clear goals and prioritizing certain kinds and sources of information, and irrational, by drawing on emotions, gut feelings, deeply held beliefs, and habits.

In his book The Politics of Evidence-Based Policymaking, Paul Cairney identifies practical consequences for actors trying to maximize the uptake of scientific evidence within government. He believes scientists have a stark choice: to produce information and accept it will have a limited impact—but maintain for scientists an often useful image of objectivity—or go beyond their comfort zone and expertise to increase impact at the expense of objectivity.

Cairney presented his argument at a recent talk moderated by Brett Davidson, director of the Media and Narratives Division of the Open Society Public Health Program.

Listen to the event above.

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