Shouldn’t policy be based on evidence – not the other way around?

The future seems rosy for Jeremy Hunt. In his newest letter to social media firms, he envisions a future where every child gets a state-imposed and universal social media limit, similar to the alcohol units recommended by government. After a child surpasses a set cutoff point, their social media access is stopped for the day. Hunt makes it seem easy, practical, and better for children and parents alike.

There is just one glaring problem. This drastic policy still needs the scientific evidence to back it up. Hunt announced yesterday that his chief medical officer will be taking charge of this. Well, as a scientist working in this area, I can tell Dame Sally Davies now: the evidence this policy needs doesn’t exist. If she is not willing to ignore large parts of the scientific literature or exaggerate a minority of low-quality studies, her job to find the amount of “science” to back up such significant state intervention will be impossible. And, to insert an important side-question, shouldn’t policy be based on evidence – not the other way around?

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