The Federal Nudge Squad…

The federal government is hiring what it calls a “Behavioral Insights Team”  that will look for ways to subtly influence people’s behavior, according to a  document describing the program obtained by Critics warn there  could be unintended consequences to such policies, while supporters say the team  could make government and society more efficient.

While the program is still in its early stages, the document shows the White  House is already working on such projects with almost a dozen federal  departments and agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services  and the Department of Agriculture.

“Behavioral sciences can be used to help design public policies that work  better, cost less, and help people to achieve their goals,” reads the government  document describing the program, which goes on to call for applicants to apply  for positions on the team.

The document was emailed by Maya Shankar, a White House senior adviser on  social and behavioral sciences, to a university professor with the request that  it be distributed to people interested in joining the team. The idea is that the  team would “experiment” with various techniques, with the goal of tweaking  behavior so people do everything from saving more for retirement to saving more  in energy costs.

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There is a difference between advocating a behavior and nudging a person’s behavior. I like the first and abhor the second. To me the issue is about respecting the individual. Federal nudging does not do that.

I believe that Reasonable Citizens are rational actors capable of determining what is in their best interest. Attempts to influence their behavior is unacceptable. Efforts to provide valid infornation to establish a basis for decisions is acceptable.

Tell me what I ought to know to make a decision but don’t tell me only what you think I should know to act the way you want.

You can imagine how unsuccessful nudging will be dealt with: More money to nudge, more power to nudge, and more damn nudging over all.

This government is full of lesser men, don’t nudge me.



Author: Reasonable Citizen

Reserved, inquisitive, looks before leaping,

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