randomized controlled trial

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pages: 293 words: 81,183

Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make a Difference by William MacAskill

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barriers to entry, Black Swan, Branko Milanovic, Cal Newport, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, clean water, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, effective altruism, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, follow your passion, food miles, immigration reform, income inequality, index fund, Isaac Newton, job automation, job satisfaction, labour mobility, Lean Startup, M-Pesa, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, Nate Silver, Peter Singer: altruism, purchasing power parity, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, randomized controlled trial, self-driving car, Skype, Stanislav Petrov, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, universal basic income, women in the workforce

Kremer urged Lipeyah to test his program using what’s called a randomized controlled trial: he would monitor and collect data for fourteen local schools, implementing the program in seven of them, while letting the other seven go about business as usual. By collecting data from all fourteen schools to see which fared better, he could find out if his program actually worked. In hindsight, Kremer’s idea seems obvious. Randomized controlled trials are the gold-standard method of testing ideas in other sciences, and for decades pharmaceutical companies have used them to test new drugs. In fact, because it’s so important not to sell people ineffective or harmful drugs, it’s illegal to market a drug that hasn’t gone through extensive randomized controlled trials. But before Kremer suggested it, the idea had never been applied to the development world.

Robustness of evidence? Very robust. There have been multiple randomized controlled trials and two meta-analyses supporting the efficacy of bed nets. Implementation? Extremely good. AMF has been extremely transparent and open in communication. Room for more funding? Very large. AMF could productively use $20 million in 2015. Living Goods What do they do? Run a network of community health promoters in Uganda who go door-to-door selling affordable health products such as treatments for malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia; soap; menstrual pads; contraception; solar lanterns; and high-efficiency cookstoves, and providing health-care advice. Estimated cost-effectiveness? Very cost-effective. According to the estimates from the randomized controlled trial they’re running on their project, $3,000 spent on their program would save a life and provide a number of other benefits; GiveWell estimates their cost per life saved at $11,000.

Knowing that, it’s even better if the charity has done its own independently audited or peer-reviewed randomized controlled evaluations of its programs. Robustness of evidence is very important for the simple reason that many programs don’t work, and it’s hard to distinguish the programs that don’t work from the programs that do. If we’d assessed Scared Straight by looking just at before-and-after delinquency rates for individuals who went through the program, we would have concluded it was a great program. Only after looking at randomized controlled trials could we tell that correlation did not indicate causation in this case and that Scared Straight programs were actually doing more harm than good. One of the most damning examples of low-quality evidence concerns microcredit (that is, lending small amounts of money to the very poor, a form of microfinance most famously associated with Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank). Intuitively, microcredit seems like it would be very cost-effective, and there were many anecdotes of people who’d received microloans and used them to start businesses that, in turn, helped them escape poverty.


pages: 436 words: 123,488

Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine by John Abramson

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germ theory of disease, Louis Pasteur, medical malpractice, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, p-value, placebo effect, profit maximization, profit motive, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, stem cell, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

In 1990, Wyeth-Ayerst had requested that the FDA approve Premarin for the prevention of heart disease in postmenopausal women, notwithstanding the lack of evidence from randomized controlled trials documenting such a benefit. Cynthia Pearson, of the nonprofit, independent National Women’s Health Network, pointed out in an FDA hearing that the evidence supporting this claim was weak: “You couldn’t approve a drug for healthy men without a randomized clinical trial. Even aspirin [to prevent heart disease] had to have a randomized controlled trial with healthy men.” Ms. Pearson’s argument—that the standard for the gander ought to apply to the goose—prevailed. The FDA ruled that a randomized controlled trial was necessary to justify the claim that HRT decreased a woman’s risk of heart disease. Wyeth-Ayerst agreed to perform the requisite study, confident that the results would come out in their favor.

Perhaps the strongest evidence supporting routine HRT was presented in a 1997 article published in NEJM showing that “mortality among women who use postmenopausal hormones is lower than among nonusers,” again overriding continuing concerns about the link to breast cancer. HOW DID SO MANY PEOPLE GET IT SO WRONG? It helps to take a step back and look at the methods used in medical research. The two most common types of medical studies are randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and observational studies. A simple example demonstrates how these types of studies differ and illustrates the inherent strengths and weaknesses of each. Imagine that researchers want to study the impact that running a 10-kilometer road race has on women’s health over a one-year period. The simplest way to do this would be to set up an observational study. Researchers would wait at the finish line of a local 10K race and ask women if they would be willing to participate in the study.

But perhaps when the researchers designed the questionnaire, they weren’t smart enough to include a question that identified this belief, which could be the real reason why the runners were healthier one year after the race. Without being aware of this difference between the groups, the researchers might incorrectly attribute the runners’ better health to their having participated in the race. The other way to do this study is a randomized controlled trial, the gold standard of medical research. This study design provides a much more precise way to identify the factors that contribute to a particular outcome. Continuing with the example of the 10K race, researchers would find 200 women who agreed to participate in a study about the health effects of running such a race. The women would then be randomly assigned to the treatment group (to run in the race) or the control group (not to run in the race).


pages: 500 words: 145,005

Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics by Richard H. Thaler

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Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrei Shleifer, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Atul Gawande, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black-Scholes formula, capital asset pricing model, Cass Sunstein, Checklist Manifesto, choice architecture, clean water, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, constrained optimization, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edward Glaeser, endowment effect, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, George Akerlof, hindsight bias, Home mortgage interest deduction, impulse control, index fund, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, late fees, law of one price, libertarian paternalism, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, market clearing, Mason jar, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, More Guns, Less Crime, mortgage debt, Nash equilibrium, Nate Silver, New Journalism, nudge unit, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, presumed consent, pre–internet, principal–agent problem, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, random walk, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Chicago School, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, ultimatum game, Walter Mischel

Moreover, much of what economists do is to collect and analyze data about how markets work, work that is largely done with great care and statistical expertise, and importantly, most of this research does not depend on the assumption that people optimize. Two research tools that have emerged over the past twenty-five years have greatly expanded economists’ repertoire for learning about the world. The first is the use of randomized control trial experiments, long used in other scientific fields such as medicine. The typical study investigates what happens when some people receive some “treatment” of interest. The second approach is to use either naturally occurring experiments (such as when some people are enrolled in a program and others are not) or clever econometrics techniques that manage to detect the impact of treatments even though no one deliberately designed the situation for that purpose.

One way to unfreeze people is to remove barriers that are preventing them from changing, however subtle those barriers might be. 2. We can’t do evidence-based policy without evidence. Although much of the publicity about the BIT has rightly stressed its use of behavioral insights to design changes in how government operates, an equally important innovation was the insistence that all interventions be tested using, wherever possible, the gold-standard methodology of randomized control trials (RCTs)—the method often used in medical research. In an RCT, people are assigned at random to receive different treatments (such as the wording of the letters in the tax study), including a control group that receives no treatment (in this case, the original wording). Although this approach is ideal, it is not always feasible.¶ Sometimes researchers have to make compromises in order to be able to run any sort of trial.

I have two reasons. First, I have never come across a better example of the Lewin principle of removing barriers. In this case, the removal is quite literal. Whether or not this specific implementation will ever be adopted on a large scale, remembering this example may provide someone with an inspiration for a powerful nudge in another situation. Second, the example illustrates potential pitfalls of randomized controlled trials in field settings. Such experiments are expensive, and lots of stuff can go wrong. When a lab experiment gets fouled up, which happens all too often in labs run by Humans, a relatively small amount of money paid to subjects has been lost, but the experimenter can usually try again. Furthermore, smart experimenters run a cheap pilot first to detect any bugs in the setup. All of this is hard in large-scale field experiments, and to make matters worse, it is often not possible for the experimenters to be present, on site, at every step along the way.


pages: 410 words: 114,005

Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn From Their Mistakes--But Some Do by Matthew Syed

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Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, Atul Gawande, Black Swan, British Empire, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Checklist Manifesto, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, deliberate practice, double helix, epigenetics, fear of failure, fundamental attribution error, Henri Poincaré, hindsight bias, Isaac Newton, iterative process, James Dyson, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Joseph Schumpeter, Lean Startup, meta analysis, meta-analysis, minimum viable product, quantitative easing, randomized controlled trial, Silicon Valley, six sigma, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, Toyota Production System, Wall-E, Yom Kippur War

., 201 Krumboltz, John, 140, 141 Kuhn, Thomas, 42n Lamarckism, 108, 109, 111n Lancaster, Captain James, 56 Lane, David, 145, 146 language, 17, 28–29, 88–89 Lanir, Zvi, 221 lean start-ups, 141–45 Leape, Lucian, 9 Leibniz, Gottfried, 201 Leversha, Brian, 240, 242, 243, 244, 245, 246, 247–48 Leversha, Carol, 242, 243 Lexington Airport (Kentucky), 26 liberalism, 285 Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114, 217–19, 221–25 Lind, James, 14n linear model, of technological change, 131–33 line-ups, 115–16 litigation, 16, 32 Little Bets (Sims), 139 Lorentz, Hendrik, 202 Lowe, Paddy, 179–80, 183, 184 Luffingham, Tim, 240, 241, 242, 243, 244, 246 Lysenko, Trofim, 108–9, 110 Maclaren, Owen, 195 Magee, Brian, 277, 278, 288 Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, 9 Malpass, David, 96 Manzi, Jim, 186, 187 Maoism, 110 Mao Zedong, 110 marginal gains, 178–91 corporate world examples of, 184–86 cycling and, 173, 178, 179 defined, 179 limitations of, 189–90 Mercedes Formula One racing team and, 179–84 randomized control trials (RCTs) and, 175, 176–77 speed-eating and, 188 Marshall, Larry, 82 Martin, Andrew, 81 Martin, Dorothy. See Keech, Marian Marxism, 108, 110 masking tape, 195 mathematics/mathematicians, 125–26, 271–72 World War II, role in, 35–37 Mayer, Marissa, 185 McAlesher, Robert J., 163 McBroom, Malburn, 21, 22, 23–25, 27, 28, 29, 40 McClinton, Mary, 49–50 McGrath, Michael, 78–79 McRaney, David, 35 Mechnikov, Ilya, 109 media, and blame, 234–35 Baby P case and, 236–38 Medical Errors and Medical Narcissim (Banja), 88 medicine, 32. See also health care history of, 13–14 randomized control trials (RCTs) and, 157–58 Meese, Edwin, 68 memory, 113–14, 117 Mendel, Gregor, 108 Mendenhall, Forrest, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29 Menezes, Jean Charles de, 114 Menger, Karl, 34 Mercedes, 179–84 “A Method of Estimating Plane Vulnerability Based on Damage of Survivors” (Wald), 37 Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, 54–55 Mika, Michele, 165 Mill, John Stuart, 285 Mills, Judson, 75 mindset, 257–61, 264–65, 270–72, 273, 276, 279, 287–88 minimum viable product (MVP), 141–42, 286 miscarriages of justice.

., 84–85 surgery, 3–6, 15–16, 18 Swinmurn, Nick, 143 Syria, 92 systematic review, 164–65 system safety, 17, 18, 45 Taleb, Nassim Nicholas, 44–45, 133, 135 Tavris, Carol, 75, 93 Taylor, John, 95, 96 TD-Gammon, 134–35 Team Sky, 171–73, 179 technology/technological change, 19, 39, 131–35 bottom-up testing and learning and, 132–34 linear model of, 131–33 theory and, 133–34 Tellis, Gerard J., 205 temporal difference learning, 134–35 testing, 128–49 AIDS/HIV, strategies to combat, 147–49 lean start-ups and, 141–45 narrative fallacy as obstacle to, 135–38, 147–49 perfectionism, dangers of, 140–41 randomized control trials (RCTs) (See randomized control trials (RCTs)) of Scared Straight program efficacy, 160–65 software design and, 138–40 technological change and, 131–35 Tetlock, Philip, 99 theory, 133–34, 212 theory of relativity, 42, 133, 192, 195, 202 thermodynamics, laws of, 132 Think Like a Freak (Kobayashi), 187–88 Thomas, Dorothy, 201 Thompson, W. Leigh, 268 Thomson, Donald, 115 3M, 144 Time, 39, 53 time, perception of, 28–29, 30, 59 Tour de France, 171–73 Toyota Production System (TPS), 48–49, 51, 290 Toy Story (film), 207 Toy Story 2 (film), 207, 208–9 training, 30–31, 47–48 trial by jury, 118, 119 Tyson, Neil deGrasse, 111–12, 113, 114, 117 Uncontrolled (Manzi), 187 Unilever, 125–26, 128, 137, 147 unindicted co-ejaculator theory, 81 United Airlines, 21–25 United Airlines 173, 20, 27–31, 39, 40, 84 United Kingdom criminal justice system reforms and, 117 health care and, 10, 18, 54–55 math proficiency in, 271 United States of America DNA testing and, 84 economics and, 94–97, 98 entrepreneurship culture and, 270–71 health care and, 9–10, 17, 32, 49–54, 55–56, 106 math proficiency in, 271 US Airways Flight 1549, 38, 39–40 U.S.

But first we will ask: How is this possible? How can something be a failure when the statistics seem to show that it is a success? How can it be failing when virtually every expert is lining up to endorse it? To answer that question we will examine one of the most important scientific innovations of the last two hundred years, and one that takes us to the heart of the closed-loop phenomenon—and how to overcome it. The randomized control trial. II Closed loops are often perpetuated by people covering up mistakes. They are also kept in place when people spin their mistakes, rather than confronting them head on. But there is a third way that closed loops are sustained over time: through skewed interpretation. That was the problem that bedeviled bloodletting, practiced by medieval doctors. The doctors had what seemed like clear feedback on what worked and what didn’t.


pages: 494 words: 116,739

Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change From the Cult of Technology by Kentaro Toyama

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Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, blood diamonds, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, computer vision, conceptual framework, delayed gratification, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, fundamental attribution error, germ theory of disease, global village, Hans Rosling, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Khan Academy, Kibera, knowledge worker, libertarian paternalism, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, microcredit, mobile money, Nicholas Carr, North Sea oil, pattern recognition, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, randomized controlled trial, rent-seeking, RFID, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, school vouchers, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, technoutopianism, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Upton Sinclair, Walter Mischel, War on Poverty, winner-take-all economy, World Values Survey, Y2K

See also Health Downer, Ann, 136–138, 207 Dowries, 19–20, 175 Driver, Julia, 274(n4), 275(n5) Dudamel, Gustavo, 194 Duflo, Esther, 77–78, 82, 236–237(n14), 240–241(n14), 240(n8), 271(n9) The Dumbest Generation (Bauerlein), 10 Duncan, Arne, 10, 12–13, 117 Dutch disease, 158, 259(n9) Dweck, Caro, 250(n12) Dybul, Mark, 136–137 Dziko, Trish Millines, 114–115, 162 Easterly, William, 213, 236(n1) Ebola, 254(n25) Echeverría Álvarez, Luis, 193 Economics behavioral economics, 143–145, 258(n2) critique of, 95, 155–156, 169, 263(n41) development, x, 170, 174–188, 189, 196, 245(n61), 255(n40), 268(n20) education, 142–145, European Enlightenment, 96–98 happiness, 88 health care, 42–44, 137–138 India’s high-tech economy, 182–185 studies of education, 8, 12, 31, 77–82 studies of microcredit, 59–61 mainstream economics, 82 measurement, 91–92 mobile phones and development, x technological determinism of, 20 See also Business and entrepreneurship; Incentives; Inequality; Randomized controlled trials; Social enterprise, Tech Commandments Education and training adult education, 122–125 classroom management, 115–116, 118–119 computer literacy, 9, 17–20, 105, 122–125 computer programming, 114–115, 120–121, 125–127, 248(n25) democracy, 255–256(n40) early childhood, 77–80, 240(n10), 263(n43) girls’ education, 142–146, 263(n43) Indian Institute of Technology, 183–185 India’s Backward Class, 139–142 intrinsic growth effects, 143–146 lack of technical support for faculty and staff, 5–7 microcredit beneficiaries, 67–68, 71–72 nonformal education, 77–80, 240(n10) parental status and achievement, 250–251(n13) poverty alleviation, 67–68 questioning the value of, 255(n40) randomized controlled trials, 8, 12, 31, 77–82 recommended use of technology, 114–121 reform movement, 275(n5) return on investment, 142–149, 263(n43) rote learning, sustainability, 146–149 teaching to the test, 94–95 technology policy, 116–118 technology strategy for schools, 119–121, 248(n25) upgrading technology or skills, 122–125 variety of experience, 257(n46) See also Ashesi University; Capacity building; Gamification; Mentorship; Shanti Bhavan school; Technology Access Foundation Egg-drop contest, 211 Effort, role in outcomes.

