The top 20 things scientists need to know about policy making

Amio Cajander
Amio Cajander

Ed note: The author of this article, Chris Tyler, is speaking on a panel about Science Advice in the context of opposing political/ideological positions at next month’s Auckland conference.

There are some common misunderstanding among scientists about how governments make their policy decisions. Here is a list of 20 things that I and my fellow science advisers at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology think scientists should know about policy.

  1. Making policy is really difficult
  2. No policy will ever be perfect
  3. Policy makers can be experts too
  4. Policy makers are not a homogenous group
  5. Policy makers are people too
  6. Policy decisions are subject to extensive scrutiny
  7. Starting policies from scratch is very rarely an option
  8. There is more to policy than scientific evidence
  9. Economics and law are top dogs in policy advice
  10. Public opinion matters
  11. Policy makers do understand uncertainty
  12. Parliament and government are different
  13. Policy and politics are not the same thing
  14. The UK has a brilliant science advisory system
  15. Policy and science operate on different timescales
  16. There is no such thing as a policy cycle
  17. The art of making policy is a developing science
  18. ‘Science policy’ isn’t a thing
  19. Policy makers aren’t interested in science per se
  20. ‘We need more research’ is the wrong answer

Read the full piece in The Guardian.