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Evidence-Based Policy: Doing it Better

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  • UserDr. Nancy Cartwright, Professor of Philosophy at Durham University, LSE, and University of California at San Diego; Director of the Durham Centre for Humanities Engaging Science and Society; Fellow of the British Academy
  • ClockThursday 12 December 2013, 17:00-19:00
  • HouseSG1, Alison Richard Building, Sidgwick Site.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Ryan Rafaty.

An open lecture and discussion with Nancy Cartwright on the topic of her recent book, Evidence-Based Policy (Oxford University Press), which reviewers have said is “essential reading for anyone who aspires to rational policy-making.”

For the last two decades or so, policymakers have been enjoined to base their recommendations on evidence. That is now uncontroversial to the point of triviality—of course policy should be based on the facts. But are the methods that policymakers rely on to gather and analyze evidence the right ones? Nancy Cartwright explains that the dominant methods now in use—methods that imitate standard practices in medicine, like randomized control trials—do not work. They fail because they do not enhance our ability to predict if policies will be effective.

Current guides for the use of evidence tend to rank scientific methods according to the degree of trustworthiness of the evidence they produce. That is valuable in certain respects, but it offers little advice about how to think about putting such evidence to use. How, then, can policymakers use evidence effectively? Prof. Cartwright will explain what types of information are most necessary for making reliable policy and offer lessons on how to organize that information.

The lecture will be followed by a wine reception.

This talk is part of the CISA series.

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