evidence based policy

one thing that keeps me motivated, something more than anything, is the proof that as policy changes, attitudes and belief systems can and do also change. smoking indoors used to be completely normal and mundane - you could smoke on the bus, in cafés, on the train, and no one would even question it. some people would even say it was good for you! now, thanks to public health awareness, appropriate campaigning and implementation of policy (in the form of a ban), most have realised the detrimental effects on not only the smokers themselves but the other people around them. the majority of people would now be horrified by the mere idea of smoking indoors. thanks to evidence-based policy, mindsets have been questioned, acted against and completely reshaped. 

the passing of the nordic model in the republic of ireland today has made me cautiously optimistic about attitudes towards prostitution and the commodification of women’s bodies under capitalism. if we ban men from buying sex, they will slowly begin to realise why. and as men’s attitudes towards women and sex are shaped by society at large, rather than being biologically ‘fixed’ and innate, as policy changes, so will they. as society changes, so will they.

Keluar dari Ruang Belajar

Sebagai mahasiswa jurusan kimia seperti saya, yang ilmunya, pada banyak kesempatan, membahas hal-hal yang abstrak dan paling banter membahas sesuatu yang bisa dikerjakan di laboratorium, saya punya satu kesenangan yang aneh, yaitu berkumpul dengan mahasiswa-mahasiswi dari rumpun ilmu-ilmu sosial, mengobrol dan berdiskusi soal keadaan kekinian Indonesia, membahas kebijakan dalam dan luar negeri Indonesia, serta fenomena sosial yang terjadi di masyarakat.

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Penampakan sehari-hari di laboraturium saat mengerjakan proyek tesis master di The University of Manchester. (dok.pribadi)

Jika Anda melihat CV saya, kemungkinan besar Anda akan mengira saya adalah seorang pencinta kimia sejati yang waktu luangnya dihabiskan membaca jurnal atau nonton video TED Talks saja—sehingga tidak mungkin akan menunjukkan batang hidung saya di forum-forum yang membahas kebijakan publik dan ideologi politik.

Saya tidak bisa mengelak bahwa saya sangat suka belajar mengenai alam, seperti tentang bagaimana bahan bakar terbentuk, bagaimana bahan bakar bisa menghasilkan energi, bagaimana energi bisa berubah wujud, bagaimana perubahan iklim bisa terjadi, bagaimana proses penjernihan air, bagaimana kita bisa memanen energi dari matahari, dan sebagainya. Saya juga tidak bisa mengelak bahwa saya juga senang membahas ideologi, evident-based policy making, cara kerja media massa, keberpihakan politik pada rakyat kecil, dan sebagainya. Tidak ada yang salah bukan?

Saya melihat bahwa pada akhirnya orang-orang dari rumpun ilmu-ilmu alam dan teknologi butuh orang-orang dari rumpun ilmu-ilmu sosial, juga sebaliknya. Karena, pada akhirnya, kebermanfaatan ilmu alam dan teknologi secara luas harus didukung oleh elemen-elemen sosial dan political will pemerintah. Lihat saja bagaimana polemik perkembangan industri kedirgantaraan di Indonesia. Singkat cerita, industri ini dimulai dan dikembangkan karena political will pemerintah dan perkembangannya dihambat bahkan diakhiri juga atas political will pemerintah.

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Melihat kondisi saat ini, banyak riset di bidang ilmu alam dan teknologi yang sudah dan sedang dikerjakan pemuda-pemuda cemerlang harapan bangsa, seperti para awardee Beasiswa Pendidikan Indonesia LPDP, sangat sulit ditakar manfaatnya dalam waktu dekat. Kesulitan menakar manfaat waktu dekat ini memang harus dimaklumi, karena begitulah hakikat riset. Dia berada di garda terdepan ilmu pengetahuan. Sedangkan implementasinya baru bisa dirasakan bertahun-tahun kemudian. Apalagi jika para awardee banyak berkuliah di kampus-kampus terbaik di dunia di bidang sains dan teknologi yang lebih peduli kepada kemajuan ilmu pengetahuan, bukan implementasinya.

Sehingga, riset para mahasiswa master dan doktoral bidang sains dan teknologi di kampus-kampus terbaik dunia boleh jadi tidak relevan dengan kebutuhan negara dan investasi pada pendidikan kami tidak akan memberikan return apa-apa dalam waktu dekat. Kondisi ini membuat terkadang saya merasa ilmu saya tidak berguna di masyarakat. Buat apa saya mempelajari sesuatu yang belum tentu jadi dan masuk pasar?

Oleh karena itu, kesenangan berkumpul dan mendengar mahasiswa-mahasiswa ilmu sosial setengahnya bisa dikatakan setengahnya pelarian dari kondisi yang kurang mengenakkan di atas. Setengahnya lagi adalah karena setiap inovasi butuh dukungan negara untuk implementasinya.

