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THE YEAR IN IDEAS: A TO Z.; Precautionary Principle
Dec. 9, 2001 | The New York Times | By Michael Pollan.

New technologies can bring mankind great benefits, but they can also cause accidental harm [JCK: "unintended consequences"]. How careful should society be about introducing innovations that have the potential to affect human health and the environment? For the last several decades, American society has been guided by the ''risk analysis'' model, which assesses new technologies by trying to calculate the mathematical likelihood that they will harm the public. There are other ways, however, to think about this problem. Indeed, a rival idea from Europe, the ''precautionary principle 2/3'' has just begun making inroads in America....risk analysis hasn't done a very good job predicting the ecological and health effects of many new technologies. It is very good at measuring what we can know -- say, the weight a suspension bridge can bear -- but it has trouble calculating subtler, less quantifiable risks.......Whatever can't be quantified falls out of the risk analyst's equations, and so in the absence of proven, measurable harms, technologies are simply allowed to go forward......When Germany discovered in the 70's that its beloved forests were suddenly dying, there was not yet scientific proof that acid rain was the culprit. But the government acted to slash power-plant emissions anyway, citing the principle of Vorsorge, or ''forecaring.'' Soon, Vorsorgeprinzip -- the forecaring, or precautionary, principle -- became an axiom in German environmental law. Even in the face of scientific uncertainty, the principle states, actions should be taken to prevent harms to the environment and public health.

Even in the face of scientific uncertainty, the principle states, actions should be taken to prevent harms to the environment and public rules are based on risk-analysis rather than precaution, so if the health risk of, say, eating hormone-treated beef has not been proved, the World Trade Organization ruled that a ban is illegal....the precautionary principle poses a radical challenge to business as usual in a modern, capitalist, technological civilization. ....however, because technological innovations are out and on the market long before the scientific proof of their harms have been gathered, often the public bears the burden/cost of the proving the harm, rather than the innovating company.....If introduced into American law, the precautionary principle would fundamentally shift the burden of proof. The presumptions that flow from the scientific uncertainty surrounding so many new technologies would no longer automatically operate in industry's favor. Scientific uncertainty would no longer argue for freedom of action but for precaution and alternatives.....Critics argue that the precautionary principle is ''antiscientific.'' No and yes. No, in the sense that it calls for more science in order to dispel the uncertainties surrounding new technologies and to develop less harmful alternatives. And yet there is a sense in which the idea is ''antiscientific,'' if by scientific we mean leaving it to scientists to tell us what to do. For the precautionary principle recognizes the limitations of science -- and the fact that scientific uncertainty is an unavoidable breach into which ordinary citizens sometimes must step and act.

From Market Research: Safety Not Always in Numbers | Qualtrics ☑

Author: Qualtrics|July 28, 2010

Albert Einstein once said, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” [Warning of the danger of overquantification) Although many market research experts would say that quantitative research is the safest bet when one has limited resources, it can be dangerous to assume that it is always the best option.
'70s  beforemath  burden_of_proof  environment  evidence_based  Germany  health_risks  Michael_Pollan  overquantification  precaution  principles  public_health  risk-analysis  scientific_uncertainty  technology  unintended_consequences  WTO 
29 days ago by jerryking
Opinion | The Surprising Benefits of Relentlessly Auditing Your Life
May 25, 2019 | The New York Times | By Amy Westervelt, a journalist and podcaster.

