Science

"The Problem With Evidence-Based Policies"

A useful warning from an economist.

In economics, RCTs have been all the rage, especially in the field of international development, despite critiques by the Nobel laureate Angus Deaton, Lant Pritchett, andDani Rodrik, who have attacked the inflated claims of RCT’s proponents. One serious shortcoming is external validity. Lessons travel poorly: If an RCT finds out that giving micronutrients to children in Guatemala improves their learning, should you give micronutrients to Norwegian children?

Stuart Butler at Brookings supports the argument.

So does Dan Davies.

Related: "The politics of evidence-based policymaking".


"Five Years Later, Cutting Through the Fukushima Myths"

From Popular Mechanics:

Here's the thing: There are demonstrably high levels of radioactivity in the seafloor sediments in the vicinity of the Fukushima site. But the question to ask is not "Is there any radioactivity present?" but rather, "How much radioactivity is present, and is it enough to be harmful?" Despite the very serious nature of the Fukushima calamity, the answer to the latter question isn't as worrying as you might have been led to believe.