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The Non-Evidence Based Policy of the Obama Administration

Samuel Staley
January 16, 2010, 8:38am

My colleague Lisa Snell recently exposed the hypocrisy of the Obama Administration's so-called "evidence based" public policy in education. I discussed earlier this week the retreat from using objective criteria to evaluate transit projects. Anthony Randazzo has been hammering on similiar problems with the bailouts and financial services regulation.

These and other policy decisions reinforces the main theme of my National Review article (31 December) called "Evidence-Based Pretense" arguing the impossibility of evidence-based policy in a politicized environment such as the stimulus program. I conclude my article:

"That is the nut of the problem. Social-scientific methods simply cannot provide the definitive answers progressives claim to seek or, worse, to have. At the end of the day, the data will be inconclusive. Policymakers will then have to make judgments, and these judgments will inevitably reflect ideology. The Obama administration is no exception, and its talk of “evidence-based public policy” is little more than a pretext for doing what it wants to do anyway."


Samuel Staley is Research Fellow


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