It is not a minor matter that those of us at the forefront of thinking about, developing, and promoting risk-benefit assessment have been particularly attentive to language, to the meaning of words and the order in which they are placed. Thus we have taken HAZARD’s hand, twirled it round a bit, and shown its positive, sunny side. Similarly, we have suggested to CONTROL MEASURES that it should stand in the corner, reflect upon its past errors, and not rejoin us until it has developed a more sophisticated, nuanced approach to its purposes. And we have welcomed, and made permanent guest of honour, BENEFITS. She sits at the head of the table, gets served first and, so to speak, frames the rest of the proceedings.
This is not about risk-benefit assessment
But this piece is not about risk-benefit assessment. It’s about the importance of saying certain things, of not losing one’s voice, of holding fast to key ideas and values, even when they seem to have no immediate purchase.
The evidential hunt
I make no complaint that once again ‘play’ is on the evidential hunt, apparently to demonstrate to Government just how functional it is in helping to meet the objectives of, for example, improving school performance, enlivening the public realm, contributing to community safety, countering ‘anti-social behaviour’ (in quotes because it is a despicable too wide-ranging term that should be avoided), and preparing children to be economically productive when they enter adulthood. And no doubt much else.