Jim Manzi on Science, Knowledge and Freedom

Discussion with Jim Manzi hosted by Prof. Harvey Mansfield, Program on Constitutional Government at Harvard University, 30 November 2012.

How do we know which social and economic policies work, which should be continued, and which should be changed? Jim Manzi argues that throughout history, various methods have been attempted—except for controlled experimentation. Experiments provide the feedback loop that allows, in certain limited ways, to identify errors in our beliefs as a first step to correcting them. Manzi argues for methods that could be effective in addressing the important social issues, from improving schools to increasing economic growth to reducing crime. Drawing on his vast experience and a systematic review of thousands of randomized social and business experiments, he provides evidence that most ideas for improving schools, government and other complex human institutions don’t work, and identifies programs that do.

Jim Manzi founded a global software company, Applied Predictive Technologies, that pioneered the development of experimental methods now used by dozens of the world’s largest corporations to set prices, pick new products, and identify and market to customers. He is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor at National Review. He holds an SB in mathematics from MIT and was a Dean’s Fellow at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.