No. 10 Behaviour Unit Founder Slams Government for Using Nudge Theory “Inappropriately”

The co-founder of the Behavioural Insights Team – AKA the “Nudge Unit”, responsible for changing public behaviour via behavioural science and psychology – has today published an extraordinary op-ed slamming the government for abusing his team’s work during the pandemic, and “willingly convey[ing]” fear on the public to such an extent that it verged on “state propaganda”. Writing in UnHerd this morning, Simon Ruda doesn’t hold back:

“In my mind, the most egregious and far-reaching mistake made in responding to the pandemic has been the level of fear willingly conveyed on the public. Initially encouraged to boost public compliance, that fear seems to have subsequently driven policy decisions in a worrying feedback loop…

“Nudging made subtle state influence palatable, but mixed with a state of emergency, have we inadvertently sanctioned state propaganda?

Behavioural science in policy can help us improve people’s lives, but we shouldn’t become complacent… to the potential for unintended harm”

Ruda still has plenty of good to say of the Nudge Unit, although he adds that “focusing on “the science” [was] blinkered” during the pandemic. “We shouldn’t become complacent”, he says…

 

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