The sinister side of public policy.


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On 1st November, following the sacking of Prof David Nutt, Ryan O’Meara, Editor-in-Chief of K9 Magazine, published the podcast below exploring evidence based policy.

He brings parallel arguments from his personal area of expertise and from the consequences of the inept and archaic Dangerous Dogs Act, an issue about which K9, DDA Watch and countless other organisations have mounted campaigns against, and an issue I’ve highlighted on this blog previously. O’Meara also queries whether the principles of Darwinian selection can be applied to thought, a line of reasoning which is perhaps not far removed from meme theory.

The lack of evidence and evidential quality involved in the policies O’Meara cites, is striking.

It is appalling, for instance, that an individual with no more than a few hours’ training can provide expert testimony in court alleging that a dog possesses the characteristics of a banned breed (and therefore apparently poses a danger and should be destroyed), despite the dog doing nothing wrong and potentially being of a completely different, ‘permitted’ breed.

It is then truly inexcusable when such testimony is accepted by a court without question.

This illogical, crass and ultimately cowardly decision making bears sinister similarity to the involvement of racial profiling in policing, an issue about which there has been great public discussion and political hesitancy. Certainly, considerable caution is used in exercising any type of racial profiling in the proactive identification and investigation of crime, yet the Dangerous Dogs Act, almost devoid of practical regulation, permits decisions of life and death to be made on exactly this basis.

With Prof. David Nutt being sacked for daring to question knowledge he believed to be unsubstantiated, the issue of the use (and abuse) of evidence in public policy is once again exposed for widespread public examination. Listening to any reasoned, considered commentary is certainly worthwhile and this is no exception.

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