Trump and “alternative facts” vs evidence based policy

Feb 17
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The first few weeks of the Trump presidency have marked a dramatic change in direction for the American government and have unfortunately signaled alarming developments for evidence based policy.

Trump has ordered a media blackout at the Environmental Protection Agency and barred staff from awarding any new contracts or grants. The administration is also mandating that any studies or data from scientists at the EPA undergo review by political appointees before they can be released to the public.

Communications director for Trump’s EPA transition team, Doug Ericksen has said they are looking into “whether climate stuff will be taken down” from the website. Meanwhile, Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway recently gained notoriety for saying that the administration was simply drawing on “alternative facts” to back government positions.

Evidence in a post-truth world

It is a sad indictment of the times that the Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year 2016 was “post –truth,” defined as:

“Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.

Evidence-based policy means certainty, it involves sourcing and evaluating data and evidence. How can evidence based policy be formed in a world of “alternative facts?”

In the age of Trump, government policy based on incontrovertible findings and statistics is more vital than ever. The Strengthening Evidence Based Policy conference, taking place in Canberra in May, will cover topics including:

  • Sourcing and utilising quantitative evidence
  • Working through an evaluation lifecycle
  • Designing performance indicators
  • Communicating your evidence & policy effectively
  • Co-designing policy
  • Linking data sets
  • Developing staff capability to evidence

Book by 10 February to save on ticket prices.

Policy 2017

Submitted by Richard Jackson

Richard Jackson

Richard hails from Northern Ireland, he has a background in journalism, bringing a methodical research angle to his work. He is an avid reader and enjoys playing rugby and football – not soccer – he has been told he has an inflated opinion of his skills at both.

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