You have to look at the non-digital context. Similarly, to better understand our technology fixation, it’s important to recognize its larger social and historical context. As I began to doubt the hype around packaged interventions, I wanted to see if I could bypass their problems. Maybe there were other approaches to social change. So I engaged with three ideas that have growing support – randomized controlled trials, social enterprises, and happiness as a goal. These are largely unrelated efforts, but they all have great merit and are well-regarded within their specializations. Promisingly, each had a potential claim to exorcising the curse of packaged interventions. The Randomista Revolution In July 2011 I visited a school in Kotra, a little village in southern Rajasthan. The small hut had white plaster walls and a thatched roof.

What made this project unique was that world-renowned researchers had used a rigorous methodology to establish something that seemed to contradict the Law of Amplification. The research team was led by Esther Duflo, a brilliant MIT economist who counts among her honors a MacArthur “genius grant” as well as the John Bates Clark Medal, a good predictor of future Nobel laureates. As a pioneering member of the Abdul Lateef Jameel Poverty Action Lab (JPAL), Duflo has been a tireless advocate for the use of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to verify the value of antipoverty programs. This is the methodology used in clinical medicine, whereby a control group establishes a baseline against which the effectiveness of a treatment can be compared. In applying the rigor of hard science to social questions, Duflo and her colleagues are revolutionaries. Rivals and supporters have nicknamed them “randomistas.” In a paper describing the effort, Duflo and her colleagues reported dramatic results.


pages: 370 words: 112,602

Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty by Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo

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Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, Cass Sunstein, charter city, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, congestion charging, demographic transition, diversified portfolio, experimental subject, hiring and firing, land tenure, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, microcredit, moral hazard, purchasing power parity, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, school vouchers, Silicon Valley, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Thomas Malthus, urban planning

In doing so, we were following a long tradition of development economists who have emphasized the importance of collecting the right data to be able to say anything useful about the world. However, we had two advantages over the previous generations: First, there are now high-quality data from a number of poor countries that were not available before. Second, we have a new, powerful tool: randomized control trials (RCTs), which give researchers, working with a local partner, a chance to implement large-scale experiments designed to test their theories. In an RCT, as in the studies on bed nets, individuals or communities are randomly assigned to different “treatments”—different programs or different versions of the same program. Since the individuals assigned to different treatments are exactly comparable (because they were chosen at random), any difference between them is the effect of the treatment.

To get them started, BRAC designed a program in which they would be given an asset (a pair of cows, a few goats, a sewing machine, and so on), a small financial allowance for a few months (to serve as working capital and to ensure they would not be tempted to liquidate the asset), and a lot of hand-holding: regular meetings, literacy classes, encouragement to save a little bit every week. Variants of this program are currently being evaluated in six countries, using randomized control trials (RCTs). We were involved in one of these studies, in partnership with Bandhan, an MFI in West Bengal. We visited households before the program was started and heard, from each of the families that were selected for the program, stories of crisis and desperation: A husband was a drunkard and regularly beat his wife; another died in an accident, leaving a young family behind; a widow was abandoned by her children; and so forth.

More than half the schools got nothing at all. Inquiries suggested that a lot of the money most likely ended up in the pockets of district officials. It is easy to get depressed by such findings (which have been corroborated by similar studies in several other countries). We are often asked why we do what we do: “Why bother?” These are the “small” questions. William Easterly, for one, criticized randomized control trials (RCTs) on his blog in these terms: “RCTs are infeasible for many of the big questions in development, like the economy-wide effects of good institutions or good macroeconomic policies.” Then, he concluded that “embracing RCTs has led development researchers to lower their ambitions.”3 This statement was a good reflection of an institutionalist view that has strong currency in development economics today.


pages: 743 words: 189,512

The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet by Nina Teicholz

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Albert Einstein, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, Gary Taubes, Indoor air pollution, meta analysis, meta-analysis, phenotype, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, Robert Gordon, the scientific method, Upton Sinclair

Westman was the first physician researcher to take Atkins up on that offer to go through all those medical files. He visited Atkins’s office in New York City in the late 1990s and was impressed by his success in helping patients to lose weight and improve health. But he decided that the files weren’t good enough. “I need science,” he told Atkins. Westman knew that the only way to make sense of various anecdotal accounts was to do randomized controlled trials, the gold standard of medical evidence. So he, along with a few colleagues around the country, started conducting those trials. This new group of researchers entering the field were young and relatively ignorant about the professional sandpit into which they’d be sinking. Gary Foster, for instance, a professor of psychology at Temple University who took part in a landmark trial comparing different diets in 2003, says he had no idea that including the Atkins regime in his study would be so contentious.

., “Low-Fat Dietary Pattern and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: The Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Dietary Modification Trial,” Journal of the American Medical Association 295, no. 6 (2006): 655–666; Ross L. Prentice et al., “Low-Fat Dietary Pattern and Risk of Invasive Breast Cancer: The Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Dietary Modification Trial,” Journal of the American Medical Association 295, no. 6 (2006): 629–642; Ross L. Prentice et al., “Low-Fat Dietary Pattern and Cancer Incidence in the Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification Randomized Controlled Trial,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 99, no. 20 (2007): 1534–1543. In writing this book: The author has no conflicts of interest; she has never received any financial or in-kind support, either directly or indirectly, from any party with an interest related to any of the topics covered in this book. 1. The Fat Paradox: Good Health on a High-Fat Diet Observers estimated that: Vihjalmur Stefansson, The Fat of the Land, enlg. ed. of Not by Bread Alone (1946, repr., New York: Macmillan, 1956), 31; calculated by the author from Hugh M.

., “Tracking of Serum Lipids and Lipoproteins in Children over an 8-Year Period: The Bogalusa Heart Study,” Preventive Medicine 14, no. 2 (1985): 203–216. Cochrane concluded: Vanessa J. Poustie and Patricia Rutherford, “Dietary Treatment for Familial Hypercholesterolaemia,” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2 (2001): CD001918–CD001918. rigorous study on this hypothesis: Benjamin Caballero et al., “Pathways: A School-Based, Randomized Controlled Trial for the Prevention of Obesity in American Indian Schoolchildren,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 78, no. 5 (2003): 1030–1038. “major contributor of growth failure”: Andrew M. Prentice and Alison A. Paul, “Fat and Energy Needs of Children in Developing Countries,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 72, suppl. (2000): 1253S. He compared some 140 Gambian infants . . . 8 pounds more than the Gambians . . . : Ibid., 1259S–1260S. 5 percent of energy as fat: Ibid., 1261S.


pages: 382 words: 115,172

The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat by Tim Spector

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biofilm, British Empire, Colonization of Mars, cuban missile crisis, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, life extension, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, phenotype, randomized controlled trial, Steve Jobs

Diet and feeding pattern affect the diurnal dynamics of the gut microbiome. 12 Casazza, K., N Engl J Med (31 Jan 2013); 368(5): 446-54. Myths, presumptions, and facts about obesity. 13 Betts, J.A., Am J Clin Nutr (4 Jun 2014); 100(2): 539–47. The causal role of breakfast in energy balance and health: a randomized controlled trial in lean adults. Dhurandhar, E.J., Am J Clin Nutr, (4 Jun 2014); 100(2): 507–13. The effectiveness of breakfast recommendations on weight loss: a randomized controlled trial. 14 de la Hunty, A., Obes Facts (2013); 6(1): 70–85. Does regular breakfast cereal consumption help children and adolescents stay slimmer? A systematic review and meta-analysis. 15 Brown, A.W., Am J Clin Nutr (Nov 2013); 98(5): 1298–308. Belief beyond the evidence: using the proposed effect of breakfast on obesity to show two practices that distort scientific evidence. 16 Desai, A.V., Twin Res (Dec 2004); 7(6): 589–95.

Antioxidant supplements for prevention of mortality in healthy participants and patients with various diseases. 6 Risk and Prevention Study Collaborative Group, N Engl J Med (9 May 2013); 368(19): 1800–8.n-3. Fatty acids in patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors. 7 Qin, X., Int J Cancer (1 Sep 2013); 133(5): 1033–41. Folic acid supplementation and cancer risk: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. 8 Burdge, G.C., Br J Nutr (14 Dec 2012); 108(11): 1924–30. Folic acid supplementation in pregnancy: Are there devils in the detail? 9 Qin, X., Clin Nutr (Aug 2014); 33(4): 603–12. Folic acid supplementation with and without vitamin B6 and revascularization risk: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. 10 Murto, T., Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand (Jan 2015); 94(1): 65–71. Folic acid supplementation and methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene variations in relation to in vitro fertilization pregnancy outcome. 11 Huang, Y., Int J Mol Sci (14 Apr 2014); 15(4): 6298–313.

Dairy and Cardiovascular Disease: A Review of Recent Observational Research. 11 Tachmazidou, I., Nature Commun (2013); 4: 2872. A rare functional cardioprotective APOC3 variant has risen in frequency in distinct population isolates. 12 Minger, D., Death by Food Pyramid (Primal Blueprint, 2013) 13 Chen, M., Am J Clin Nutr (Oct 2012); 96(4): 735–47. Effects of dairy intake on body weight and fat: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. 14 Martinez-Gonzalez, M., Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis (Nov 2014); 24(11): 1189–96. Yogurt consumption, weight change and risk of overweight/obesity: the SUN cohort. 15 Jacques, P., Am J Clin Nutr (May 2014); 99(5): 1229S–34S. Yogurt and weight management. 16 Kano, H., J Dairy Sci (2013); 96: 3525–34. Oral administration of Lactobacillus delbrueckii subspecies bulgaricus OLL1073R-1 suppresses inflammation by decreasing interleukin-6 responses in a murine model of atopic dermatitis. 17 Daneman, N., Lancet (12 Oct 2013); 382(9900): 1228–30 A probiotic trial: tipping the balance of evidence?


pages: 407 words: 100,512

The Menopause Thyroid Solution by Mary J. Shomon

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clean water, Gary Taubes, life extension, megacity, Ralph Waldo Emerson, randomized controlled trial

This is in contrast to some American diets that may include as much as 60 grams of soy protein a day, from various processed forms of soy, soy supplements, soy milk, and so on. So far, the proven benefit that soy proponents can offer is that substituting soy protein for animal protein can slightly reduce cholesterol levels. But can soy foods help hot flashes? The evidence is mixed. In fact, in eight different randomized controlled trials of soy foods, only one of the studies found a significant reduction in the frequency of hot flashes, but several showed a slight reduction in frequency. Generally, there’s little published evidence to support the idea that increasing soy isoflavone intake from food or supplements substantially improves hot flashes. At the same time, we know that Asian women, who traditionally have a higher amount of soy in the diet, have much lower rates of hot flashes than American women.

“Revealing Estrogen’s Secret Role in Obesity.” Press release, August 13, 2007. Anderson D., et al. “Menopause in Australia and Japan: Effects of Country of Residence on Menopausal Status and Menopausal Symptoms.” Climacteric 2004; 7(2): 165–174. Anderson, G. L., Limacher M., Assaf A. R., et al. (2004). “Effects of Conjugated Equine Estrogen in Postmenopausal Women with Hysterectomy: the Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Trial.” Journal of the American Medical Association, 291(14): 1701–12. Arafah, Baha. “Increased Need or Thyroxine in Women with Hypothyroidism during Estrogen Therapy.” New England Journal of Medicine 2001 (June 7): 1743–1749. Arendt, Josephine. “Safety of Melatonin in Long-Term Use.” Journal of Biological Rhythms 1997; 12(6): 673–681. Arthur, J.R. “Selenium and Iodine Deficiencies and Selenoprotein Function.”

American Journal of Public Health 2001; 91(9): 1435–1442. Brownstein, David. Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live without It (3rd ed.). Medical Alternatives Press. 2008. Brownstein, David. The Miracle of Natural Hormones. Medical Alternatives Press. 2006. Brownstein, David. Overcoming Thyroid Disorders. Medical Alternatives Press. 2002. Butt, Debra A., et al. “Gabapentin for the Treatment of Menopausal Hot Flashes: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Menopause 2008; 15(2): 310–318. Cagnacci, A., et al. “Season of Birth Influences the Timing of Menopause.” Human Reproduction. 2005 Aug; 20(8): 2190–3. Casper, Robert, et al. “Menopausal Hot Flashes.” Up to Date in Endocrinology and Diabetes 2006 (September). Ceccarelli, Claudia, and Walter Bencivelli. “131I Therapy for Differentiated Thyroid Cancer Leads to an Earlier Onset of Menopause: Results of a Retrospective Study.”


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Why Nudge?: The Politics of Libertarian Paternalism by Cass R. Sunstein

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Andrei Shleifer, availability heuristic, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, clean water, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Edward Glaeser, endowment effect, energy security, framing effect, invisible hand, late fees, libertarian paternalism, loss aversion, nudge unit, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler

Reiner, Are You Willing to Be Nudged into Making the Right Decision, Slate (Aug. 13, 2013) (emphasis in original), available at http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/08/13/research_shows_when_nudging_works_and_when_it_doesn_t.html. 8. Susan Parker, Esther Duflo Explains Why She Believes Randomized Controlled Trials Are So Vital, The Center for Effective Philanthropy Blog (June 23, 2011), http://www.effectivephilanthropy.org/blog/2011/06/esther-duflo-explains-why-she-believes-randomized-controlled-trials-are -so-vital. Duflo develops these ideas in detail in her 2012 Tanner Lectures. See Esther Duflo, Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation & Dev. Econ., Mass. Inst. of Tech., Tanner Lectures on Human Values and the Design of the Fight Against Poverty (May 2, 2012), http://economics.mit.edu/files/7904.

