The Fluctuating Fortunes of ‘Evidence-Based Policy’
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Over the past decade, there have been regular media stories in which scientists are depicted either as embattled critics of politicians or as out-of-touch individuals whom politicians might be well advised to ignore. A classic example of this, encapsulating both characterisations, was the media coverage of the UK government’s decision to sack a scientist, Professor David Nutt, from its Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). This decision followed the publication of an article by Nutt in Guardian newspaper, in which he challenged the government’s decision to reclassify cannabis to a higher (more harmful) category (for more a more detailed account of the affair, see Henderson 2012; Monaghan 2011). A media storm quickly ensued with a Guardian editorial accusing the responsible minister, Alan Johnson, of lacking ‘the strength of character to listen to people who tell him difficult truths’ (The Guardian (Editorial) 2009), while a subsequent Daily Mail commentary dismissed Nutt as ‘barmy’ and ‘dangerous’ (Glover 2010).
KeywordsPolicy Change Knowledge Translation Public Health Research Rational Choice Theory Policy Network
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