Friday, 19 April 2013

Evidence and policy

I wanted to link to this column for the money quote.
Well, he’s a bishop, and churchmen don’t get listened to except when they say something insane.
I thought of using it as a stand alone quote but context helps somewhat here. The media ignore the church when she states the truth if the truth is offensive to their politically correct ears. But the nutcases....

West goes on to say,
People in more traditional relationships are more likely to vote Conservative – married women are far more likely to vote Tory or Republican than unmarried ones, so it makes sense for conservative parties to encourage conservative lifestyles. Financially punishing stay at home mums is a strange move for a Conservative government,
to which my immediate response was that conservative governments are not particularly conservative. West subsequently notes this,
The reason for this is probably that the British Conservative leadership are not really culturally conservative;
The article is quite good, my partial disagreement is with this comment,
Yet the whole point of evidence-based policy is that evidence is morally neutral; whether it’s offensive is irrelevant.
I am not certain it is morally neutral. Nevertheless, the problem here is that policy is not derived from evidence based research. Evidence can contribute to policy stating whether something works how it is intended, or not. But this is the is/ought problem. Ineffectual policy may be pointless, but effectual policy remains a moral decision. If seatbelts do not save lives it would be silly to legislate for them; yet if they do save lives this is not reason to mandate them. Personal liberty and responsibility may be overriding factors. I am not certain West would disagree with me here. I mention it as I constantly see evidence of benefit conflated with policy.

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