It makes far more sense to say that people display bounded rationality than to accuse them of “irrationality,” and for many purposes, bounded rationality is just fine, producing outcomes that are equal to or perhaps even better than what would emerge from efforts to optimize by assessing all costs and benefits. With respect to errors, more is being learned every day. Some behavioral findings remain highly preliminary and need further testing. There is much that we do not know. Randomized controlled trials, the gold standard for empirical research, must be used far more to obtain a better understanding of how the relevant findings operate in the world.22 Even at this stage, however, the underlying findings have been widely noticed, and behavioral economics, cognitive and social psychology, and related fields have had a significant effect on policies in several nations, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

On the general point, see Andrei Shleifer, Psychologists at the Gate, 50 J. ECON. LITERATURE 1080 (2012). 21. See HEURISTICS: THE FOUNDATIONS OF ADAPTIVE BEHAVIOR (Gerd Gigerenzer et al. eds., 2011). 22. Michael Greenstone, Toward a Culture of Persistent Regulatory Experimentation and Evaluation, in NEW PERSPECTIVES ON REGULATION 111 (David Moss & John Cisternino eds., 2009). For a number of discussions of randomized controlled trials, including nudges, see ABHIJIT V. BANERJEE & ESTHER DUFLO, POOR ECONOMICS: A RADICAL RETHINKING OF THE WAY TO FIGHT GLOBAL POVERTY (2011). 23. See SUNSTEIN, supra note 9. 24. See, e.g., id.; see also Theresa M. Marteau et al., Changing Human Behavior to Prevent Disease: The Importance of Targeting Automatic Processes, 337 SCIENCE 1492 (2012) (exploring role of automatic processing in behavior in the domain of health). 25.


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The End of My Addiction by Olivier Ameisen

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Albert Einstein, epigenetics, meta analysis, meta-analysis, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, statistical model

A. et al. (2004) Prevalence and co-occurrence of substance use disorders and independent mood and anxiety disorders: results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Archives of General Psychiatry 61, 807–816. Johnson, B. A., Ait-Daoud, N., Bowden, C. L. et al. (2003) Oral topiramate for treatment of alcohol dependence: a randomized controlled trial. Lancet 361, 1677–1685. Johnson, B. A., Ait-Daoud, N., Akhtar, F. Z. et al. (2004) Oral topiramate reduces the consequences of drinking and improves the quality of life of alcohol-dependent individuals: a randomized controlled trial. Archives of General Psychiatry 61, 905–912. Kampman, K. M., Pettinati, H., Lynch, K. G. et al. (2004) A pilot trial of topiramate for the treatment of cocaine dependence. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 75, 233–240. Kranzler, H. R., Wesson, D. R., Billot, L. et al. (2004) Naltrexone depot for treatment of alcohol dependence: a multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial.

, O’Malley, S. S. et al. (2005) Vivitrex Study Group. Efficacy and tolerability of long-acting injectable naltrexone for alcohol dependence: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Association 293, 1617–1625. Grant, B. F., Stinson, F. S., Dawson, D. A. et al. (2004) Prevalence and co-occurrence of substance use disorders and independent mood and anxiety disorders: results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry 61, 807–816. Johnson, B. A., Ait-Daoud, N., Bowden, C. L. et al. (2003) Oral topiramate for treatment of alcohol dependence: a randomized controlled trial. Lancet 361, 1677–1685. Koob, G. F. (2000) Animal models of craving for ethanol. Addiction 95 (Suppl 2), 573–581. Nielsen, J. F., Hansen, H. J., Sunde, N. et al. (2002) Evidence of tolerance to baclofen in treatment of severe spasticity with intrathecal baclofen.

But I was impressed by the fact that the article was in The Lancet, one of the world’s three most influential medical journals, along with The New England Journal of Medicine and The Journal of the American Medical Association. The other articles I had found were all in smaller, specialized journals. Moreover, the topiramate study was larger and longer than the baclofen studies in the other articles, and it was a randomized controlled trial, the gold standard of modern medicine. Last but not least, it was brand-new. “This must be the cutting edge,” I thought. It seemed like my best hope yet for achieving complete abstinence from alcohol. I went to the medical library at the Pompidou Centre to read the entire article and make a photocopy. Over a ten-day period, I tapered my baclofen dose down to zero. I used my doctor’s medical card to purchase topiramate, and then I followed the Lancet article’s protocol, taking topiramate for a total of twelve weeks and escalating the dose from 25 to 300 milligrams a day.


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Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It by Gary Taubes

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California gold rush, cognitive dissonance, Gary Taubes, meta analysis, meta-analysis, randomized controlled trial

Eating less saturated fat was one of the multiple interventions tested. When the disappointing results were published in 1982, The Wall Street Journal headline said it all: “Heart Attacks, a Test Collapses.” *In September 2009, the World Health Organization’s Food and Agricultural Organization published a reassessment of the data on dietary fat and heart disease. “The available evidence from [observational studies] and randomized controlled trials,” the report stated, “is unsatisfactory and unreliable to make judgment about and substantiate the effects of dietary fat on risk of CHD [coronary heart disease].” *This was the trial of calorie-restricted diets carried out by researchers from Harvard and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center by Frank Sacks and his colleagues that I discussed in chapter 2. An editorial that accompanied the article in the NEJM explained the concept of HDL as a “biomarker for dietary carbohydrate” this way: “When fat is replaced isocalorically by carbohydrate, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol decreases in a predictable fashion

Journal of the American Medical Association. Mar 7;297(9):969–77. Godsland, I. F. 2009. “Insulin Resistance and Hyperinsulinaemia in the Development and Progression of Cancer.” Clinical Science. Nov 23;118(5):315–32. Harris, M. 1985. Good to Eat: Riddles of Food and Culture. New York: Simon and Schuster. Hession, M., C. Rolland, U. Kulkarni, A. Wise, and J. Broom. 2009. “Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials of Low-Carbohydrate vs. Low-Fat/Low-Calorie Diets in the Management of Obesity and Its Comorbidities.” Obesity Reviews. Jan;10(1):36–50. Hooper, L., C. D. Summerbell, J. P. Higgins, et al. 2001. “Reduced or Modified Dietary Fat for Preventing Cardiovascular Disease.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. (3):CD002137. Howard, B. V., L. Van Horn, J. Hsia, et al. 2006. “Low-Fat Dietary Pattern and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: The Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Dietary Modification Trial.”

World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research. 2007. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. Washington, D.C.: American Institute for Cancer Research. Yancy, W. S., Jr., M. K. Olsen, J. R. Guyton, R. P. Bakst, and E. C. Westman. 2004. “A Low-Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet Versus a Low-Fat Diet to Treat Obesity and Hyperlipidemia: A Randomized, Controlled Trial.” Annals of Internal Medicine. May 18;140(10):769–77. Chapter 19: Following Through Allan, C. B., and W. Lutz. 2000. Life Without Bread: How a Low-Carbohydrate Diet Can Save Your Life. New York: McGraw-Hill. Kemp, R. 1972. “The Over-All Picture of Obesity.” Practitioner. Nov;209:654–60. ——. 1966. “Obesity as a Disease.” Practitioner. Mar;196:404–9. ——. 1963. “Carbohydrate Addiction.”


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Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease by Gary Taubes

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Albert Einstein, California gold rush, cognitive dissonance, collaborative editing, Drosophila, experimental subject, Gary Taubes, invention of agriculture, John Snow's cholera map, meta analysis, meta-analysis, phenotype, placebo effect, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Robert Gordon, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, unbiased observer, Upton Sinclair

The arguments on sick populations and preventive public health are compelling, but they come with four critically important caveats. First, Rose’s logic does not differentiate between hypotheses. It would invariably be invoked to explain why studies failed to confirm Keys’s fat hypothesis, and would be considered extraneous when similar studies failed to generate evidence supporting competing hypotheses. It is precisely to avoid such subjective biases that randomized controlled trials are necessary to determine which hypotheses are most likely true. Second, as Rose observed, all public-health interventions come with potential risks, as well as benefits—unintended or unimagined side effects. Small or negligible risks to an individual will also add up and can lead to unacceptable harm to the population at large. As a result, the only acceptable measures of prevention are those that remove what Rose called “unnatural factors” and restore “‘biological normality’—that is…the conditions to which presumably we are genetically adapted.”

As a result, a joint 1997 report of the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, entitled Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer, said this: The degree to which starch is refined in diets, particularly when the intake of starch is high, may itself be an important factor in cancer risk, as may the volume of refined starches and sugars in diets. Epidemiological studies have not, however, generally distinguished between degrees of refining or processing of starches, and there are, as yet, no reliable epidemiological data specifically on the effects of refining on cancer risk. Cleave’s saccharine-disease hypothesis may be intuitively appealing, but it is effectively impossible to test without a randomized controlled trial. If Cleave was right, then epidemiologists comparing populations or individuals with and without chronic disease have to take into account not just sugar consumption but flour, and whether that flour is white or whole-grain, and whether rice is polished or unpolished, white or brown, and even how much beer is consumed compared with, say, red wine or hard liquor. They might have to distinguish between table sugar and the sugar in soft drinks and fruit juices.

The pattern is precisely what would be expected of a hypothesis that simply isn’t true: the larger and more rigorous the trials set up to test it, the more consistently negative the evidence. Between 1994 and 2000, two observational studies—of forty-seven thousand male health professionals and the eighty-nine thousand women of the Nurses Health Study, both run out of the Harvard School of Public Health—and a half-dozen randomized control trials concluded that fiber consumption is unrelated to the risk of colon cancer, as is, apparently, the consumption of fruits and vegetables. The results of the forty-nine-thousand-women Dietary Modification Trial of the Women’s Health Initiative, published in 2006, confirmed that increasing the fiber in the diet (by eating more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables) had no beneficial effect on colon cancer, nor did it prevent heart disease or breast cancer or induce weight loss.


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The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality by Angus Deaton

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Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Branko Milanovic, BRICs, British Empire, call centre, clean water, colonial exploitation, Columbian Exchange, declining real wages, Downton Abbey, financial innovation, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, illegal immigration, income inequality, invention of agriculture, invisible hand, John Snow's cholera map, knowledge economy, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, new economy, purchasing power parity, randomized controlled trial, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, Simon Kuznets, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, structural adjustment programs, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, trade route, very high income, War on Poverty

These arguments have led to a movement toward more careful evaluation, often with an emphasis on randomized controlled trials as the best way of finding out whether a given project worked and, beyond that, of finding out “what works” in general. (In randomized controlled trials, some “units”—people or schools or villages—get treated, and some—the controls—do not, with units assigned to one of the two groups at random.) According to this view, aid has been much less effective than it would have been had past projects been seriously evaluated. If the World Bank had subjected all of its projects to rigorous evaluation, the argument goes, we would by now know what works and what does not work, and global poverty would have vanished long ago. Those who favor randomized controlled trials—the randomistas—tend to be very skeptical of typical self-evaluations by NGOs, and they have worked with cooperative NGOs to help strengthen their evaluation procedures.

One key innovation in managing cardiovascular disease was the discovery that diuretics—cheap pills, sometimes called “water pills” because they increase the frequency of urination—are effective antihypertensives, meaning that they reduce high blood pressure, one of the major risk factors for heart disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Diuretics … help rid your body of salt (sodium) and water. They work by making your kidneys put more sodium into your urine. The sodium, in turn, takes water with it from your blood. That decreases the amount of fluid flowing through your blood vessels, which reduces pressure on the walls of your arteries.”7 An important randomized controlled trial from the U.S. Veterans Administration was published in 1970,8 and thereafter practice changed quickly in the United States. One of the characteristics of the U.S. health-care system is that innovations tend to be introduced very quickly—not only the good ones like antihypertensives, but also many that are of dubious value. Britain, with its cash-constrained and centrally run National Health Service, tends to be much slower and more cautious about introducing medical innovations—today it has a National Institute of Clinical Excellence, with the splendid acronym NICE, to test new products and new procedures and make recommendations—so even the cheap and effective diuretics took a while to be adopted.

Those who favor randomized controlled trials—the randomistas—tend to be very skeptical of typical self-evaluations by NGOs, and they have worked with cooperative NGOs to help strengthen their evaluation procedures. They have also persuaded the World Bank to use randomized controlled trials in some of its work. Finding out whether a given project was or was not successful is important in itself but unlikely to reveal anything very useful about what works or does not work in general. Often, the experimental and control groups are very small (experiments can be expensive), which makes the results unreliable. More seriously, there is no reason to suppose that what works in one place will work somewhere else. Even if an aid-financed project is the cause of people doing well—and even if we were to be absolutely sure of that fact—causes usually do not operate alone; they need various other factors that help them to work.


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Bad Pharma: How Medicine Is Broken, and How We Can Fix It by Ben Goldacre

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data acquisition, framing effect, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, income per capita, meta analysis, meta-analysis, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, Ronald Reagan, Simon Singh, WikiLeaks

Iain Chalmers was the first to raise TGN1412 and anti-arrhythmics as examples of the harm done when individual early trials are left unpublished. They are the best illustrations of this problem, but you should not imagine that they are unusual: the quantitative data shows that they are just two among many, many similar cases. 11 Antman EM, Lau J, Kupelnick B, Mosteller F, Chalmers TC. A comparison of results of meta-analyses of randomized control trials and recommendations of clinical experts. Treatments for myocardial infarction. JAMA. 1992 Jul 8;268(2):240–8. 12 Here is the classic early paper arguing this point: Chalmers Iain. Underreporting Research Is Scientific Misconduct. JAMA. 1990 Mar 9;263(10):1405–1408. 13 Sterling T. Publication decisions and their possible effects on inferences drawn from tests of significance – or vice versa.

Cognitive Ther Res 1977;1:161–75. 39 Ernst E, Resch KL. Reviewer bias – a blinded experimental study. J Lab Clin Med 1994;124:178–82. 40 Abbot NE, Ernst E. Publication bias: direction of outcome less important than scientific quality. Perfusion 1998;11:182–4. 41 Emerson GB, Warme WJ, Wolf FM, Heckman JD, Brand RA, Leopold SS. Testing for the Presence of Positive-Outcome Bias in Peer Review: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Arch Intern Med. 2010 Nov 22;170(21):1934–9. 42 Weber EJ, Callaham ML, Wears RL, Barton C, Young G. Unpublished research from a medical specialty meeting: why investigators fail to publish. JAMA 1998;280:257–9. 43 Kupfersmid J, Fiala M. A survey of attitudes and behaviors of authors who publish in psychology and education journals. Am Psychol 1991;46:249–50. 44 Song F, Parekh S, Hooper L, Loke YK, Ryder J, Sutton AJ, et al.