"The unexamined life is not worth living" is a famous dictum apparently uttered by Socrates at his trial for impiety and corrupting youth, for which he was subsequently sentenced to death, as described in Plato's Apology (38a5–6).
analytics  data  evidence_based  happiness  housework  marriage  note_taking  patterns  quality_of_life  quantitative  quantified_self  record-keeping  relationships  relentlessness  self-assessment  self-examination  self-improvement  spreadsheets 
may 2019 by jerryking
Evidence-Based policy, systems and environmental change in child care, school, community and family settings and how to evaluate them.
evidence_based  obesity  policy 
april 2016 by michaelmillerjr
What works? - The Long and Short
Shorter D^2: the problem with evidence-based policy is the evidential basis.
(This is obviously correct, and may prompt another communication from the editorial board of the JEBH.)
dsquared  evidence_based  science_as_a_social_process  statistics  to:blog 
march 2016 by cshalizi
The Problem With Evidence-Based Policies by Ricardo Hausmann - Project Syndicate
These are good points, but let's think about how his thought experiment differs from just doing nothing and letting people do whatever....
evidence_based  experiments  social_science_methodology  have_read  to:blog  via:henry_farrell  re:democratic_cognition 
february 2016 by cshalizi
The Political Economy of Agricultural Statistics and Input Subsidies: Evidence from India, Nigeria and Malawi - Jerven - 2013 - Journal of Agrarian Change - Wiley Online Library
"The political economy of agricultural policies – why certain interventions may be preferred by political leaders rather than others – is well recognized. This paper explores a perspective that has previously been neglected: the political economy of the agricultural statistics. In developing economies, the data on agricultural production are weak. Because these data are assembled using competing methods and assumptions, the final series are subject to political pressure, particularly when the government is subsidizing agricultural inputs. This paper draws on debates on the evidence of a Green Revolution in India and the arguments on the effect of withdrawing fertilizer subsidies during structural adjustment in Nigeria, and finally the paper presents new data on the effect of crop data subsidies in Malawi. The recent agricultural census (2006/7) indicates a maize output of 2.1 million metric tonnes, compared to the previously widely circulated figures of 3.4 million metric tonnes. The paper suggests that ‘data’ are themselves a product of agricultural policies."
to:NB  statistics  economics  political_economy  evidence_based  science_as_a_social_process  social_measurement  india  nigeria  malawi 
december 2015 by cshalizi
Psychosocial Interventions for Mental and Substance Use Disorders: A Framework for Establishing Evidence-Based Standards | The National Academies Press
"Mental health and substance use disorders affect approximately 20 percent of Americans and are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Although a wide range of evidence-based psychosocial interventions are currently in use, most consumers of mental health care find it difficult to know whether they are receiving high-quality care. Although the current evidence base for the effects of psychosocial interventions is sizable, subsequent steps in the process of bringing a psychosocial intervention into routine clinical care are less well defined. Psychosocial Interventions for Mental and Substance Use Disorders details the reasons for the gap between what is known to be effective and current practice and offers recommendations for how best to address this gap by applying a framework that can be used to establish standards for psychosocial interventions."
to:NB  books:noted  evidence_based  psychiatry  mental_illness  drugs 
september 2015 by cshalizi
The Truth About Chicago’s Crime Rates, Part 1 | Chicago magazine | May 2014
The last tag is of course the least of the issues here.
(And tempting as it is to say "what gets measured gets massaged", that seems like not just a counsel of despair, but an _unfounded_ counsel of despair.)
violence  chicago  crime  corruption  juking_the_stats  evidence_based  social_measurement  management  social_science_methodology  to_teach  have_read  bad_data_analysis  to:blog 
august 2014 by cshalizi
Drug-funding sob stories make for good reading, but we need hard evidence to set public policy
Mar. 16 2014 | The Globe and Mail | ANDRÉ PICARD.

the key question in public policy is always: What else could be done with the money that would provide more bang for the buck?

To fund or not fund drugs is not an easy discussion to have. But it is a necessary one. As compelling as the stories of suffering children may be, we have to make decisions based on evidence. We also owe it to ourselves to negotiate firmly with drug-makers.

