Apr 02, 2019
Dmitriy Ivanov

Moynihan Center to Host Program Highlighting Role of Evidence in Public Policy

The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to say, “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.” In this spirit of Sen. Moynihan, the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Center for Scholarship and Statesmanship at Assumption will present a daylong program dedicated to a discussion focusing upon Sen. Moynihan, evidence, and public policy. “But Not Your Own Facts” will be held on Friday, April 5, in the Auditorium of La Maison Francaise on the Assumption Campus, 500 Salisbury St., Worcester.  

According to Greg Weiner, Ph.D., associate professor of political science and director of the Center, the event will gather a group of scholars to discuss what role evidence should play in policy formation. In addition to 90-minute sessions dedicated to topics such as theories and cases; Moynihan and evidence; and studies and recollections, there will be a screening of the film Moynihan—produced and directed by Joseph Dorman and Tony Perl Freilich—and a keynote address by Christopher DeMuth, a Distinguished Fellow at Hudson Institute in Washington, DC, who worked with Sen. Moynihan in the White House during the Nixon presidency. 

The conference will discuss the following questions: To what extent should public policy be based on objective information collected by experts? And what are the limits of such an approach to public policy? On issues ranging from welfare to foreign policy, Sen. Moynihan was a champion of evaluating public policy based on what we know, but he also recognized that this approach has its limits. Through their presentations, panelists will explore how evidence is collected and used— and how both Professor and Senator Moynihan collected and used it—in an effort to clarify these and other questions.

“Senator Moynihan was not only a distinguished social scientist; he was also a sophisticated thinker of the uses and limits in public policy of evidence and data gathered from social science,” said Prof. Weiner. “At a time when political leaders on both sides accuse each other of distorting facts, we are grateful to this eminent group of scholars for joining us to discuss this important topic.”

The event schedule is as follows:

9 a.m. Opening remarks by Maura Moynihan (Daughter of Sen. Moynihan)
Auditorium, La Maison

9:15-10:45 a.m. “Theories and Cases”
Auditorium, La Maison

11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. “Moynihan and Evidence”
Auditorium, La Maison

1:30-3 p.m. “Studies and Recollections”
Auditorium, La Maison 

3:15 p.m. Moynihan screening
Kennedy Hall 112

5:15 p.m. “Welfare and Debt: A Moynihan Analysis” presented by Christopher DeMuth
Auditorium, La Maison

For more information and a list of panelists, visit the event page here. Each of the panel discussions, as well as the keynote speech, will be live-streamed on the Center’s website: https://www.assumption.edu/people-and-departments/organization-listing/moynihan-center