Politicians and lobbyists who promote new regulations and taxes often claim that the case for increased government intervention is supported by scientific evidence. Indeed, ‘evidence-based policy’ has been central to the growth of the regulatory state.
This monograph exposes the deficiencies of this approach. Four policy areas are examined: minimum alcohol pricing, passive smoking, global warming and happiness. In each case, the use of scientific evidence is shown to be deeply flawed. The policymaking process is characterised by basic methodological errors, as well as self-interested behaviour by the experts involved. Academic and political elites 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.