Pearl Dykstra on knowledge-driven advice for policy and politics

On June 27, the ROB (Raad van het Openbaar Bestuur) essay collection ‘Science and Public Policy’ was presented to Vera Bergkamp, President of the House of Representatives. PDPC initiator Pearl Dykstra wrote chapter 8.

The editors of the essay collection write: ‘Pearl Dykstra discusses in chapter 8 knowledge-driven advice as a necessary condition for the democratic functioning of our society. A solid foundation of scientific knowledge is needed to understand the roots of complex social problems and find solutions to them. Scientific knowledge is not the only legitimate ground on which we make political and policy decisions. However, it has a special place because of the analytical, rigorous and verifiable methods that follow.

Knowledge-enhanced advice is of greater importance than ever, now that scientific uncertainty is regularly exploited to sow social distrust or to pursue short-sighted political agendas that ignore scientific insights. Knowledge-driven advice should be transparent and impartial. Ultimately, the fundamental role of science as a basis for politics and policy is also a value judgment. Crucially, the scientific approach is designed to limit the influence of values (or to recognize and mitigate them). Dykstra concludes by discussing the great importance that a lack of consensus among scientists has for policy and politics. Scientists’ dissensus can indicate that a problem is more severe than previously assumed.’