We cannot continue to fall prey to emotional blackmail, no matter how much the headlines sting.
no_sob_stories  public_policy  André_Picard  pharmaceutical_industry  orphan_drugs  disease  opportunity_costs  evidence_based  emotional_blackmail  evidence  difficult_conversations 
march 2014 by jerryking
When Experimentalist Governance Meets Science-Based Regulations; the Case of Food Safety Regulations by Susanne Wengle :: SSRN
"This paper presents a detailed examination of a central regulatory mechanism and of the politics of regulation shaping food economies. Food safety regulations in the US rely on a science-based regulatory system known as HACCP, which bears central features of what Charles Sabel and Jonathan Zeitlin have identified as experimentalist governance. Theoretically, the paper examines what the reliance on science means for the promise of an experimentalist policy regime to enable a new form of politics. Based on interviews with meat producers and USDA regulators, I found that HACCP’s reliance on a particular scientific system acts as an effective divider between producers who can interpret and produce this kind of science, and others, for whom this is challenging. There is clear evidence that a significant number of small processors were unable to adapt to the regulatory system’s requirements. In so far as the HACCP-based food safety regulations delineate the kind of producer that can viably exist in the system and contributed to the demise of another set of producers, the regulation has created an outcome.
"The politics of HACCP, then, revolve around these effects of the scientification of food safety regulations. I also show that some of the most salient political arguments surrounding food safety regulations are not addressed through the institutionalized channels of the regulatory system. This is the case, I argue, because they are not commensurable with the scientific system underlying HACCP – their merits cannot be evaluated with its units of measurement, nor with kind of data it produces. The combination of an experimentalist policy regime with a science-based regulatory system then, is something like a test case for experimentalism’s ability to learn from difference, to realize its democratic promise and to overcome the enduring dilemmas that arise at the nexus of science, regulation and politics. I conclude with the argument that if experimentalist policy arrangements rely on science-based regulation, special caution is warranted to recognize experiences and arguments backed by multiple systems of reasoning. These are arguably timely observations, as the Obama administration has embraced science-based regulatory arrangements with as much enthusiasm as Reagan once did."
to:NB  regulation  evidence_based  political_science  via:henry_farrell 
november 2013 by cshalizi
Evidence-based Genealogy vs. Conclusion-based Genealogy | Tim Forsythe
Conclusion-based genealogists (CBGs), which make up the bulk, take a different approach. They gather all their sources together over a period of time, and when they feel comfortable with making a conclusion based on the sum of their data, they will enter only those claims....
database  family  genealogy  evidence_based  conclusion_based 
april 2013 by oog
To Improve Public Policy
"The impact of scientific discoveries has never been greater, but the ability of science to affect public policy, at least in the United States, is foundering. Which raises the question, how can science and scientists better inform public policy? Nancy Cartwright and Jeremy Hardie's Evidence-Based Policy: A Practical Guide to Doing It Better and Charles Manski's Public Policy in an Uncertain World: Analysis and Decisions attempt to answer this question. Consistent with their internal logic, they succeed and fall short to different degrees and for different reasons. Setting aside, for the moment, the much deeper, more troubling, and in these works largely unasked question of whether policy-makers and citizens actually want science to inform policy, it is worth examining each book from the perspectives of both academia and applied policy..."
book_reviews  public_policy  economic_policy  social_science_methodology  evidence_based  track_down_references  manski.charles_f.  cartwright.nancy 
april 2013 by cshalizi
Making Sense of Ambiguous Evidence
September 2008 | HBR | A Conversation with Documentary Filmmaker Errol Morris.

The information that top managers receive is rarely unfiltered. Unpopular opinions are censored. Partisan views are veiled as objective arguments. Honest mistakes are made. The manager is then left to sort it all out and come to a wise conclusion.

Few people know how to get an accurate read on a situation like documentarian Errol Morris. He is the award-winning director of such films as The Thin Blue Line and this year’s Standard Operating Procedure, an exploration of the elusive truth behind the infamous photographs taken at Abu Ghraib prison. The Guardian has ranked him among the world’s top 10 directors, crediting him with “a forensic mind” and “a painter’s eye.”

In this article, Morris talks with HBR’s Lisa Burrell about how he sorts through ambiguous evidence and contradictory views to arrive at the real story. “I don’t believe in the postmodern notion that there are different kinds of truth,” he says. “There is one objective reality, period.” Getting to it requires keeping your mind open to all kinds of evidence—not just the parts that fit with your first impressions or developing opinions—and, often, far more investigation than one would think.

If finding the truth is a matter of perseverance, convincing people of it is something of an art, one with which Morris has had much experience not only as a documentarian but also as a highly sought-after director of TV ads for companies like Apple, Citibank, Adidas, and Toyota. He holds up John Kerry’s 2004 bid for the U.S. presidency as a cautionary tale: Kerry struck voters as inauthentic when he emphasized only his military service and failed to account for his subsequent war protest. Morris would have liked to interview him speaking in his own words—natural, unscripted material—so that his humanity, which seemed to get lost in the campaign, could emerge.
anecdotal  HBR  executive_management  CEOs  contradictions  information  information_flows  evidence_based  objective_reality  information_gaps  authenticity  sense-making  ambiguities  uncertainty  persuasion  forensics  postmodern  filmmakers  documentaries  judgment  cautionary_tales 
august 2012 by jerryking

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