Technology, data, and the capital T Truth
"If we do the science right and we're really understanding what works, whether it's what we expect or not, it will be the truth... All we want to know is the truth." - Dan White
Facts, the final frontier.
We live in a weird time. While a major percentage of the world population carries access to the most sophisticated information technologies and scientific applications that have ever existed, we find ourselves constantly debating the truth. Terms like "facts" and "truth" have become battleground concepts for subjective experience, leaving both tension and confusion high. Yet the pursuit of the truth always has an ally in the scientific method and good academic research, a creed that drives Dan White, co-founder and CEO of The Behaviouralist.
Driven by a desire to bridge the gap between the cutting edge of science and its application in society, Dan White, along with leading and his co-founder Dr. Robert Metcalfe were responsible for some of the UK’s earliest applied behavioral economics research–-no easy feat. The roadblocks between good research and societal application are myriad, leaving much good research to sit on the shelf for years before benefiting society.
Yet in the spirit of being both creative and scientific, The Behaviouralist utilizes technology and data to bring a science-based voice to conversations with governments and organizations worldwide. And when tackling some of the world's most pressing issues, it isn't enough to get the message through. We must get it through quickly. Dan White discusses his process in this episode of Re-Quilibrium.
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About Dan White
Daniel White is CEO and co-founder of The Behaviouralist, a bright new company linking behavioural and experimental economics to solve real-world problems.
Dan has worked in a diverse range of environments, beginning his professional life in ecology and environmental education (he’s a keen birdwatcher). Subsequent work with indigenous communities in Mexico, music, and homeless teenagers in London finally led back to a fruitful career in the environment and energy sector. Here he delivered several ground-breaking and successful innovations, which include devising and delivering the first-ever construction rope-access insulation for high rise buildings - creating a new £30m industry in the UK. Dan has also designed and delivered biodiverse green roofs in the London area, specified low energy Passivhaus developments and has led research into aerogel technologies for insulating heritage buildings.
Over the last 10 years, Dan has been at the cutting-edge of applied behavioural science and field experiments in the UK, working with academics at London School of Economics, the University of Oxford and the University of Chicago. He currently lectures at University College London in applying field experiments to energy systems.
Dan’s work is mentioned in the renowned UK government paper MINDSPACE as an early application of behavioural science to domestic energy consumption. His subsequent research, with Professor Paul Dolan and Dr Robert Metcalfe - integrating incentives into smart energy data feedback, was one of the UK’s first applications of natural field experimentation and was deemed as one of the most cost-effective energy efficiency projects undertaken in the UK.
Since then, Dan has created the Behaviouralist with leading academics Robert Metcalfe and Robert Hahn, applying behavioural science and experimental methods to a host of organisational and societal problems, ranging from water consumption to social hosing allocations. The team’s work on incenting airline captains to improve fuel efficiency is one of the world’s most effective methods to reduce greenhouse gases.
Testing multiple treatments to meet multiple targets - helping technology uptake and water consumption reduction in the Southern USA
Neighbors, Knowledge and Nuggets - Two Natural Field Experiments on the Role of Incentives on Energy Conservation