By Céline Mavrot (Researcher at the KPM Center for Public Management of the University of Bern) and Fritz Sager (Professor of Political Science at the KPM Center for Public Management of the University of Bern).
This post was originally published on Discover Society on 6th June 2017.
Against the backdrop of the current US-American presidency, the Brexit referendum campaign and the decision of the Hungarian government to drive its university of highest repute – the Central European University – out of the country, the fake news epidemic and the related question of the relationship between scientific evidence and democracy are all over the academic agenda. Scientific evidence generally is expected to make policies more coherent: addressing the right target groups, increasing the efficiency of their implementation and increasing their effectiveness. In her recent blog on the subject, Caroline Schlaufer goes beyond this functionalist view of scientific evidence and argues that the use of scientific evidence has also been found to improve democratic debates: Evidence-based arguments make democratic campaigns more rational. Informed citizens are reluctant to attack opponents on a personal basis which increases the deliberative quality of the discourse. However, this is not all. As we argue in our recent article in Policy & Politics, the use of evidence can encourage coherent policy formulation over different tiers in federal systems by creating vertical networks of expertise.