Confronting Model Uncertainty in Policy Analysis for Complex Systems

What Policymakers Should Demand

Published in: Journal on Policy and Complex Systems, Volume 5, Number 2, pages 181–201 (Fall 2019). doi: 10.18278/jpcs.5.2.11

Posted on RAND.org on February 11, 2020

by Paul K. Davis, Steven W. Popper

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Good policy analysis needs to improve in routinely addressing not only uncertainty about model inputs to the model used, but also uncertainty about the model itself and disagreements about perspective affecting the model. This is especially true when analyzing complex systems. Progress will depend on analysts and modelers understanding how to proceed and, significantly, on policymakers demanding that they do so. Methods for doing so now exist, but culture changes will be necessary. In the future, analysis that fails to address uncertainties about both models and their inputs may come to be regarded as fatally flawed.

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