By Jon

Today we launch Bad Culture.

As our About page says, it’s a blog about cultural policy, the value of culture and cultural investment, written by four people with shared interests but different perspectives.

These are big and broad topics. But thanks to the heavy lifting done by Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science and Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy (among others) to spread the ‘Bad’ meme, the title should give some idea of where we’re going.

We’re going to write about the arguments used in cultural policy discussions, and the data and analysis that go with them. This is still a wide remit, so over the next couple of weeks each of us will be writing some thoughts on what ‘Bad Culture’ is about.

For me, examples of what others have written serve that purpose best.

Take Eleanora Belfiore’s essay about the disregard for truth in cultural policy debates. Drawing on the work of philosopher Harry Frankfurt, she illustrates what she sees as a prevalence of bullshit in various policy documents. The results are highly entertaining and, an example of where I hope Bad Culture will venture.

Or take John Kay’s criticism of economic impact assessments and what he sees as weaknesses in the evidence base being presented to him.

Or take Ben Eltham on the problems with piracy statistics that are being used to justify legislation and legal action.

Or finally, when in his book ‘Good and Plenty‘, Tyler Cowen asked why public funds spent on cultural provision are not better spent providing healthcare for Haitian children, he is highlighting that some arguments in favour of public subsidy for the arts are not actually very good. 

And therin lies the point. In all walks of life, some arguments are well-developed and well-evidenced, and some are not.

When the arguments in question relate to cultural policy, it’s the role of Bad Culture to try and work out the difference.

We hope you enjoy the blog.