The rapid increase in the use of evidence to legitimise decisions reflects a pervasive idea that more science equals better policies. Often, decision makers become mired in contested evidence, beset by uncertainties and contradictions. In critical challenges, whether climate change, global pollinator collapse, or migration, science is expected to provide conclusive facts and is often used instrumentally to suppress disputes.
The concept of evidence is in flux and increasingly subjected to fundamental questions about its nature, quality and functions. Meanwhile, emerging modes of evidence production add to
controversies on what counts as valid evidence. The relation between governance and the underlying evidence has itself become problematic, reflecting ongoing changes in knowledge production and use.
This lecture will explore the problems with the use and abuse of evidence for governance and will sketch pathways to more responsible practices of evidence appraisal and use.