Policy-based evidence-making: an example

The “unit cohesion” theory raises its ugly head once again.

Rob MacCoun offers an instance of the policy-based evidence-making denounced in this space yesterday. The latest offender is an Army War College study which uses social-scientific-sounding incantations to try to raise the old “unit cohesion” idea from the graveyard of discarded ideas, but produces only a zombie theory, erect and moving but undead rather than truly alive.

The policy in defense of which this evidence was constructed is, of course, the ban on gays in the military. I have it on good authority that while the Pentagon brass still likes “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” junior officers in the field have no time for it. Apparently it’s not being paid much heed in Iraq; no one there thinks we have soldiers to spare.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com