A couple items recently came across my desk that were somewhat critical (at least in parts) of the use of behavioral economics in public policy making - in particular the idea that government can use insights from behavioral economists to nudge us into making the "right" decisions.
The first item is this new paper by Viscusi and Gayer for the Brookings Institute. They reasonably ask why behavioral economists haven't spent nearly as much time studying the irrationality of bureaucrats, politicians, and policy makers as they have studying the irrationality of consumers. Here's an extended quote (footnotes omitted) from their discussion on the propensity of government officials to suffer from a phenomenon called ambiguity aversion:
They go on to hint at the idea (though never come right out and say it) that the precautionary principle is a behavioral bias.
The other item was an article in the The Guardian that asks whether all the cutesy messages by companies and governments encouraging us to "do the right thing" are really all that helpful or more effective than traditional policies. The conclusion: