I am in the process of interviewing Professor Tim Flannery by email, for an article in Earth Garden magazine. The result of our conversation should appear in the August, 2018 issue.
Tim Flannery is one of the heroes of the Australian, and even global, climate change action movement. His has been one of the most effective voices for rational reliance on science, for engaging in vigorous, positive action based on evidence.
One concept he is keen on is the “citizens’ jury” as a means for establishing public policy, including for matters such as taxation; generally for the matters politicians argue over, at least when they are doing their job rather than knifing each other.
Not being familiar with the concept, I looked it up Wikipedia, and found a 2002 scientific review of the process by Tom Wakeford.
“Like a legal jury, the cornerstone of a citizens’ jury is the belief that once a small sample of a population have heard the evidence, their subsequent deliberations can fairly represent the conscience and intelligence of the community. This age-old reasoning contrasts with today’s most common quantitative and qualitative methods for representing the public’s views: the opinion poll and the focus group.”
As with a jury in a criminal trial, you select a random group of people, e.g., from an electoral roll. They cross-examine expert witnesses presenting all sides of an issue, and attempt to reach a decision. Typically, they need not reach unanimity, but are expected to generate wise guide for action.
In an opinion poll or focus group, you find out what people believe. In contrast, the essence of the jury is for this group to find out what the facts are, by thoughtfully considering the opinions of experts, and other relevant evidence.
Would this work? Well, we’ve been entrusting such small groups of people with life and death matters on an individual basis. Why should matters of policy be different?
I’m interested in your opinion on the matter.