Being a modern pharmaceutical company. BMJ. 1998 Oct 31;317(7167):1172–80. 59 De Angelis C, Drazen JM, Frizelle FA, Haug C, Hoey J, Horton R, et al. Clinical trial registration: a statement from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. The Lancet. 2004 Sep 11;364(9438):911–2. 60 Mathieu S, Boutron I, Moher D, Altman DG, Ravaud P. Comparison of Registered and Published Primary Outcomes in Randomized Controlled Trials. JAMA. 2009 Sep 2;302(9):977–84. 61 Wieseler B, McGauran N, Kaiser T. Still waiting for functional EU Clinical Trials Register. BMJ. 2011 Jun 20;342(jun20 2):d3834–d3834. 62 Prayle AP, Hurley MN, Smyth AR. Compliance with mandatory reporting of clinical trial results on ClinicalTrials.gov: cross sectional study. BMJ. 2012;344:d7373. 63 A good (but brief) overview of how to try and get info from non-academic sources is here: Chan A-W.


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The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van Der Kolk M. D.

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anesthesia awareness, British Empire, conceptual framework, deskilling, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, false memory syndrome, feminist movement, impulse control, Louis Pasteur, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, phenotype, placebo effect, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, theory of mind, Yogi Berra

Heckman, “Skill Formation and the Economics of Investing in Disadvantaged Children,” Science 312, no. 5782 (2006): 1900–2. 37. D. Olds, et al., “Long-Term Effects of Nurse Home Visitation on Children’s Criminal and Antisocial Behavior: 15-Year Follow-up of a Randomized Controlled Trial,” JAMA 280, no. 14 (1998): 1238–44. See also J. Eckenrode, et al., “Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect with a Program of Nurse Home Visitation: The Limiting Effects of Domestic Violence,” JAMA 284, no. 11 (2000): 1385–91; D. I. Lowell, et al., “A Randomized Controlled Trial of Child FIRST: A Comprehensive Home-Based Intervention Translating Research into Early Childhood Practice,” Child Development 82, no. 1 (January/February 2011): 193–208; S. T. Harvey and J. E. Taylor, “A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Psychotherapy with Sexually Abused Children and Adolescents, Clinical Psychology Review 30, no. 5 (July 2010): 517–35; J.

Feinstein, “Rapid Treatment of PTSD: Why Psychological Exposure with Acupoint Tapping May Be Effective,” Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training 47, no. 3 (2010): 385–402; D. Church, et al., “Psychological Trauma Symptom Improvement in Veterans Using EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique): A Randomized Controlled Trial,” Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 201 (2013): 153–60; D. Church, G. Yount, and A. J. Brooks, “The Effect of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) on Stress Biochemistry: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 200 (2012): 891–96; R. P. Dhond, N. Kettner, and V. Napadow, “Neuroimaging Acupuncture Effects in the Human Brain,” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 13 (2007): 603–616; K. K. Hui, et al., “Acupuncture Modulates the Limbic System and Subcortical Gray Structures of the Human Brain: Evidence from fMRI Studies in Normal Subjects,” Human Brain Mapping 9 (2000): 13–25. 2.

Grossman, et al., “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Health Benefits: A Meta-Analysis,” Journal of Psychosomatic Research 57 (2004): 35–43; K. Sherman, et al., “Comparing Yoga, Exercise, and a Self-Care Book for Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized, Controlled Trial,” Annals of Internal Medicine 143 (2005): 849–56; K. A. Williams, et al., “Effect of Iyengar Yoga Therapy for Chronic Low Back Pain,” Pain 115 (2005): 107–117; R. B. Saper, et al., “Yoga for Chronic Low Back Pain in a Predominantly Minority Population: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial,” Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 15 (2009): 18–27; J. W. Carson, et al., “Yoga for Women with Metastatic Breast Cancer: Results from a Pilot Study,” Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 33 (2007): 331–41. 8. B. A. van der Kolk, et al., “Yoga as an Adjunctive Therapy for PTSD,” Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 75, no. 6 (June 2014): 559–65. 9.


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Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction by Philip Tetlock, Dan Gardner

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, availability heuristic, Black Swan, butterfly effect, cloud computing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, desegregation, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, forward guidance, Freestyle chess, fundamental attribution error, germ theory of disease, hindsight bias, index fund, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mohammed Bouazizi, Nash equilibrium, Nate Silver, obamacare, pattern recognition, performance metric, place-making, placebo effect, prediction markets, quantitative easing, random walk, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, stem cell, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wisdom of Crowds, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

The solution lay in statistics: Randomly assigning people to one group or the other would mean whatever differences there are among them should balance out if enough people participated in the experiment. Then we can confidently conclude that the treatment caused any differences in observed outcomes. It isn’t perfect. There is no perfection in our messy world. But it beats wise men stroking their chins. This seems stunningly obvious today. Randomized controlled trials are now routine. Yet it was revolutionary because medicine had never before been scientific. True, it had occasionally reaped the fruits of science like the germ theory of disease and the X-ray. And it dressed up as a science. There were educated men with impressive titles who conducted case studies and reported results in Latin-laden lectures at august universities. But it wasn’t scientific.

The rate of the development of science is not the rate at which you make observations alone but, much more important, the rate at which you create new things to test.11 It was the absence of doubt—and scientific rigor—that made medicine unscientific and caused it to stagnate for so long. Putting Medicine to the Test Unfortunately, this story doesn’t end with physicians suddenly slapping themselves on their collective forehead and putting their beliefs to experimental tests. The idea of randomized controlled trials was painfully slow to catch on and it was only after World War II that the first serious trials were attempted. They delivered excellent results. But still the physicians and scientists who promoted the modernization of medicine routinely found that the medical establishment wasn’t interested, or was even hostile to their efforts. “Too much that was being done in the name of health care lacked scientific validation,” Archie Cochrane complained about medicine in the 1950s and 1960s, and the National Health Service—the British health care system—had “far too little interest in proving and promoting what was effective.”

If crime went up, that might show the policy was useless or even harmful, or it might mean crime would have risen even more but for the beneficial effects of the policy. Naturally, politicians would claim otherwise. Those in power would say it worked; their opponents would say it failed. But nobody would really know. The politicians would be blind men arguing over the colors of the rainbow. If the government had subjected its policy “to a randomized controlled trial then we might, by now, have known its true worth and be some way ahead in our thinking,” Cochrane observed. But it hadn’t. It had just assumed that its policy would work as expected. This was the same toxic brew of ignorance and confidence that had kept medicine in the dark ages for millennia. Cochrane’s frustration is palpable in his autobiography. Why couldn’t people see that intuition alone was no basis for firm conclusions?


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Average Is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation by Tyler Cowen

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Amazon Mechanical Turk, Black Swan, brain emulation, Brownian motion, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, cosmological constant, crowdsourcing, dark matter, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deliberate practice, Drosophila, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, eurozone crisis, experimental economics, Flynn Effect, Freestyle chess, full employment, future of work, game design, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, Isaac Newton, Khan Academy, labor-force participation, Loebner Prize, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, Narrative Science, Netflix Prize, Nicholas Carr, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, reshoring, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Turing test, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, upwardly mobile, Yogi Berra

Over two million K–12 students take at least one class online. At these online schools, the degree of contact with flesh-and-blood teachers varies. Instructors might answer questions by email, phone, or videoconference, supplemented by periodic meetings, class trips, and “live,” in-the-classroom exams. It’s often for less than half the price of a traditional K–12 schooling experience. The world still awaits systematic, rigorous (randomized control trial) studies of all of these methods of learning, and it is too early to say what is working and what is not. Nonetheless, we do know two things for sure. First, very often the online methods are much cheaper and also more flexible than the previous alternatives. Second, some learners—quite possibly a minority—love the online methods. We can thus expect that online education in its various manifestations will likely represent a fair-sized chunk of the future of the sector.

We still haven’t dispensed with models, because there are a few models we believe in pretty strongly, such as that when price goes up, people usually buy less of that good or service, all other things being held equal. But those are old theories and the real action and value-add comes from the data and its handling, including data from field experiments, laboratory experiments, and from randomized control trials. The underlying models just aren’t getting that much better, and when the underlying models are more complicated, they very often are not more persuasive to the typical research economist. I would sum up the blend as follows: (a) much better data, (b) higher standards for empirical tests, and (c) lots of growth in complex theory but not matched by a corresponding growth in impact. Mathematical economics, computational economics, complexity economics, and game theory continue to grow, as we would expect of a diverse and specialized discipline, but they are if anything losing relative ground in terms of influence.

That included data about income, new jobs or businesses, failure to repay loans, and many other features of their daily economic lives. The basic question was a pretty simple one: whether the group with access to the microcredit did better. It turned out they were more likely to have started their own businesses and thus a classic paper was born. Most people see this as the most important study of microcredit, in addition to another large-scale randomized control trial from Dean Karlan at Yale University. It’s a long way from grabbing a publicly available database from a government agency, without much worrying about the quality or meaning of the numbers, and running some regressions. Setting up the entire field experiment is also a uniquely human contribution and it does not approximate any task that is replicable with smart machines. Outside of economics, a computer program will look at a lot of numbers, search for patterns in a more complex way than current empirical researchers can do, and report back the results.


pages: 280 words: 79,029

Smart Money: How High-Stakes Financial Innovation Is Reshaping Our WorldÑFor the Better by Andrew Palmer

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, algorithmic trading, Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, availability heuristic, bank run, banking crisis, Black-Scholes formula, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, call centre, Carmen Reinhart, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edmond Halley, Edward Glaeser, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, family office, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, Flash crash, Google Glasses, Gordon Gekko, high net worth, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, implied volatility, income inequality, index fund, Innovator's Dilemma, interest rate swap, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, late fees, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Network effects, Northern Rock, obamacare, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, railway mania, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, statistical model, transaction costs, Tunguska event, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, Vanguard fund, web application

