Age of the Empirical
Policy Review, No. 137, June-July 2006
13 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2006
This brief essay argues that that the trend to empiricism in the social sciences is a long run force for consensus in a democratic society. Because of the continuing computer revolution, this trend will become only more powerful in the future. Thus, although many pundits suggest we live in an intensely partisan age, the essay suggests that powerful forces will restrain partisanship and constrain even interest groups to focus on what works to achieve broadly shared objectives, like economic prosperity and improved education. The essay offers some examples of how empiricism has helped foster consensus in the past. The essay discusses how the rise of blogs and information markets help reinforce a culture of empiricism. It ends with suggestions about how public policy can support empiricism and thus itself promote consensus.
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