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Saya baru memulai kesenangan ini saat saya masih di tingkat tiga S-1 jurusan ilmu kimia. Saya lebih banyak mendengar. Di awal, tentu ini bukan hal yang mudah. Butuh upaya ekstra bagi saya untuk membaca-baca sebelum berkumpul dan berdiskusi. Sesekali saya harus mencari tahu penjelasan-penjelasan dasar mengenai istilah-istilah ekonomi dan politik yang tidak saya mengerti. Keluar dari zona aman memang tidak mudah. Saya harus siap menjadi orang ‘bodoh’, menanyakan hal-hal yang mungkin sudah lazim diketahui.

Foto bersama selepas diskusi Lingkar Studi Cendekia (LSC) UK tentang ekonomi migas dan potensi energi terbarukan di Newcastle, saya paling kanan. (dok.pribadi)

Saat studi di tingkat master di Inggris, kesenangan ‘aneh’ ini malah mejadi hobi. Untuk kumpul-kumpul membahas isu buruh, ekonomi migas, dan isu-isu pembangunan, saya tidak ragu-ragu mengeluarkan uang beasiswa saya untuk membeli tiket kereta agar dapat sampai ke kota-kota lain di Britania Raya dimana diskusi diadakan.

Pengorbanan waktu dan biaya untuk mempelajari hal-hal yang sama sekali baru adalah harga yang pantas saya bayar sehingga akhirnya telinga saya sudah terbiasa dengan istilah-istilah ekonomi dan politik. Sayapun mulai bisa membangun argumen bila diajak berbicara soal ideologi politik dan keberpihakan pemerintah.

Sangat menarik menemukan bahwa setiap isu bisa jadi berbeda bila dilihat dari perspektif yang berbeda pula. Pandangan mahasiswa ekonomi akan berbeda dengan mahasiswa politik, begitu juga mahasiswa ekonomi dan politik dari saya seorang mahasiswa ilmu alam yang lebih banyak memikirkan hal-hal teknis. Tapi di sanalah terjadinya mutual understanding dan munculnya ide-ide solutif yang holistik. Dan memang sudah seharusnya ada lingkaran-lingkaran yang bisa mempertemukan orang-orang lintas disiplin ilmu untuk mengurai sebuah masalah yang kompleks dan kemudian mencoba mencari potensi-potensi solusi yang diambil dari berbagai aspek.

Karena pada dasarnya semua perspektif dihargai, saya pernah diminta berbagi pandangan mengenai isu-isu terkait implementasi inovasi. Teman-teman di komunitas Lingkar Studi Cendekia (LSC) UK meminta saya mengulas bagaimana teknologi berperan penting dalam kemajuan bangsa pada sebuah diskusi bulanan yang diadakan di Sheffield (lihat rekaman).

Diskusi Panel Bonus Demografi dalam Forum for Nusantara PPI Greater Manchester, saya paling kanan. (dok.PPI GM)

Puncak dari aktivisme ‘aneh’ ini adalah saat saya diminta mengisi diskusi panel mengenai bonus demografi yang diadakan oleh Perhimpunan Pelajar Indonesia (PPI) Greater Manchester. Kimia dan bonus demografi… dimana benang merahnya? Saya setengah tidak percaya. Tapi saya coba sebaik mungkin menyampaikan perspektif potensi percepatan kemajuan teknologi dari bonus demografi.

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Momen-momen dimana saya dianggap setara dengan pemateri lain yang memiliki latar belakang politik dan pembangunan masih berkesan di pikiran saya. Momen dimana saya bisa lantang menyampaikan bahwa Indonesia bisa menjadi negara yang maju bila menyicil upaya-upaya transfer teknologi. Momen-momen itu membuat saya semakin yakin bahwa saya berada di jalur yang benar. Momen-momen itu menyadarkan saya bahwa perlu ada sekian persen dari orang-orang yang mempelajari ilmu sains dan teknologi yang juga mengerti ilmu-ilmu sosial sehingga menjadi jembatan di antara dua rumpun ilmu yang masih sering dianggap tidak berhubungan.

Inovasi teknologi adalah kunci added value pada ekonomi. Yang punya ilmunya, orang ilmu alam. Yang mengerti mekanisme pasar… orang ekonomi. Yang memberi izin implementasi… eksekutif dan legislatif yaitu politisi. Maka dari itu…

…sudah sepantasnya setiap dari kita sesekali keluar dari ruang belajar kita masing-masing dan berkumpul bersama teman-teman dari rumpun ilmu tetangga.

Skipped my group’s long run today to join my fellow scientists in Chicago’s March for Science. I don’t like to get political on here, but I marched not only as someone whose work is supported by the National Science Foundation but also as a citizen who values excellence in education, scientific inquiry, and evidence based policies. Plus all the signs with science puns made it more than worth it.