., 32 Keys, Benjamin, 48 Kharroubi, Enisse, 79 Kickstarter, 172 King, Stephen, 99 Klein, David, 182 Krugman, Paul, xv Lahoud, Sal, 166 Lang, Luke, 153, 161–162 Laplanche, Renaud, 179, 184, 188, 190, 193–194, 196–197 Latency, 53 Law of large numbers, 17 Layering, 57 Left-digit bias, 46 Lehman Brothers, x, 44, 65 Lending direct, 84 marketplace, 184 payday, 200 relationship-based, 11, 151, 206–208 secured, xiv, 76 unsecured, 206 See also Loans; Peer-to-peer lending Lending Club, 172, 179–180, 182–184, 187, 189, 194–195, 197 Leonardo of Pisa (Fibonacci), 19 Lerner, Josh, 59 Lethal pandemic, risk-modeling for demographic profile, 230 exceedance-probability curve, 231–232, 232 figure 3 historical data, 228–229 infectiousness and virulence, 229–230 location of outbreak, 230–231 Leverage, 51, 70–71, 80, 186, 188 Leverage ratio, 76–77 Lewis, Michael, 57 Liber Abaci or Book of Calculation (Fibonacci), 19 LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate), 41 Liebman, Jeffrey, 98 Life expectancy government reaction to, 128–129 projections of, 124–127, 126 figure 2 ratio of young to older people, 127–128 Life-insurance policies, 142 Life-settlements industry, 142–143 Life table, 20 Limited liability, 212 Liquidity, 12–14, 39, 185–186 List, John, 109 The Little Book of Behavioral Investing (Montier), 156 Lo, Andrew, 113–115, 117–123 Loans low-documentation, 48–49 secured, 76 small business, 181, 216 student, 164, 166–167, 169–171, 182 syndicated, 41 Victory Loans, 28 See also Lending; Peer-to-Peer lending Logistic regression, 201 London, early fire insurance in, 16–17 London, Great Fire of, 16 London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), 41 Long-Term Capital Management, 123 Longevity, betting on, 143–144 Loss aversion, 136 Lotteries, 212, 213 Low-documentation loans, 48–49 Lumni, 165, 168, 175 Lustgarten, Anders, 111 Lynn, Jeff, 160–161 Mack, John, 180 Mahwah, New Jersey, 52, 53 Marginal borrowers assessment of, 216–217 behavioral finance and, 208–214 industrialization of credit, 206 microfinance and, 203 savings schemes, 209–214 small businesses, 215–219 unsecured lending to, 206 Wonga, 203, 205, 208 Marginal borrowers (continued) ZestFinance, 199, 202, 205–206 Maritime piracy, solutions to, 151–152 Maritime trade, role of in history of finance, 3, 7–8, 14, 17, 23 Market makers, 15–16, 55 MarketInvoice, 195, 207, 217–218 Marketplace lending, 184 Markowitz, Harry, 118 Massachusetts, use of inflation-protected bonds in, 26 Massachusetts, use of social-impact bonds in, 98 Matching engine, 52 Maturity transformation, 12–13, 187–188, 193 McKinsey & Company, ix, 42 Mercator Advisory Group, 203 Merrill, Charles, 28 Merrill, Douglas, 199, 201 Merrill Lynch, 28 Merton, Robert, 31, 113–114, 123–124, 129–132, 142, 145 Mian, Atif, 204 Michigan, University of, financial survey by, 134–135 Microfinance, 203 Micropayment model, 217 Microwave technology, 53 The Million Adventure, 213–214 Minsky, Hyman, 42 Minsky moment, 42 Mississippi scheme, 36 Mitchell, Justin, 166–167 Momentum Ignition, 57 Monaco, modeling risk of earthquake in, 227 Money, history of, 4–5 Money illusion, 73–74 Money laundering, 192 Money-market funds, 43, 44 Monkeys, Yale University study of loss aversion with, 136 Montier, James, 156–157 Moody, John, 24 Moody’s, 24, 235 Moore’s law, 114 Morgan Stanley, 188 Mortgage-backed securities, 49, 233 Mortgage credit by ZIP code, study of, 204 Mortgage debt, role of in 2007–2008 crisis, 69–70 Mortgage products, unsound, 36–37 Mortgage securitization, 47 Multisystemic therapy, 96 Munnell, Alicia, 129 Naked credit-default swaps, 143 Nature Biotechnology, on drug-development megafunds, 118 “Neglected Risks, Financial Innovation and Financial Fragility” (Gennaioli, Shleifer, and Vishny), 42 Network effects, 181 New York, skyscraper craze in, 74–75 New York City, prisoner-rehabilitation program in, 108 New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), 31, 52, 53, 61, 64 New York Times, Merrill Lynch ad in, 28 Noncorrelated assets, 122 Nonprofits, growth of in United States, 105–106 Northern Rock, x NYMEX, 60 NYSE Euronext, 52 NYSE (New York Stock Exchange), 31, 52, 53, 61, 64 OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), 128, 147 Oldfield, Sean, 67–68, 80–84 OnDeck, 216–218 One Service, 94–95, 105, 112 Operating expense ratio, 188–189 Options, 15, 124 Order-to-trade ratios, 63 Oregon, interest in income-share agreements, 172, 176 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 128, 147 Overtrading, 24 Packard, Norman, 60 Pandit, Vikram, 184 Park, Sun Young, 233 Partnership mortgage, 81 Pasion, 11 Pave, 166–168, 173, 175, 182 Payday lending Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, survey on, 200 information on applicants, acquisition of, 202 underwriting of, 201 PayPal, 219 Peak child, 127 Peak risk, 228 Peer-to-peer lending advantages of, 187–189 auction system, 195 big investors in, 183 borrowers, assessment of, 197 in Britain, 181 commercial mortgages, 181 CommonBond, 182, 184, 197 consumer credit, 181 diversification, 196 explained, 180 Funding Circle, 181–182, 189, 197 investors in, 195 Lending Club, 179–180, 182–184, 187, 189, 194–195, 197 network effects, 181 ordinary savers and, 184 Prosper, 181, 187, 195 RateSetter, 181, 187, 196 Relendex, 181 risk management, 195–197 securitization, 183–184, 196 Peer-to-peer lending (continued) small business loans, 181 SoFi, 184 student loans, 182 Zopa, 181, 187, 188, 195 Pensions, cost of, 125–126 Perry, Rick, 142–143 Peterborough, England, social-impact bond pilot in, 90–92, 94–95, 104–105, 112 Petri, Tom, 172 Pharmaceuticals, decline of investment in, 114–115 Piracy Reporting Centre, International Maritime Bureau, 151 Polese, Kim, 210 Poor, Henry Varnum, 24 “Portfolio Selection” (Markowitz), 118 Prediction Company, 60–61 Preferred shares, 25 Prepaid cards, 203 Present value of cash flows, 19 Prime borrowers, 197 Prince, Chuck, 50–51, 62 Principal-agent problem, 8 Prisoner rehabilitation programs, 90–91, 94–95, 98, 108, 112 Private-equity firms, 69, 85, 91, 105, 107 Projection bias, 72–73 Property banking crises and, xiv, 69 banking mistakes involving, 75–80 behavioral biases and, 72–75 dangerous characteristics of, 70–72 fresh thinking, need for, xvii, 80 investors’ systematic errors in, 74–75 perception of as safe investment, 76, 80 Prosper, 181, 187, 195 Provisioning funds, 187 Put options, 9, 82 Quants, 19, 63, 113 QuickBooks, 218 Quote stuffing, 57 Raffray, André-François, 144 Railways, affect of on finance, 23–25 Randomized control trials (RCTs), 101 Raphoen, Christoffel, 15–16 Raphoen, Jan, 15–16 RateSetter, 181, 187, 196 RCTs (randomized control trials), 101 Ready for Zero, 210–211 Rectangularization, 125, 126 figure 2 Regulation NMS, 61 Reinhart, Carmen, 35 Reinsurance, 224 Relendex, 181 Rentes viagères, 20 Repurchase “repo” transactions, 15, 185 Research-backed obligations, 119 Reserve Primary Fund, 44 Retirement, funding for anchoring effect, 137–138 annuities, 139 auto-enrollment in pension schemes, 135 auto-escalation, 135–136 conventional funding, 127–128 decumulation, 138–139 government reaction to increased longevity, 128–129 home equity, 139–140 life expectancy, projections of, 124–127, 126 figure 2 life insurance policies, cash-surrender value of, 142 personal retirement savings, 128–129, 132–133 replacement rate, 125 reverse mortgage, 140–142 savings cues, experiment with, 137 SmartNest, 129–131 Reverse mortgages, 140–142 Risk-adjusted returns, 118 Risk appetite, 116 Risk assessment, 24, 45, 77–78, 208 Risk aversion, 116, 215 Risk-based capital, 77 Risk-based pricing model, 176 Risk management, 55, 117–118, 123, 195–197 Risk Management Solutions, 222 Risk sharing, 8, 82 Risk-transfer instrument, 226 Risk weights, 77–78 Rogoff, Kenneth, 35 “The Role of Government in Education” (Friedman), 165 Roman Empire business corporation in, 7 financial crisis in, 36 forerunners of banks in, 11 maritime insurance in, 8 Rotating Savings and Credit Associations (ROSCAs), 209–210 Roulette wheel, use of in experiment on anchoring, 138 Royal Bank of Scotland, 186 Rubio, Marco, 172 Russia, mortgage market in, 67 S-curve, in diffusion of innovations, 45 Salmon, Felix, 155 Samurai bonds, 27 Satsuma Rebellion (1877), 27 Sauter, George, 58 Save to Win, 214 Savings-and-loan crisis in US (1990s), 30 Savings cues, experiment with, 137 Scared Straight social program, 101 Scholes, Myron, 31, 123–124 Science, Technology, and Industry Scoreboard of OECD, 147 Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), 54, 56, 57, 58, 64 Securities markets, 14 Securitization, xi, 20, 37–38, 117–122, 183–184, 196, 236 Seedrs, 160–161 Sellaband, 159 Shared equity, 80–84 Shared-equity mortgage, 84 Shepard, Chris, xii–xiii Shiller, Robert, xv–xvi, 242 Shleifer, Andrei, 42, 44 Short termism, 58 SIBs.

Job-training programs, for example, often focus on inputs such as the number of participants and outputs such as the number of graduates from a scheme, rather than on the numbers who secure employment. That is like measuring the number of widgets a factory produces in an hour, but not how many of them are sold. The result is that money—a lot of money—is being pumped into programs that are not actually delivering decent results. Between 1990 and 2010, ten federal government social programs in the United States were evaluated using randomized control trials (RCTs), a method of randomly assigning people between one group whose members are receiving certain services and another group whose members are not. Measuring the difference in outcomes between the two tells you how useful a specific program is. Nine of the ten federal programs were found to have weak or no positive effects: they were a waste of taxpayers’ money.4 Some initiatives actually end up doing harm.


pages: 240 words: 65,363

Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

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Albert Einstein, Anton Chekhov, autonomous vehicles, Barry Marshall: ulcers, call centre, Cass Sunstein, colonial rule, Edward Glaeser, food miles, Gary Taubes, income inequality, Internet Archive, Isaac Newton, medical residency, microbiome, prediction markets, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, Scramble for Africa, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Tony Hsieh, transatlantic slave trade, éminence grise

How often did they run? One executive told us, with obvious pride, that the company had bought newspaper inserts every single Sunday for the past twenty years in 250 markets across the United States. So how could they tell whether these ads were effective? They couldn’t. With no variation whatsoever, it was impossible to know. What if, we said, the company ran an experiment to find out? In science, the randomized control trial has been the gold standard of learning for hundreds of years—but why should scientists have all the fun? We described an experiment the company might run. They could select 40 major markets across the country and randomly divide them into two groups. In the first group, the company would keep buying newspaper ads every Sunday. In the second group, they’d go totally dark—not a single ad.

., as quitter, 208–9 eating competitions, 53–61 economic approach, 9 economics: cause and effect in, 26–27 free disposal in, 88 Nobel Prize for, 25n predictions in, 25–27 economy: and crime, 68, 207 and religion, 72–73 education: and poverty, 75 and terrorists, 171 education reform, 50–52, 91 Einstein, Albert, 93 Eisen, Jonathan, 83 embezzlement, corporate, 90 Emperor’s new clothes, 88 Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure, The (Epstein), 184–85 energy conservation, 112–15 “entrepreneurs of error,” 22 environment, and crime, 69 Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), 132 Epstein, Steve, 184–85 error, entrepreneurs of, 22 ethics, failures in, 184–85 Europe, capitalism in, 73 evanescent field effect, 195 excellence, practice leading to, 96 expectations, 8, 63–64, 67, 102 experiments: artificial nature of, 40–41 and brainstorming, 193 in cause and effect, 35–37, 39 evanescent field effect in, 195 expert knowledge in, 39 extrapolation algorithm in, 24 feedback in, 38–47, 192–93 field, 41 Freakonomics, 200–205 on human beings, 81–82 in Intellectual Ventures, 193–94 laboratory, 40–41 in microbes, 84–86 natural, 40 on potential inventions, 193–96 randomized control trials, 37, 39 in social issues, 39–40 wine quality, 42–47 experts: dart-throwing chimps vs., 24 outside their fields of competence, 27–28 practice to become, 96 predicting the future, 23 in scientific experimentation, 39 seriousness of, 96 extrapolation algorithm, 24 eyeglasses, 92n facial hair, 204 facts, opinion vs., 20 failure: celebrating, 193, 195–96 ethical, 184–85 feedback from, 192–93 forecasting, 198–99 of O-rings, 197, 198 premortem on, 199 as victory, 194 false positives, 158–59, 161, 162 famine, causes of, 66–67 fat, eating, 182–83 fecal transplants, 85–86 feedback: bread baking, 34–35 in experiments, 38–47 gathering, 35–38, 62 and learning, 34–38 voting, 35 financial relationships, 125–26, 130 focus, 102 folklore, 78, 80 food prices, 107–8 fortune-tellers, 31 Franklin, Aretha, 208 Freakonomics, 67, 69 Freakonomics Experiments, 200–205 Freaks: becoming, 211 having fun, 95 free disposal, 88 Fryer, Roland, 75–77 fun, 95–98 and children, 96, 100 of Freaks, 95 in music, 208–9 trickery as, 152 work as, 97, 109, 129, 206–8 writing books, 209 gambling, online, 99–100 game theory, 142–43 gamification, 96 gaming the system, 135 genetic racial differences, 77 Germany: Nazi Party in, 73n religion in, 70–73 schoolteachers in, 180–81 Glaeser, Edward, 22 Glewwe, Paul, 91 global warming, 168–71 goals, unattainable, 199–200 “go fever,” 197 Goldstein, Robin, 43–47 golf, 205–6 Good Samaritan laws, 108 Google, and driverless car, 174–76 Great Recession, 68 greenhouse gases, 131–33 guilt, test of, 144–49 gullibility, 102, 159–61 gun laws, 68 hacking, 177 Haganah, 152 “hammers,” 102 happiness: and marriage, 8–9 and quitting, 201, 204–5 HCFC-22, 132 health care: in Britain, 14–16 causes of illness, 83, 85 and folklore, 78, 80 and poverty, 75 ulcers, 78–86 heart disease, blacks with, 75, 77 hedge funds, and taxes, 70 Helicobacter pylori, 80–83 herd mentality: and conventional wisdom, 10 and incentives, 113–15, 172 Herley, Cormac, 157, 159–61 Herron, Tim “Lumpy,” 206n Hitler, Adolf, 189, 210 homicide rates, falling, 67–69 hot-dog-eating contest, 53–61 Hseih, Tony, 151 human body: as a machine, 95 complexity of, 78, 94–95 Hussein, Saddam, 28 hydrofluorocarbon-23 (HFC-23), 131–33 ideas: cooling-off period for, 88 generating, 87–88 junkyard as source of, 94 sorting bad from good, 88 ideology, 172 “I don’t know”: cost of saying, 29 entrepreneurs of error, 22 extrapolation algorithm, 24 and impulse to investigate, 47–48 reluctance to say, 20, 28, 39 as war prevention, 28 ignorance, 168–69 incentives, 105–35 backfiring, 131–34 bribes, 105–6 cash bounties, 133 charity, 117–25 communal, 7, 29 of customers, 128–30 designing, 115, 135 herd-mentality, 112–15, 172 and lying or cheating, 143 as manipulation, 134 money, 107–11, 113, 133 moral, 112–16, 135 for predicting the future, 29–30 social, 112, 113 true, 111–15 understanding, 8 at work, 108–9 income gap, 72–73 India: cobra effect in, 133 pollution in, 132 indulgences, sale of, 70 Industrial Revolution, 13 inmates, freeing, 40 innovation, risks in, 193 insults, 180–81 Intellectual Ventures, 193–94 Internet: predictions about, 26 scams on, 156–58 inventions, 193–95 investigation, impulse of, 47 Iraq War, 28 Israel, bullet factory in, 152–54 Italy, philanthropy in, 73 Janus, Tim “Eater X,” 61 Japan: adoptees in, 1n eating contests in, 55–56 manners in, 57 Jewish Brigade, 153 job application process, 149–52 “Jump” (Van Halen), 138 Kahneman, Daniel, 172 Keegan, John, 210 Kissinger, Henry A., 127 Klein, Gary, 199 knowledge: dogmatic, 25 faking, 22–26, 28–29, 47 and feedback, 34–38 “I don’t know,” 20, 28, 29, 47–48 learned from parents, 50 opinion vs., 20 Kobayashi, Takeru “Kobi,” 52–64, 140n Kobayashi Shake, 59 Krugman, Paul, 25 Langley, John, 207n learning, and feedback, 34–38 Leeson, Peter, 146–47 Lester, David, 33–34 letting go, 210 Levitt, Steven D., as quitter, 205–8 licensing, 51 life insurance, and terrorists, 163–65 limits: accepting or rejecting, 62, 63–64 artificial, 63, 64 lottery: no-lose, 98–99 state monopolies, 99 loved-one relationships, 125–26 Luther, Martin, 70–72 M&M’s: bribing a child with, 105–6 in contract clause, 141–42 magic: and adults, 102–3 and children, 101–4 double lift, 101–2 and perception, 101 watching from below, 103–4 manipulation, 134 Mao Tse-tung, 127 marathons, 204–5 marriage, and happiness, 8–9 Marshall, Barry, 79–83, 84–85, 94–95 MBA, cost of, 191 McAfee anti-virus software, 159 McAuliffe, Christa, 197 McDonald, Allan, 197–98 measurement, 8 medicine: blockbuster drugs, 79 causes of illness, 83 and folklore, 78, 80 heart disease, 75, 77 tradition in, 82 ulcers, 78–86, 94–95 memories, negative, 180 Meng Zhao, 91 Metcalfe’s law, 26 Mexico City, pollution in, 131 microbial cloud, 83 middle ground, choosing, 7 milk necklace, weight of, 107 money: as incentive, 107–11, 113, 133 saving, 97–99 spending, 98–99 throwing good after bad, 191 monopolies, lotteries as, 99 moral compass, 31–34 and suicide, 32–34 moral incentives, 112–16, 135 Morton Thiokol, 197–98 Moses, story of, 187 Mullaney, Brian, 117–25, 130 Myhrvold, Nathan, 195 name-calling, 180–81 NASA, 197–98 Nathan (prophet), 187–88 Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest, 53–61 National Health Service (NHS), 14–16 natural experiments, 40 negative memories, 180 negative thinking, 64 Newton, Sir Isaac, 89 New York Times, 209 Nicklaus, Jack, 205 Nigerian scam, 154–61, 162 Nixon, Richard M., 127 Nobel Prizes, 25n, 83 no one left to blame, 33–34 “nudge” movement, 172 obesity, 107–8, 182–83 obvious, 65, 92–93, 100 Ohtahara syndrome, 14–15 online gambling, 99–100 Operation Smile, 118–19 opinion, 10, 20, 171–73 opportunity cost, 191–92, 199 overthinking, 103 Palestine, and bullet factory, 152–54 parents: and crime prevention, 70 learning from, 50 and traffic accidents, 178 Park, Albert, 91 patents, 193 Peace of Augsburg, 71 penalty kick (soccer), 3–7, 29 perception, 101 peritonitis, 79 perspective, 104 persuasion: difficulty of, 167–73 it’s not me, 173 name-calling, 180–81 new technology, 174–77 “nudge” movement, 172 opponent’s strength, 177–79 perfect solution, 173–74 storytelling, 181–88 Peru, slavery in, 74 Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, 115–16 philanthropy, 73 Ping-Pong, 127 planos (glasses with plain lenses), 92n policymakers, 97 political predictions, 23–24, 171 pollution, 131–33, 176 pooling equilibrium, 143 Porter, Roy, 78 postmortem, 199 poverty: causes of, 66 health and education, 75 practice, importance of, 96 predictions: accuracy of, 24 difficult, 23, 176 dogmatism in, 25 economic, 25–27 end of the world, 30 inaccurate, punishments for, 30–31 incentives for, 29–30 in politics, 23–24, 171 of stock markets, 24–25, 29–30 of store opening, 196–97 by witches, 30–31 preferences, declared vs. revealed, 112 premortem, anonymous, 199 pretense, 104 priestly rigging, 146–47, 148–49, 152, 154 private benefit vs. greater good, 7, 29 private-equity firms, 70 prize-linked savings (PLS) account, 98–99 problem solving: asking the wrong questions in, 49–50, 62 attacking the noisy part, 51 barriers to, 63–64 in complex issues, 23, 35, 66–67, 89–90 difficulty of, 2 in eating contests, 53–61 economic approach to, 9 education reform, 50–52 experiments in, see experiments generating ideas, 87–88 incentives understood in, 8 and moral compass, 31–34 negative thinking in, 64 obvious cause, 65, 92–93 “perfect” solution, 173–74 redefining the problem, 52, 61–62 “right” vs.

