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Thomas D. Cook, Northwestern University

Evidence-Based Policy: What Is It and Why Should We Care? Thomas Cook, a professor of sociology, psychology, and education and social policy, holds the Joan and Sarepta Harrison Chair of Ethics at Northwestern University. Abstract: This talk evaluates ways of understanding “evidence-based public policy.” It describes a set of methods for identifying such policies that is broader than the currently fashionable random-assignment methods and that does not sacrifice any of the rigor associated with experiments. To be acceptable, we contend that any new methods for assessing what works have to meet one criterion: That the causal results they produce are usually quite similar to those from experiments on the same topic. The number of additional methods meeting this criterion is not large. However, they represent the empirically determined range of methods worth trusting for generating responsible public knowledge about what works.