Quack policy : abusing science in the cause of paternalism / Jamie Whyte.

Whyte, Jamie [Browse]
  • London, England : Institute of Economic Affairs, 2013.
  • ©2013
145 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm.


Hobart paper ; 173. [More in this series]
Summary note
Noting that politicians and lobbyists who promote new regulations and taxes often claim that the case for increased government intervention is supported by scientific evidence, this work sets out to expose the deficiencies in such an approach by examining four areas of policy: minimum alcohol pricing, passive smoking, global warming, and happiness. In each case, the use of scientific evidence is shown to be deeply flawed and the policymaking process is characterized by basic methodological errors, as well as self-interested behavior by the experts involved. This study also makes note of academic and political elites who also use such policies to impose their own values on society as a whole, demonstrating contempt for the preferences of the general public. The author concludes that much evidence-based policy is grounded on poor scientific reasoning and very poor economics.
Bibliographic references
Includes bibliographical references (pages 143-145).
  • 1.Introduction
  • 2.The price of alcohol
  • Ignoring substitution effects
  • A digression on the patina of mathematical rigour
  • Ignoring costs
  • External costs
  • 3.Passive smoking
  • Testing the hypothesis that passive smoking causes cancer
  • Good science is bad science
  • A relatively large ant is still small
  • Voluntary passive smoking
  • Bigotry-based policy
  • 4.Global warming
  • AGW and Pigouvian taxes
  • Discounting calamity
  • Risk and uncertainty
  • The science is not settled
  • Uncertainty and climate policy
  • 5.Happiness engineering
  • Measuring happiness
  • The ONS measure is not empirically robust
  • Preferences and happiness
  • 6.Scientific authority
  • Reliability and degrees of belief
  • Deference and certification
  • Concealed doubt
  • Certification is not additional evidence
  • Expertise slippage
  • Scientists are interested parties
  • The issue in perfect miniature: Kahneman on anthropogenic global warming
  • 9780255366731 ((paperback))
  • 0255366736 ((paperback))
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