“wrong” way of, 7–8 thinking small, 88–92 Protestant Reformation, 70 Protestant work ethic, 72–73 public policy, 97 punishment, 30–31 pushups, 64 questions: answering “I don’t know,” 20, 22, 24, 28, 29, 39, 47 cause-and-effect, 23 from children, 87 complex, 22, 23, 47–48 in decision making, 202–4 from readers, 1–2 uncomfortable, 167 wrong, asking, 49–50, 62 quitting, 190–210 benefits of, 200 bias against, 191, 192, 205 Freakonomics Experiments, 200–205 and happiness, 201, 204–5 letting go, 210 opportunity cost vs., 191–92 sunk costs vs., 191, 192 unattainable goals, 199–200 racial difference, genetic, 77 randomized control trials, 37 Rapture, 39 Red Herring magazine, 25 relationships: authority-figure, 125 changing, 125–30, 135 collaborative, 125, 130, 134 decision-making about, 202–5 diplomatic, 126–27 financial, 125–26, 130 loved-one, 125–26 us-versus-them, 125 religion: and the economy, 72–73 in Germany, 70–73 and income gap, 72 R.E.M., 208 Right Profile, The, 208–9 right vs. wrong, 31–32 risk, as part of work, 194 risky behavior, 90–91 rock band, 208–9 Roe v.


pages: 623 words: 448,848

Food Allergy: Adverse Reactions to Foods and Food Additives by Dean D. Metcalfe

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Albert Einstein, bioinformatics, epigenetics, impulse control, life extension, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mouse model, pattern recognition, phenotype, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, statistical model, stem cell

Acta Paediatr 2000;89:165–71. 103 Abrahamsson T, Jakobsson T, Fagerås Böttcher M, et al. Probiotics in prevention of IgE-associated eczema: a double blind randomised placebo-controlled trial. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2007;119:1174–80. 104 Taylor AL, Dunstan JA, Prescott SL. Probiotic supplementation for the first 6 months of life fails to reduce the risk of atopic dermatitis and increases the risk of allergen sensitization in high-risk children: a randomized controlled trial. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2007;119:184–91. PA RT 2 Adverse Reactions to Food Antigens: Clinical Science Food Allergy: Adverse Reactions to Foods and Food Additives, 4th edition Edited by Dean D. Metcalfe, Hugh A. Sampson, and Ronald A. Simon © 2008 Blackwell Publishing, ISBN: 978-1-405-15129-0 8 CHAPTER 8 The Spectrum of Allergic Reactions to Foods Stacie M. Jones and A. Wesley Burks KEY CONCEPTS • Immunoglobulin E-mediated food allergy is the most common and well-recognized form of food hypersensitivity. • Allergic reactions to food range from mild to life threatening. • Risk factors for life-threatening anaphylaxis are important to recognize. • Atopic dermatitis and asthma are allergic conditions in which hypersensitivity to a food(s) may play a role in disease activity. • A subset of patients with eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders may have food allergy-induced symptoms.

Comparisons made at 1–2-year and 3–4-year follow-ups with 12 control subjects who did not have food allergy and 5 subjects with food allergy who were noncompliant with their diet showed that the 17 food-allergic subjects with appropriate dietary restriction demonstrated highly significant improvement in their AD compared with the control groups. The amount of time for resolution of their food hypersensitivity was also reduced. Lever et al. [42] performed a randomized, controlled trial of an egg exclusion diet in 55 children who presented to a dermatology clinic with AD and possible egg sensitivity identified by radioallergosorbent (RAST) testing before randomization. True egg sensitivity was confirmed by DBPCFC after the trial. The 55 children were randomized either to a 4-week regimen in which mothers received general advice on the care of AD and additional specific advice from a dietician about an egg elimination diet (diet group), or to a control group in which only general advice was provided.

Allergy and intolerance to flavouring agents in atopic dermatitis in young children. Allerg Immunol (Paris) 1994;26:204–10. 116 Wuthrich B, Kagi MK, Hafner J. Disulfite-induced acute intermittent urticaria with vasculitis. Dermatology 1993;187:290–2. 117 Wuthrich B. Adverse reactions to food additives. Ann Allergy 1993;71:379–84. 118 Nettis E, Colanardi MC, Ferrannini A, Tursi A. Sodium benzoate-induced repeated episodes of acute urticaria/ angio-oedema: randomized controlled trial. Br J Dermatol 2004;151:898–902. 119 Rance F, Dutau G, Abbal M. Mustard allergy in children. Allergy 2000;55:496–500. 120 Figueroa J, Blanco C, Dumpierrez AG, et al. Mustard allergy confirmed by double-blind placebo-controlled food challenges: clinical features and cross-reactivity with mugwort pollen and plant-derived foods. Allergy 2005;60:48–55. 121 Hansen TK, Bindslev-Jensen C. Codfish allergy in adults.


The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good by William Easterly

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airport security, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, bank run, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, clean water, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, Edward Glaeser, European colonialism, failed state, farmers can use mobile phones to check market prices, George Akerlof, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, income per capita, Indoor air pollution, invisible hand, Kenneth Rogoff, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, land tenure, microcredit, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, purchasing power parity, randomized controlled trial, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, structural adjustment programs, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, War on Poverty, Xiaogang Anhui farmers

A World Bank study of evaluation in 2000 began with the confession, “Despite the billions of dollars spent on development assistance each year, there is still very little known about the actual impact of projects on the poor.22 After years of pressure, the IMF created an Independent Evaluation Office in 2001. The World Bank in 2004 laudably created a Development Impact Evaluation Task Force. The task force will use the randomized controlled trial methodology discussed in chapter 2 to assess the impact of selected interventions on the intended beneficiaries. The task force has started two dozen new evaluations in five areas (conditional cash transfers in low-income countries; school-based management; contract teachers; use of information as an accountability tool for schools; and slum upgrading programs). It remains to be seen if the evaluation results change the incentives to do effective programs in the operational side of the World Bank.

This includes the ten-step M&E program (step 3: “NAC [National AIDS Councils] and stakeholders engage in an intensive participatory process to build ownership and buy-in, particularly for the overall M&E system and programme monitoring”). There is also the list of thirty-four indicators (none of which involves monitoring “core transmitters”), the nineteen-point terms of reference for the M&E consultant to the NAC, and the “summary terms of reference for specialized programme activity monitoring entity.” The accepted scientific standard for any program evaluation, the randomized controlled trial, did not make it into the manual. The Kitty Genovese Effect Winston Moseley killed Kitty Genovese, a twenty-eight-year-old bar manager, in Queens, New York, in 1964. Her murder is the first news story I remember from my childhood. As Moseley first stabbed Kitty, neighbors heard her screams but didn’t call the police. Moseley drove away and then came back and stabbed her some more, till she died.

Then hold the aid agencies accountable for their results by having truly independent evaluation of their efforts. Perhaps the aid agencies should each set aside a portion of their budgets (such as the part now wasted on self-evaluation) to contribute to an international independent evaluation group made up of staff trained in the scientific method from the rich and poor countries, who will evaluate random samples of each aid agency’s efforts. Evaluation will involve randomized controlled trials where feasible, less pure statistical analysis if not, and will at least be truly independent, even when randomized trials and statistical analysis are not feasible. Experiment with different methods of simply asking the poor if they are better off. Mobilize the altruistic people in rich countries to put heat on the agencies to make their money actually reach the poor, and to get angry when the aid does not reach the poor.


pages: 314 words: 101,034

Every Patient Tells a Story by Lisa Sanders

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data acquisition, discovery of penicillin, high batting average, index card, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, natural language processing, pattern recognition, randomized controlled trial, Ronald Reagan

Instead a small but vocal group of doctors and patients refused to accept these results, refused even to accept the designation of Post–Lyme Disease syndrome. They clung, instead, to “chronic Lyme disease” and insisted that these symptoms did reflect an ongoing infection that warranted continuing treatment with antibiotics. They countered the randomized controlled trials with research of their own, which often showed improvement in patients given antibiotics. But none of these studies compared the antibiotics against a placebo. The randomized controlled trials showed that while patients getting antibiotics did improve, so did those getting the saltwater placebo. Studies done without the placebo had no way of telling whether the antibiotics were really effective or if the improvement was due to something in the normal ebbs and flows of any human condition.

That first look through the skin, into the inner structures of the living body, laid the groundwork for the computerized axial tomography (CT) scan in the 1970s and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the 1990s. Blood tests have exploded in number and accuracy, providing doctors with tools to help make a definitive diagnosis in an entire alphabet of diseases from anemias to zoonoses. Better diagnosis led to better therapies. For centuries, physicians had little more than compassion with which to help patients through their illnesses. The development of the randomized controlled trial and other statistical tools made it possible to distinguish between therapies that worked and those that had little to offer beyond the body’s own recuperative powers. Medicine entered the twenty-first century stocked with a pharmacopeia of potent and effective tools to treat a broad range of diseases. Much of the research of the past few decades has examined which therapies to use and how to use them.


pages: 433 words: 106,048

The End of Illness by David B. Agus M. D.

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Danny Hillis, discovery of penicillin, double helix, epigenetics, germ theory of disease, Google Earth, impulse control, information retrieval, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, Murray Gell-Mann, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, randomized controlled trial, risk tolerance, Steve Jobs, the scientific method

I could take up the next tens of pages of this book outlining similar studies that have further confirmed what I’ve long thought to be true: vitamins don’t live up to the hype. But for fear of inundating you with too many academically minded summaries, let me briefly mention just a couple more that are more recent than those already described: • In 2010, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality published a review of sixty-three randomized, controlled trials (again, the gold-standard research method) on multivitamins, finding that multivitamins did nothing to prevent cancer or heart disease in most populations. The only exception occurred in developing countries where nutritional deficiencies are widespread. • In 2009, scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, published a paper after following 160,000 postmenopausal women for about ten years.

Cancerous cells could already have started to propagate, at which point the inherent DNA repair system is no longer effective. It cannot fix the cancer. The clear association between inflammation and cancer is real and has many examples. One of the most exciting recent studies was published in the June 22, 2010, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The analysis of two dozen randomized, controlled trials that were studying therapies for cholesterol found that each 10 mg/dl higher increment of HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) was associated with a relative 36 percent lower risk of cancer. The relationship persisted even after adjusting for LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), age, body mass index (BMI), diabetes, sex, and smoking status. The researchers were quick to note that these association studies cannot prove cause and effect, although it’s been suggested that HDL may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that could potentially fight cancer.

Rosuvastatin in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease among patients with low levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and elevated high-sensitivity C-reactive protein: rationale and design of the JUPITER trial. Circulation 108, no. 19 (November 11, 2003): 2292–97. Rothwell, P.M., et al. Effect of daily aspirin on long-term risk of death due to cancer: analysis of individual patient data from randomised trials. Lancet 377, no. 9759 (January 1, 2011): 31–41. Epub December 6, 2010. Sanders, K.M., et al. Annual high-dose oral vitamin D and falls and fractures in older women: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Association 303, no. 18 (2010): 1815–22. doi: 10.1001/jama.2010 .594. Schrödinger, E. What Is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univeristy Press, 1944. Schürks, M., R.J. Glynn, P.M. Rist, C. Tzourio, and T. Kurth. Effects of vitamin E on stroke subtypes: meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ 341 (November 4, 2010): c5702. doi: 10.1136/bmj.c5702.


pages: 226 words: 59,080

Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science by Dani Rodrik

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airline deregulation, Albert Einstein, bank run, barriers to entry, Bretton Woods, butterfly effect, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collective bargaining, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, distributed generation, Edward Glaeser, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial deregulation, financial innovation, floating exchange rates, fudge factor, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, Growth in a Time of Debt, income inequality, inflation targeting, informal economy, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, liquidity trap, loss aversion, low skilled workers, market design, market fundamentalism, minimum wage unemployment, oil shock, open economy, price stability, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, quantitative easing, randomized controlled trial, rent control, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, school vouchers, South Sea Bubble, spectrum auction, The Market for Lemons, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, trade route, ultimatum game, University of East Anglia, unorthodox policies, Washington Consensus, white flight

In development economics, new evidence has led to policy innovations in health, education, and finance that have the potential to improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people. Another way we can observe the transformation of the discipline is by looking at the new areas of research that have flourished in recent decades. Three of these are particularly noteworthy: behavioral economics, randomized controlled trials (RCTs), and institutions. What’s striking is that all these areas have been greatly influenced, and in fact stimulated, by fields from outside economics—psychology, medicine, and history, respectively. Their growth disproves the claim that economics is insular and ignores the contributions of other cognate disciplines. In some ways, the rise of behavioral economics marks the greatest departure for standard economics because it undercuts the benchmark, almost canonical assumption of economic models: that individuals are rational.

