Understanding our Political Nature

19 July 2019

The UQCTP is glad to announce the publication of the Understanding our Political Nature: How to put knowledge and reason at the heart of political decision-making report. The report was commissioned by the European Commission Joint Research Centre to a panel of sixty international expert as part of the  Enlightenment 2.0 program, which aims to identify and understand the mechanisms underlying political decision-making in contemporary society. UQCTP Curriculum and Pedagogy Director, Dr Peter Ellerton, contributed to the report as one of the selected experts. 

The panel agreed on seven key findings. 

1. Misperception and Disinformation: Our thinking skills are challenged by today's information environment and make us vulnerable to disinformation. We need to think more about how we think.

2. Collective Intelligence: Science can help us re-design the way policymakers work together to take better decisions and prevent policy mistakes.

3. Emotions: We can't separate emotion from reason. Better information about citizens' emotions and greater emotional literacy could improve policymaking.

4. Values and Identities: Values and identities drive political behaviour but are not properly understood or debated.

5. Framing, Metaphor and Narrative: Facts don't speak for themselves. Framing, metaphors and narratives need to be used responsibly if evidence is to be heard and understood.

6. Trust and Openness: The erosion of trust in experts and in government can only be addressed by greater honesty and public deliberation about interests and values.

7. Evidence-informed policymaking: The principle that policy should be informed by evidence is under attack. Politicians, scientists and civil society need to defend this cornerstone of liberal democracy.

Imprtantly, all of the above findings highlight the importance of critical thinking, metacognitive self-evaluation, and analytical reasoning in decision making as well as in the assessment of the information basis by which it is motivated. 

The full report can be dowloaded here