Bioethics Blogs

Science Can Quantify Risks, But It Can’t Settle Policy

This NPR story by Tania Lombrozo captures a core message of the new multi-society guidelines on potentially inappropriate treatment.  And it does so with colorful accessible examples.

“Science can (and should) inform most policy decisions, but science, on its own, won’t settle policy.” Parties in a conflict often  “don’t disagree about the relative risks” instead they “weight the costs of different errors differently.”

“Recognizing that science can’t settle policy doesn’t open the floodgates to skepticism or radical relativism. It doesn’t mean we should give up on evidence-based policy, or that ‘anything goes.’ Instead, it invites us to recognize our values and subject them to scrutiny.  It’s not enough to have solid evidence; we also need solid values. And that requires careful science, but also careful thought.”

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.