Decriminialisation - A healthful approach to drug use rather than reactive moral panic

Amidst ferocious backlash, The Greens have this week pushed for the decriminalization of illegal drugs. They have cited the successful track record of countries such as Portugal who have implemented similar drug related policies. It’s safe to say the war on drugs has been lost. Australia boasts some of the leading illicit drug use statistics in the world. Drug seizure rates have doubled over the past decade. Cannabis use is the highest by world figures. The Australian government annually spends $1.7 billion on this war against its own civilians. This has certainly come at a high cost, when we measure more than economic loss. There is the acute social breakdown, loss of lives, dissent for authority, fear, untreated mental illness, and costly, ineffective, and archaic incarceration.

Zero tolerance laws treat drug use like crime rather than a public health issue. This is despite decades of research from mental health professionals suggesting the role of psychiatric health and addiction. Drug use disorders are featured in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders. The National Bureau of Economic Research indicates that “there is a definite connection between mental illness and the use of addictive substances”. If society wishes to begin treating mental illness in the same manner it treats physical illness, it is likewise to punishing a diabetic for his use of insulin. There is proposals of altered brainwave activity and dopamine levels, mental hierarchies, poor impulse control, and self medication that exists in the addict’s cerebral activity. Many mental health problems precede drug habits.

We have heard the predictable response from opponents. There are unfounded fears decriminalization will result in higher rates of drug use, crime, and violence. There are those who claim drug use will be ‘encouraged’ and ‘cultivated’ among society. There is no doubt drug education and public perception must continue focus heavily on the dangers and risk associated with drug use. But directing resources toward rehabilitation of those who are suffering addiction, and offering a safe place for those with drug problems to come forward without fear of prosecution is a much more holistic and socially considerate approach that supports those who are losing the combat in their own mind. Despite reactive statements that drug use will increase, statistics from Portugal indicate that the prevalence of usage has not altered with the change of law since 2001. The Greens policy will likely be unsuccessful until a time the government, and the Australian population in general is more prepared to utilize evidence based policies and become recovery focused rather than gearing up for battle with those who have already lost to their own war.

Written by Cherry amber

Of course scientists make mistaken claims all the time; the beauty of the scientific process is that when there is an open inquiry on important topics, mistakes are ultimately exposed and corrected, and a scientific consensus is achieved. The belief in that self-correcting scientific process underlies the hope for evidence-based policy. That hope may be misplaced when the scientific process is entwined with the process of political advocacy, where findings are in effect evaluated by whose purposes are served.
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Philip J. Cook (2013)

thevelez  asked:

Are there people in Canada that deny science like there are in the USA?

Yes. We had a climate denying government in power for the past 9 years. There are many right wing people in this country who don’t believe in evolution or climate change.

We had a science minister who didn’t believe in evolution

Is Canada’s Science Minister a creationist?

Many members of parliament and government ministers were in denial about climate change:

Stephen Harper’s climate change deniers

Thankfully the Conservatives are out of power now. The Liberals are more in touch with science & evidence based policy (though I don’t really trust them that much either).

anonymous asked:

"Far to the left of anything Clinton proposes". This is your mind on Marxism kids, not even once. Apparently stronger gun control, universal health care, Planned Parenting funding, Securing Paid Family/Medical leave, debt free college, Immigration reform (Clinton has said privately she supports open borders), LGBT+ rights, , increasing the minimum wage, universal pre-school. Oops, "capitalism". I forgot. Evidence-based policy is evil, she needs to read redflag the scoundrel to know the true way.

What a joke. If you want evidence about the policies of the Democrats in action you only have to look at the real world.

Obama was elected on the basis of comprehensive immigration reform. In reality, the Obama Administration has deported over 2 million people - more than every other President during the 20th century combined - and I should celebrate the fact that Clinton privately said she supports open borders?!

Her campaign staff also privately discussed how she can be seen to support increases in the minimum wage without specifying a number and without supporting the actual union campaign that is being waged for a $15 minimum wage. Because, y’know, they then she might actually be held accountable. Not to mention her entire history on the board of Walmart, which has consistency fought attempts at unionisation.

Obamacare, far from being universal publicly funded healthcare, is a neoliberal policy which has forced people to buy private health insurance by making them chose between rising insurance premiums or a tax penalty. And I’ll leave it to Clinton herself to describe her role in in supporting Bill Clinton’s 1996 welfare reform, which was designed to “end welfare as we know it” -

“I agreed that he should sign [the Act] and worked hard to round up votes for its passage – though he and the legislation were roundly criticised by some liberals, advocacy groups for immigrants and most people who worked with the welfare system.”

And Planned Parenthood has received federal funding since Nixon (yes, Nixon) amended the Public Health Service Act in 1970.

Because the point of that article (which you might have picked up on if you weren’t so blinded by your love for the Democrats) is that history shows you’re able to win more progressive reforms under a Republican Administration with fighting labour and social movements than a Democrat Administration without them.

Any progressive reforms the Democrats have implemented, of which a few do exist, haven’t happened because they actually care about progressive issues but because people fought the Democrats to demand them.