This multi-award winning channel produces programmes made by volunteers trained by the charity WORLDwrite

Subscribe to our podcasts using your preferred service:

Help with our podcasts

Policy-based evidence?


Policy-based evidence?

MP David Willetts conceded that it is impossible to make policy solely on the basis of scientific evidence. Yet despite this, politicians today rarely make policy statements without citing ‘the evidence’. Whether it’s behavioural economics and social psychology, or neuroscience guiding government intervention, politicians seem keener than ever to cite experts’ findings. Is democracy well-served by an ‘evidence-based’ approach to decision making? Frequently ‘facts’ and ‘evidence’ are deployed to trump ethics or indeed politics. Might this reflect a lack of political conviction or moral authority? Can science and politics collaborate without damaging both? Experts hammer out the issues in this debate filmed at the Battle of Ideas.

Recommended links:

Related topics: Debates, Science Progress

Subscribe to our newsletter


Leave a comment now

the german said:

The absence of the traditional clash of differing outlooks in politics, of left versus right, or labour versus capital, seems to have left politicians today seeking some other source of authority. The impartial, impersonal ‘evidence’ is called upon to fill the gap where once some politically concieved constituency once stood. It seems rational and even scientific to have surveys and analysis conducted as a guide to policymaking, but it is also lacking in belief. What has happened to the Conservatives?

J Howard said:

I like the idea of citizen connosiurs (no idea how you spell that) This is a suprisingly engaging debate I must say I thought the issue might be boring. I don’t like the liberal guy’s rules I don’t think that would work. I think the audience make the best points politicians do use science because they have no bottle to say what they think or maybe like the MP they don’t believe in much and are doing the ‘middle ground’ thing.

Maura said:

The audience seemed to give the MP the hardest time but in general he got off lightly really and seemed to be arging for precisely the managerial politics we could do with less of.