., 101n pressure groups, 187 price ceilings, 28 price controls, 28–29, 94–97, 150, 185 price elasticities, 14, 180–81 price fixing, 179 prices: in bubbles, 152–58 business cycles and, 125–26, 129, 132 consumers and, 119, 129 in efficient-markets hypothesis, 157 minimum wages relative to, 143 Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School at, 30 principal-agent models, 155 Principle of Comparative Advantage, 52–55, 59–60, 139, 170 prison cell upgrades, 192, 194 prisoners’ dilemma, 14–15, 20, 21, 61–62, 187, 200 privatization, 98, 161, 162 production functions, 119, 122 productivity, 120–21, 122–25, 141 Progresa, 4, 105–6 property rights, 87, 88, 98, 205 Prospera, 4, 105 “Protection and Real Wages” (Stolper and Samuelson), 58n, 140n public spending: business cycles and, 128–29, 131–32 economic growth and, 76–78, 114 quantitative easing, 135 Rajan, Raghu, 154 randomized controlled trials (RCTs), 202–4, 205 randomized field experiments, 105–7, 173, 202–5 rational bubbles, 154 rational choice, 33n rational expectations, 132 rationality postulate, 202–3 rationing, 64–65, 69, 95 Reagan, Ronald W., 49 real business cycle (RBC) models, 101n reasoning, rule-based vs. case-based forms of, 72 Recession, Great, 115, 134–35, 152–59, 184 recessions: fiscal stimulus and, 74–75, 128, 130, 131–37, 149, 150, 171 inflation and (stagflation), 130–31 reform fatigue, 88 regulation, 143, 155, 158–59, 160–61, 165–66, 208–9 Reinhart, Carmen, 76–78 relativity, general, 113 rents, 119, 120, 149, 150 revenue sharing, 124 reverse causal inference, 115 Ricard, Samuel, 196 Ricardo, David, 52–53, 139, 196 risk, 110, 141, 165 Great Recession and, 153–54, 155, 158, 159 Robinson, James, 206 Rodrik, Dani, 35n Rogoff, Kenneth, 76–78 Rubinstein, Ariel, 20 rule of law, 205 Russia, 166 Rustichini, Aldo, 71n Ryan, Stephen, 107 sales tax, 180–81 Samuelson, Paul, 31, 51–52, 53, 58n, 125, 140n Sandel, Michael, 189, 191–92, 194 Sargent, Tom, 131–32, 134 UC graduation speech and, 147–48 savings: globalization and, 165, 166 in Great Recession, 153 investment and, 129–30, 165–67 scale economies, 108, 122 Schelling, Thomas, 33, 42, 62 Schultz, Theodore W., 75n Schumacher, E.


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Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty by Peter Singer

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Branko Milanovic, Cass Sunstein, clean water, experimental economics, illegal immigration, Martin Wolf, microcredit, Peter Singer: altruism, pre–internet, purchasing power parity, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, Silicon Valley, Thomas Malthus, ultimatum game, union organizing

Proving Effectiveness Long before Holden Karnofsky and Elie Hassenfeld wondered which organizations would make the best use of their donations, Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology founded the Jameel Poverty Action Lab on the premise that we can and should use scientific methods to find out which aid projects work. As the gold standard of scientific rigor they take the random controlled trial used for testing the efficacy of new drugs. In such a trial, half the patients are randomly assigned to receive the new drug, while the other half get a placebo. Randomization ensures that the two groups are not different in any way that could affect the course of their illness or the impact of the drug. We have just seen an example of these methods—the study of the effect of loans given by the South African microfinance organization—which was carried out by associates of the Poverty Action Lab.

Thanks to controlled trials, we know that providing drugs to kill parasitical worms in Kenyan children improves learning, that education in condom use reduces the likelihood of people getting AIDS, and that offering mothers in India a cheap bag of lentils means that more of them will bring in their children for immunization.12 So why don’t we test all poverty programs this way? One reason is the cost of administering the trials. Oxfam America found that a random controlled trial of one of its microcredit programs in West Africa would cost almost as much as the project itself. The money would have come out of the budget for the project, with the result that microcredit could be extended to only half as many villages as would otherwise be possible. Oxfam did not go ahead with the randomized trial. This is an understandable decision, but it would probably pay, over the long term, for organizations to set aside some money specifically for proper studies of the effectiveness of their programs.


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The Laws of Medicine: Field Notes From an Uncertain Science by Siddhartha Mukherjee

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Atul Gawande, cognitive dissonance, medical residency, randomized controlled trial, retrograde motion, stem cell

A randomized study might make particular conclusions about the effectiveness of a medicine—but in truth it has only judged that effectiveness in the subset of people who were randomized. The power of the experiment is critically dependent on its strong limits—and this is the very thing that makes it limited. The experiment may be perfect, but whether it is generalizable is a question. The reverential status of randomized, controlled trials in medicine is its own source of bias. The BCG vaccine against tuberculosis was shown to have a potent protective effect in a randomized trial, but the effectiveness of the vaccine seems to decrease almost linearly as we move in latitude from the North to the South—where, incidentally, TB is the most prevalent (we still don’t understand the basis for this effect, although genetic variation is the most obvious culprit).


pages: 235 words: 62,862

Utopia for Realists: The Case for a Universal Basic Income, Open Borders, and a 15-Hour Workweek by Rutger Bregman

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autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Bartolomé de las Casas, Berlin Wall, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Branko Milanovic, cognitive dissonance, computer age, conceptual framework, credit crunch, David Graeber, Diane Coyle, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, full employment, George Gilder, happiness index / gross national happiness, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, income inequality, invention of gunpowder, James Watt: steam engine, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, low skilled workers, means of production, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, minimum wage unemployment, Mont Pelerin Society, Nathan Meyer Rothschild: antibiotics, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, precariat, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, stem cell, Steven Pinker, telemarketer, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, wage slave, War on Poverty, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, wikimedia commons, women in the workforce, working poor, World Values Survey

This is the first written record of a comparative experiment in which a hypothesis is tested and a control group is used. A few centuries later, these events would be immortalized in the biggest bestseller ever: the Bible (see Daniel 1:1–16). But it would still be several hundred years before this kind of comparative research came to be considered the scientific gold standard. These days, we would call this a randomized controlled trial, or RCT. If you were a medical researcher, you would proceed as follows: Using a lottery system, you divide people with the same health problem into two groups. One gets the medicine you want to test and the other gets a placebo.7 In the case of bloodletting, the first comparative experiment was published in 1836 by the French doctor Pierre Louis, who had treated some pneumonia sufferers by immediately relieving them of a few pints of blood and others by holding off on the leeches for a few days.

This is nothing less than a whole new approach to economics. The randomistas don’t think in terms of models. They don’t believe humans are rational actors. Instead, they assume we are quixotic creatures, sometimes foolish and sometimes astute, and by turns afraid, altruistic, and self-centered. And this approach appears to yield considerably better results. So why did it take so long to figure this out? Well, several reasons. Doing randomized controlled trials in poverty-stricken countries is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. Often, local organizations are less than eager to cooperate, not least because they’re worried the findings will prove them ineffective. Take the case of microcredit. Development aid trends come and go, from “good governance” to “education” to the ill-fated “microcredit” at the start of this century. Microcredit’s reckoning came in the form of our old friend Esther Duflo, who set up a fatal RCT in Hyderabad, India, and demonstrated that, all the heartwarming anecdotes notwithstanding, there is no hard evidence that microcredit is effective at combating poverty and illness.13 Handing out cash works way better.


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The Complete Thyroid Book by Kenneth Ain, M. Sara Rosenthal

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follow your passion, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, place-making, placebo effect, Post-materialism, post-materialism, randomized controlled trial, upwardly mobile

“Beta-Adrenergic Blockade for the Treatment of Hyperthyroidism.” The American Journal of Medicine 93, no. 1 (1992): 61–68. Gharib, H. “Changing Concepts in the Diagnosis and Management of Thyroid Nodules.” Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America 26, no. 4 (1997): 777–800. Grozinsky-Glasberg, S., et al. “Thyroxine-Triiodothyronine Combination Therapy Versus Thyroxine Monotherapy for Clinical Hypothyroidism: Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (2006) 91:2592–99. Gruters, A., H. Biebermann, and H. Krude. “Neonatal Thyroid Disorders.” Hormone Research 59, suppl. 1 (2003): 24–29. Hegedus, L., S. J. Bonnema, and F. N. Bennedbaek. “Management of Simple Nodular Goiter: Current Status and Future Perspectives.” Endocrine Reviews 24, no. 1 (2003): 102–32. Henderson, L., Q. Y. Yue, C.

Greenwood, and C. M. Dayan. “Psychological Well-Being in Patients on ‘Adequate’ Doses of L-Thyroxine: Results of a Large, Controlled Community-Based Questionnaire Study.” Clinical Endocrinology 57, no. 5 (November 2002): 577–78. Sawka, A.M., et al. “Does a Combination Regimen of T4 and T3 Improve Depressive Symptoms Better than T4 Alone in Patients with Hypothyroidism? Results of a Double-Blind, Randomized Controlled Trial.” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 88, no. 10 (2003): 4551–55. Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the American Meal. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2001. Siegmund, W., K. Spieker, A. I. Weike, T. Giessmann, C. Modess, T. Dabers, G. Kirsch, E. Sanger, G. Engel, A. O. Hamm, M. Nauck, and W. Meng. “Replacement Therapy with Levothyroxine Plus Triiodothyronine (Bioavailable Molar Ratio 14:1) Is Not Superior to Thyroxine Alone to Improve Well-Being and Cognitive Performance in Hypothyroidism.”

Journal of the American Medical Association 273, no. 10 (1995): 808–12. Toft, Anthony. “Thyroid Hormone Replacement—One Hormone or Two?” (editorial). The New England Journal of Medicine 340, no. 6 (February 11, 1999): 468–70. Walsh, John, et al. “Combined Thyroxine/Liothyronine Treatment Does Not Improve Well-Being, Quality of Life or Cognitive Function Compared to Thyroxine Alone: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Patients with Primary Hypothyroidism.” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 88, no. 10 (2003): 4543–50. Weiss, R. E., and S. Refetoff. “Resistance to Thyroid Hormone.” Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders 1, no. 1–2 (2000): 97–108. Whitley, R. J., and K. B. Ain. “Thyroglobulin: A Specific Serum Marker for the Management of Thyroid Carcinoma.” Clinics in Laboratory Medicine 24, no. 1 (2004): 29–47.


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Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert D. Putnam

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correlation does not imply causation, deindustrialization, demographic transition, desegregation, ending welfare as we know it, epigenetics, full employment, George Akerlof, helicopter parent, impulse control, income inequality, index card, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Occupy movement, Ralph Waldo Emerson, randomized controlled trial, school choice, Socratic dialogue, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the built environment, upwardly mobile, Walter Mischel, white flight, working poor

Byron Egeland, “Taking Stock: Childhood Emotional Maltreatment and Developmental Psychopathology,” Child Abuse & Neglect 33 (January 2009): 22–26. Egeland was building on the classic work in attachment theory by Mary Ainsworth, “Attachment as Related to Mother-Infant Interaction,” in Advances in the Study of Behavior (New York: Academic Press, 1979), 1–51. 36. Yann Algan, Elizabeth Beasley, Frank Vitaro, and Richard E. Tremblay, “The Long-Term Impact of Social Skills Training at School Entry: A Randomized Controlled Trial” (Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, November 28, 2013). https://www.gate.cnrs.fr/IMG/pdf/MLES_14_nov_2013-1.pdf. 37. Gary W. Evans, “The Environment of Childhood Poverty,” American Psychologist 59 (February/March 2004): 77–92 and works cited there; Jamie L. Hanson, Nicole Hair, Dinggang G. Shen, Feng Shi, John H. Gilmore, Barbara L. Wolfe, and Seth D. Pollack, “Family Poverty Affects the Rate of Human Infant Brain Growth,” PLOS ONE 8 (December 2013), report that directly increasing the income of poor parents has measurable positive effects on children’s cognitive performance and social behavior, strongly suggesting that the link between social class and child development is causal, not spurious. 38.

Jane Waldfogel and Elizabeth Washbrook, “Early Years Policy,” Child Development Research 2011 (2011): 1–12; Amy J. L. Baker, Chaya S. Piotrkowski, and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, “The Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY),” The Future of Children 9 (Spring/Summer 1999): 116–33; Darcy I. Lowell, Alice S. Carter, Leandra Godoy, Belinda Paulicin, and Margaret J. Briggs-Gowan, “A Randomized Controlled Trial of Child FIRST: A Comprehensive Home-Based Intervention Translating Research into Early Childhood Practice,” Child Development 82 (January 2011): 193–208; “Policy: Helping Troubled Families Turn Their Lives Around,” Department for Communities and Local Government, accessed October 10, 2014, https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/helping-troubled-families-turn-their-lives-around/activity.

Newman and Hella Winston, Learning to Labor in the 21st Century: Building the Next Generation of Skilled Workers (New York: Metropolitan, forthcoming 2015). YouthBuild has shown positive results in nonexperimental research; see, for example, Wally Abrazaldo et al., “Evaluation of the YouthBuild Youth Offender Grants: Final Report,” Social Policy Research Associates (May 2009). The Department of Labor has commissioned MDRC to conduct an experimental randomized control trial (RCT) on YouthBuild across 83 sites. Controlled experimental studies have found favorable results from such programs as Job Corps, Service and Conservation Corps, and National Guard Youth ChalleNGe; MDRC, “Building Better Programs for Disconnected Youth,” February 2013, accessed November 24, 2014, http://www.mdrc.org/sites/default/files/Youth_020113.pdf. 64. Arthur M. Cohen and Florence B.


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The Village Effect: How Face-To-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier, Happier, and Smarter by Susan Pinker

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Atul Gawande, Bernie Madoff, call centre, cognitive dissonance, David Brooks, delayed gratification, Edward Glaeser, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, estate planning, facts on the ground, game design, happiness index / gross national happiness, indoor plumbing, invisible hand, Mark Zuckerberg, medical residency, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, neurotypical, Occupy movement, place-making, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Waldo Emerson, randomized controlled trial, Ray Oldenburg, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steven Pinker, The Great Good Place, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Tony Hsieh, urban planning, Yogi Berra

Kate Hammer, “Winning Back Dropouts with a Simple Call,” Globe and Mail, May 31, 2012. 19. UNICEF, “Basic Education and Gender Equality: The Big Picture,” February 6, 2014, http://​www.​unicef.​org/​education/​index_​bigpicture.​html. 20. Dana Burde and Leigh Linden, “The Effect of Village-Based Schools: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial in Afghanistan,” NBER Working Paper 18039 (Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2012); Dana Burde and Leigh Linden, “Bringing Education to Afghan Girls: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Village-Based Schools,” Applied Economics 5, no. 3 (2013). 21. Though I review the evidence in more detail in Chapters 6 and 7, a comparison of effects for two meta-analyses—the first of interactive book reading to stimulate literacy, the second on literacy and academic outcomes from nine one-to-one laptop programs—showed effect sizes (d) ranging from 0.36 to 0.72 in the interaction study and 0.17 to 0.28 in the laptop study.

