Thursday, 31 October 2013

Liverpool Care Pathway - Nudge, Nudge, Say No More...

The BIT Team back-room boys and girls are hard at work to reshape and remould public opinion.

This is the Bit Team
Over the past week or two there has been lots of coverage of a new team in the White House that will look to apply lessons from behavioural sciene to public policy. The US team will be headed by Maya Shankar, who met members of BIT in Washington to discuss how we will exchange ideas and share research – a process first started by our Director, Dr David Halpern, and Prof Cass Sunsein while Cass was at the White House.
On Friday, TIME Magazine ran an article looking in more detail at the successes we have had in the UK and overseas. The article features discussions with Professor Richard Thaler, who is on our advisory panel, BIT’s Deputy Director, Owain Service, and also Pelle Guldborg Hansen and Jesperson from iNudgeYou who have done some great work in Denmark.
We wish Maya much success and look forward to working closely with her and her team.
This is from the Time article –
When a White House adviser sent out an e-mail last month announcing that she was looking to hire social scientists to study human behavior and design public policy based on social experiments, right-wing critics were aghastBarack Obama was going too far again. 
The inspiration for Yale social scientist Maya Shankar’s team, she said in her note, is Britain. It’s in the Old World that the White House has gone looking for something new, calling a gang of consultants in the United Kingdom an inspiration. There, the so-called Behavioral Insights Team has taken a controversial philosophy and found solutions from lowering energy consumption to increasing tax collection. 
The squad was established a mere three years ago, following Prime Minister David Cameron’s ascension to power. Referred to in Whitehall patois as the nudge unit, the team was inspired by the 2009 bestselling book, Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness by University of Chicago professor Richard Thaler and Harvard Law professor Cass Sunstein. Cameron’s political mandate was simple: influence British policies by constructing cheap, shrewd and local solutions to social problems across governmental agencies. 
The nudge unit appears to have succeeded where one of its inspirations could not. During the first three years of the Obama administration, Sunstein led the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs where he was charged with approving every new regulation the government issued based on cost-benefit analysis. Sunstein has written that his efforts were hamstrung by a political climate suspicious of his ideas. Last year several important regulations were halted before the presidential election and Sunstein’s subsequent book, Simpler: The Future of Government describes the difficulty of new thinking into government. With an entire team to focus on streamlining costs and regulation across the government, the new team is aiming to improve on Sunstein’s record. 
Simple social experiments circumvented difficult-to-pass legislation, altered peoples’ behavior and saved money.
This is about changing minds and saving money...

Very interesting.
Bridgette [Bridgette madrian], an expert on pension defaults, is also now interested in whether unnecessary and unpleasant end of life over-treatment could be reduced by encouraging people to make advance directives at key junctions in life, e.g. at 65 when they become entitled to medicare in the USA
-   Bit Team.
This all sounds very familiar and very ominous...

At work on both sides of the Pond to advance an economic solution to...? 

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