Evidence vs democracy

2020-02-26 connect evidence-informed decision-making learns publication

This report sets out the case for how mini-publics can help democracy connect with evidence. It is based on a review of the literature on mini-publics by Stephen Elstub and colleagues , and examines eight case studies, mostly from Europe. We reference these cases throughout the report, and they can be read in full in Evidence use in mini-publics: eight case studies.

Our focus is primarily on social policy, but we also cover practical lessons from other areas – such as electoral reform in Canada, or planning for SARS or avian flu in Australia. The core message is optimistic. It shows how the doom-mongers of democracy are wrong, and that voters can make informed decisions. The ‘uneducated’ electorate has always been a concern since the dawn of universal suffrage, from J.S. Mill who recommended giving extra votes to citizens with university degrees, to present-day political scientists like Jason Brennan, author of Against Democracy, who argues in favour of an ‘epistocracy’ – or ‘rule of the knowers’.