Lecture by Jeroen van der Sluijs: Responsible Evidence Appraisal

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 explores the problems with the use and abuse of evidence for governance and will sketch pathways to more responsible practices of evidence appraisal and use.

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Jeroen P. van der Sluijs is professor in Theory of Science & Ethics of the Natural Sciences at the University of Bergen and associate professor in new and emerging risks at Utrecht University. His research focusses on scientific controversy on environmental and health risks in situations where scientific assessment is used as a basis for policymaking before conclusive scientific evidence is available on the causal relationships, the magnitude, and the probabilities of these risks. His work seeks to understand and improve the science-policy interface in a context of deep uncertainty by contributing and applying deliberative methods and tools for knowledge quality assessment. He has been working on contested science in the fields of climate change, pollinator decline, fish stock assessments, endocrine disruptors, electromagnetic fields, ultra fine particles and risk migration in sustainable technologies. Jeroen has published more than 70 articles in peer reviewed scientific journals and more than 25 book chapters.