@gilliantett frames her latest essay via Soft-Core Authoritarian Cass Sunstein. Political Skeptic comments.

Headline: The US needs a little nudge theory to boost its jab campaign

Sub-headline: Biden’s administration wants not medical, management or data science, but social science instead

Cass Sunstein, a leading behavioural scientist who helped to popularise the concept of the “nudge”, a policy technique that steers people towards certain actions, has written that Biden’s plan to embrace evidence-based policymaking incorporates “an explicit endorsement of behavioural science — and it calls for much more of it”. Sunstein himself has been hired by the Department of Homeland Security.


Because Mr. Sunstein is the founder of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy at Harvard Law School, this does not confer the honorific of ‘a leading behavioral scientist’ upon him.

Here is the web site of Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy


Sunstein is part of a faculty that are listed as lawyers, not behavioral scientist! I checked, all were lawyers, except for the designation of ‘Clinical Professor of Law’? 138 faculty of this Program, not one behavioral scientist! Ms. Tett is usually a more careful reporter! All this to comment upon ‘to boost its jab campaign’ !

Here are Mr. Sunstein areas of academic responsibilities at Harvard , he is now on leave:

Cass R. Sunstein is currently the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard. He is the founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy at Harvard Law School. In 2018, he received the Holberg Prize from the government of Norway, sometimes described as the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for law and the humanities. In 2020, the World Health Organization appointed him as Chair of its technical advisory group on Behavioural Insights and Sciences for Health. From 2009 to 2012, he was Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and after that, he served on the President’s Review Board on Intelligence and Communications Technologies and on the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Board. Mr. Sunstein has testified before congressional committees on many subjects, and he has advised officials at the United Nations, the European Commission, the World Bank, and many nations on issues of law and public policy. He serves as an adviser to the Behavioural Insights Team in the United Kingdom.


On his book ‘Nudge’ :

‘It’s All for Your Own Good’ by Jeremy Waldron of October 9, 2014 issue:

Mr. Waldron reviews two books:

Why Nudge? The Politics of Libertarian Paternalism by Cass R. Sunstein & Richard Thaler

Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas by Cass R. Sunstein

These two paragraphs, of the review, help the reader to understand the Sunstein/Thaler Soft-Core Authoritarianism:

Nudging is about the self-conscious design of choice architecture. Put a certain choice architecture together with a certain heuristic and you will get a certain outcome. That’s the basic equation. So, if you want a person to reach a desirable outcome and you can’t change the heuristic she’s following, then you have to meddle with the choice architecture, setting up one that when matched with the given heuristic delivers the desirable outcome. That’s what we do when we nudge.

All of this sounds like a marketer’s dream, and I will say something about its abusive possibilities later. But Sunstein and Thaler have in mind that governments might do this in a way that promotes the interests of their citizens. Governments might also encourage businesses and employers to use it in the interests of their customers and employees. The result would be a sort of soft paternalism: paternalism without the constraint; a nudge rather than a shove; doing for people what they would do for themselves if they had more time or greater ability to pick out the better choice.

Political Skeptic


 In reply to critical mass

Let me say that Ms. Tett’s ‘A debt to history?’ is one of the most important examples of journalism to appear in this newspaper! Read it again. I used it many times during the Greek Crisis to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the Germans.   


In reply to everyday paper

I read Mr. Harford’s essay and found it awash in the manufactured Russophobia allied to Putin hysterical paranoia. The ‘as if’ is that the American National Security State hasn’t been busy, since the First Cold War, with ‘Radio Free Europe’ and ‘Radio Liberty‘ , NATO and the ubiquitous, and a unceasing war against any manifestation of ‘The Left’, or even ‘Moderate Reform’. An example, the Iranian Coup of 1953! And its ‘blowback’ in the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

Sunstein & Thaler are Soft-Core Authoritarians! ‘We’ need to be Managed by benevolent Masters? Kant offered, in the 18th Century, his self-emancipation from tutelage. Yet the ‘experts’, favored by Walter Lippmann, now morphed into Think Tank Technocrats, in there propaganda guise, pioneered by Edward Bernays: offer not a faith in the American Experiment, and its expressions of faith in the good will, of committed civic actors, who view each other as equal partners in the flourishing of ‘our’ shared endeavor!



About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to @gilliantett frames her latest essay via Soft-Core Authoritarian Cass Sunstein. Political Skeptic comments.

  1. Pingback: Thatcherite @rcolvile loses his ‘faith in the state’? | StephenKMackSD's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.