Scientific Policies

Friday, May 11, 2012

Jim Manzi, founder and chairman of Applied Predictive Technologies (APT), an applied artificial intelligence software company, contributing editor at National Review and the author of Uncontrolled: The Surprising Payoff of Trial-and-Error for Business, Politics, and Society, says we need to bring scientific tactics, like controlled experiments, to public policy. Read more about Manzi's proposition here


Jim Manzi

Comments [5]

Peter from Manhattan

Isn't it obvious why public policies are rarely evaluated? Many of them are not meant to work but to appeal to benighted voters. Abstinence-only sex education, the war on drugs, and military boondoggles come to mind.

May. 11 2012 11:47 AM
Susan Burger from Upper West Side

OK, Brian, I am now forgiving you for having Hanna Rosin on for her poorly written and researched article in the Atlantic. Actually I love your show even though you put Hanna Rosin on. I'm loving Jim Manzi. This is exactly what breastfeeding promotion needs. So many things are assumed to work, that don't work in some settings. For instance, La Leche League kept breastfeeding going during an era when women were told not to. But La Leche League appeals to the die hards and the lucky. Peer support is now accepted among my colleagues at the best way to improve breastfeeding. Yet, I find that women routinely get pissed off with the there there you can do it if you only believe in yourself approach when they have significant problems. We are now finding that despite putting lactation consultants in hospitals which only covers the first three days of life and peer support - we are not improving breastfeeding duration. I think a radically new approach needs to be tested with different groups -- those women with significant problems breastfeeding and women who REBEL and the concept of what I call the "rainbows and unicorns" approach to breastfeeding. We need more randomly assigned groups for testing out many of our policies.

My cousin actually had his research on families after divorce suppressed because the Bush administration didn't like his results that shows that remarriage didn't necessarily help children become more well adjusted.

May. 11 2012 11:46 AM
Gerald Fnord from Palos Verdes, Ca.

The scientific method appears to be the best way of discovering things about the universe, largely because it allows young people to gain status by poking holes in theories that older people have already established, so it marries the primate need for status to the search for truths, often useful truths. As such, it would be nice to use it to find out things about society...but it will almost inevitably get into trouble because its whole point is to establish only a provisional consensus, and it is (at its best) no respecter of tradition or of primate dominance structures.

Today's Republicans fear science because (at best) it similarly respects neither money nor votes, and so introduces Mere Facts that make people doubt The Truth...these facts are inconvenient to those who are already on top, which is why the poorer you are, the more you should support the proper use of the scientific method, since it is the only mode of knowledge such that arguments can't be won by force or by paid shouters.

They are not alone in this: anyone, right, left, or indifferent, who feels they have a complete and perfect mapping of the universe will be disturbed when the scientific method starts to show the gaps and errors in that mapping.

May. 11 2012 11:15 AM
Ron Sanecki from Keyport NJ

Are not the chinese doing this?
Have they not been doing it for a while?

May. 11 2012 10:49 AM

Why do republicats fear science?

May. 11 2012 10:36 AM

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