Alan Mendelsohn et al., “The Impact of a Clinic-Based Literacy Intervention on Language Development in Inner-City Preschool Children,” Pediatrics 107, no. 1 (2001); P. E. Klass, R. Needlman, and Barry Zuckerman, “The Developing Brain and Early Learning,” Archives of Disease in Childhood 88 (2003); N. Golova et al., “Literacy Promotion for Hispanic Families in a Primary Care Setting: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” Pediatrics 103 (1998); Barry Zuckerman, “Promoting Early Literacy in Pediatric Practice: Twenty Years of Reach Out and Read,” Pediatrics 124, no. 6 (2009). 3. C. E. Huebner and A. N. Meltzoff, “Intervention to Change Parent–Child Reading Style: A Comparison of Instructional Methods,” Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 26, no. 3 (2005). 4. V. J. Rideout, Ulla G. Foehr, and Donald F.


pages: 296 words: 87,299

Portfolios of the poor: how the world's poor live on $2 a day by Daryl Collins, Jonathan Morduch, Stuart Rutherford

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Cass Sunstein, clean water, failed state, financial innovation, financial intermediation, income per capita, informal economy, job automation, M-Pesa, mental accounting, microcredit, moral hazard, profit motive, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, transaction costs

They showed that households with signs of self-discipline problems were more likely than others to borrow through microfinance institutions featuring enforced, regular weekly payments. Though taking the loans was costlier than saving, it provided the households with an effective way to accumulate. 11. For an excellent presentation of these issues, we refer readers to Mullainathan 2005. 12. See Ashraf, Karlan, and Yin 2006. They evaluated the impact of this “commitment” saving product using a randomized controlled trial, where 1,800 customers of a bank were randomized to either receive an offer to open the new type of account or not. (Everyone already had access to a standard account.) Among those offered the new type of accounts, 28 percent opened one. After 12 months, average savings balances increased by 80 percent in the group offered the new type of account compared to the control group. This translates as a 300 percent increase for the impacts among those who actually opened the accounts—a large and meaningful increase in savings. 13.

Interview by Stuart Rutherford with Shafiqual Haque Choudhury, ASA president, November 2007. 259 NOTES TO CHAPTER SEVEN Chapter Seven 1. See Duflo, Kremer, and Robinson 2006. 2. See World Bank 2008, chap. 1. 3. Foreign investment in microfinance, for example, more than tripled between 2004 and 2006, to $4 billion. See Reille and Forester 2008. 4. For a review of early experiences with branchless banking, see Ivatury and Mas 2008. 5. New field research adapts methods from medical research, particularly the use of randomized controlled trials, to test the value and logic of financial innovations. Recently, the Financial Access Initiative, a consortium of researchers at New York University, Yale, Harvard, and Innovations for Poverty Action, has been formed to extend field trials in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Working with microfinance providers, researchers are investigating, for example, how sensitive borrowers are to changes in interest rates, the value of structured savings devices, and the impact of business training alongside credit.


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Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance by Julia Angwin

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AltaVista, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, bitcoin, Chelsea Manning, clean water, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, data is the new oil, David Graeber, Debian, Edward Snowden, Filter Bubble, Firefox, GnuPG, Google Chrome, Google Glasses, informal economy, Jacob Appelbaum, Julian Assange, market bubble, market design, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, prediction markets, price discrimination, randomized controlled trial, RFID, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, security theater, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart meter, Steven Levy, Upton Sinclair, WikiLeaks, Y2K, Zimmermann PGP

In 2004, Leon Hempel and Eric Töpfer, writing from the Center for Technology and Society in Berlin, analyzed studies of closed-circuit television (CCTV) use in Europe and found that many of the studies lacked control groups to compare crime trends in the areas where cameras were installed to crime trends in the wider areas without cameras, and lacked analysis of the displacement of crime from the target areas to other areas. The few studies that have used control groups show little support for the theory that cameras can prevent crime. Another Urban Institute study from 2011 analyzing the impact of surveillance cameras on crime in parking lots—and using a randomized controlled trial method—showed that the cameras made no real difference. The study compared a year’s worth of car-related crime in twenty-five parking lots near Metro stations in Washington, D.C., that had installed motion-activated cameras with identical crimes in twenty-five similar “control” parking lots with no cameras installed. Although these were digital still cameras, researchers posted signs that gave the impression of constant camera surveillance of the parking lot.

In 2004, Leon Hempel and Eric Töpfer: Leon Hempel and Eric Töpfer, “On the Threshold to Urban Panopticon?: Analysing the Employment of CCTV in European Cities and Assessing Its Social and Political Implications” (Working Paper No. 1: Inception Report, Urban Eye, January 2002), 23, http://www.urbaneye.net/results/ue_wp1.pdf. Another Urban Institute study from 2011: Nancy G. La Vigne and Samantha S. Lowry, “Evaluation of Camera Use to Prevent Crime in Commuter Parking Facilities: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” Urban Institute, September 2011, http://www.urban.org/publications/412451.html. In 2004, the criminologists Brandon Welsh and David Farrington: Brandon C. Welsh and David Farrington, “Surveillance for Crime Prevention in Public Space: Results and Policy Changes,” Criminology and Public Policy 3, no. 3 (July 2004): 497. The authors of the Urban Institute study: La Vigne and Lowry, “Evaluation of Camera Use.”


pages: 274 words: 93,758

Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception by George A. Akerlof, Robert J. Shiller, Stanley B Resor Professor Of Economics Robert J Shiller

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Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, Bernie Madoff, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, collapse of Lehman Brothers, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, David Brooks, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, equity premium, financial intermediation, full employment, George Akerlof, greed is good, income per capita, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kenneth Rogoff, late fees, loss aversion, Menlo Park, mental accounting, Milgram experiment, moral hazard, new economy, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, The Predators' Ball, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transaction costs, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, Vanguard fund, wage slave

But COX-1 protects the lining of the stomach, and its inhibition causes ulcers.11 Overdosage of NSAIDs is thus a leading cause of death among the elderly.12 Merck had the bright idea (as did Searle) to create a drug targeted to block COX-2, but not COX-1.13 Merck developed such a drug; named it Vioxx; and got it approved by the FDA. But that approval carried with it the further stipulation of a more rigorous randomized controlled trial than had been so far conducted.14 Merck named that study VIGOR (the VIoxx Gastrointestinal Outcomes Research study). The events surrounding VIGOR will give us a feeling for why, despite our modern safeguards, we are still vulnerable to phishing by Pharma. Like publishing houses bringing out a best-selling book, the Pharmaceuticals carefully orchestrate the rollout of a blockbuster drug.

For this reason the Pharmaceuticals with a new drug take special care to midwife such articles. In selecting the authors, who will receive the data from the experiments, the drug companies are not shooting in the dark. Their many connections (including those from the research support given by the company) clue them in: both regarding who will be influential and who will be favorable. The selectees are given easy access to the randomized controlled trials required by the FDA. They are also typically given “editorial support”—less graciously known as “ghostwriting”—for the article.15 It is thus no coincidence that a higher fraction of journal articles sponsored by pharmaceutical companies are favorable to the drugs reviewed than articles funded by other sources.16 Part of drug marketing is not just about the content of the articles published; it is also about their number.


pages: 321 words: 97,661

How to Read a Paper: The Basics of Evidence-Based Medicine by Trisha Greenhalgh

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call centre, complexity theory, conceptual framework, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, deskilling, knowledge worker, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, New Journalism, p-value, personalized medicine, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, the scientific method

Oregon State University Press. 1986;3125–3126. 3 McAlister FA, Clark HD, van Walraven C, et al. The medical review article revisited: has the science improved? Annals of Internal Medicine 1999;131(12):947–51. 4 Oxman AD, Guyatt GH. The science of reviewing research. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1993;703(1):125–34. 5 Antman EM, Lau J, Kupelnick B, et al. A comparison of results of meta-analyses of randomized control trials and recommendations of clinical experts. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association 1992;268(2):240–8. 6 Knipschild P. Systematic reviews. Some examples. BMJ: British Medical Journal 1994;309(6956):719–21. 7 Moher D, Liberati A, Tetzlaff J, et al. Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement. Annals of Internal Medicine 2009;151(4):264–9. 8 Bruins Slot KM, Berge E, Saxena R, et al.

Does cognitive behaviour therapy have an enduring effect that is superior to keeping patients on continuation pharmacotherapy? A meta-analysis. BMJ Open 2013;3(4) doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2012-002542[published Online First: Epub Date]. 15 Egger M, Smith GD, Altman D. Systematic reviews in health care: meta-analysis in context. Chichester: Wiley.com, 2008. 16 Fergusson D, Glass KC, Hutton B, et al. Randomized controlled trials of aprotinin in cardiac surgery: could clinical equipoise have stopped the bleeding? Clinical Trials 2005;2(3):218–32. 17 Stewart LA, Tierney JF. To IPD or not to IPD? Advantages and disadvantages of systematic reviews using individual patient data. Evaluation & the Health Professions 2002;25(1):76–97. 18 Borenstein M, Hedges LV, Higgins JP, et al. Introduction to meta-analysis. Chichester: Wiley.com, 2011. 19 Thompson SG.


pages: 302 words: 83,116

SuperFreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

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agricultural Revolution, airport security, Andrei Shleifer, Atul Gawande, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, call centre, clean water, cognitive bias, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, disintermediation, endowment effect, experimental economics, food miles, indoor plumbing, John Nash: game theory, Joseph Schumpeter, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, market design, microcredit, Milgram experiment, oil shale / tar sands, patent troll, presumed consent, price discrimination, principal–agent problem, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, South China Sea, Stephen Hawking, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, ultimatum game, urban planning, women in the workforce, young professional

It is the triage nurse’s job to match patients and doctors as best as possible. One doc may therefore get all the psychiatric cases on a shift, or all the elderly patients. Because an old person with shortness of breath is much more likely to die than a thirty-year-old with the same condition, we have to be careful not to penalize the doctor who happens to be good with old people. What you’d really like to do is run a randomized, controlled trial so that when patients arrive they are randomly assigned to a doctor, even if that doctor is overwhelmed with other patients or not well equipped to handle a particular ailment. But we are dealing with one set of real, live human beings who are trying to keep another set of real, live human beings from dying, so this kind of experiment isn’t going to happen, and for good reason. Since we can’t do a true randomization, and if simply looking at patient outcomes in the raw data will be misleading, what’s the best way to measure doctor skill?

Semmelweis wondered if the women patients admitted to the doctors’ ward were sicker, weaker, or in some other way compromised. No, that couldn’t be it. Patients were assigned to the wards in alternating twenty-four-hour cycles, depending on the day of the week they arrived. Given the nature of pregnancy, an expectant mother came to the hospital when it was time to have the baby, not on a day that was convenient. This assignment methodology wasn’t quite as rigorous as a randomized, controlled trial, but for Semmelweis’s purpose it did suggest that the divergent death rates weren’t the result of a difference in patient populations. So perhaps one of the wild guesses listed above was correct: did the very presence of men in such a delicate feminine enterprise somehow kill the mothers? Semmelweis concluded that this too was improbable. After examining the death rate for newborns in the two wards, he again found that the doctors’ ward was far more lethal than the midwives’: 7.6 percent versus 3.7 percent.


pages: 138 words: 31,691

Save Your Gallbladder and What to Do if You've Already Lost It by Sandra Cabot, Margaret Jasinska

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randomized controlled trial

An ultrasonographic study. Eur J Radiol. 1983 May;3(2):115-7 19. Sies CW, Brooker J. Could these be gallstones? Lancet 2005;365:1388 20. British Journal of General Practice 2004; 54:574-79 21. Am J Gastroenterology 92:132-38, 1997 22. Kumar S, et al Infection as a risk factor for gallbladder cancer. J Surg Oncol. 2006 Jun 15;93(8):633-9. 23. Glantz A, et al. Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial comparing dexamethasone and ursodeoxycholic acid. Hepatology Dec 2005;42(6):1399-405 24. Glasgow RE, Mulvihill SJ (2010). Treatment of gallstone disease. In M Feldman et al., eds., Sleisenger and Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease, 9th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1121-1138. Philadelphia: Saunders. Index allergies - 20, 45, 49, 51, 70, 86 apple cider vinegar - 28, 37-38, 49, 51-52, 58, 64-65, 69, 71, 115, 117, 119, 122 bile - 7-16, 18-26, 28-32, 35-41, 44-45, 48-49, 54-57, 61-65, 69, 71-84, 86, 88-101, 104, 107-114, 116-117, 126-126 bile sludge - 12, 22, 63 bile stasis - 7, 22-23, 38, 84 bitter foods - 24, 26, 49, 116 blood tests - 83-84, 104 carbohydrate - 7, 16, 23, 39-41, 86, 96 castor oil - 56-57, 69 cholecystectomy (also see gallbladder surgery) - 46, 61, 87-88, 95, 110-111, 126 cholecystitis - 12, 17-18, 20, 30, 38, 61, 81, 83-84, 87, 125-126 cholestasis - 97, 107-108, 126 cholesterol - 13-16, 22-23, 29-30, 32, 35-37, 39-43, 53-55, 67, 73-74, 77-78, 91-92, 96, 107, 125 cholestyramine - 92, 111 clonorchiasis - 102 constipation - 17, 30-34, 110, 112 dairy products - 18, 33, 48, 50, 53, 69-70, 95, 113 dandelion - 25, 29, 50, 70-71, 98, 112-113 digestive enzymes - 24, 49, 55, 61, 67, 71, 73, 75-76, 112-113 ERCP - 81, 89 estrogen - 14, 16, 31-32, 107 fat - 7-8, 13-16, 19, 23, 29-30, 33, 36, 39-43, 45-48, 50, 52-55, 60, 69-70, 73-78, 89, 91-92, 102-106, 109-113, 117, 119, 125-126 fish oil - 54-55 flaxseed - 33, 54, 58, 69 gallbladder attack - 13, 16, 18-22, 30, 37, 43, 48-49, 52, 56-59, 61, 68-69, 74, 83-85, 87, 91, 93-94 gallbladder cancer - 12, 96 gallbladder flush - 7, 26, 60-67, 116 gallbladder polyps - 12, 79, 95 gallbladder surgery (also see cholecystectomy) - 6, 13, 22, 87-88 gallstones - 6-10, 12-17, 19, 21-24, 29-32, 36-49, 55, 58, 61-63, 67, 69, 71, 74, 77-81, 87, 89-92, 94-97, 108, 111, 125-126 globe artichoke - 25, 29-30, 50, 70-71, 98 gluten - 7, 15, 33, 43-45, 47-48, 50, 69-70, 86, 95, 98, 113 glycine - 35, 71, 74 HIDA scan - 44, 81-82, 94 hydatid cysts - 103 hypochlorhydria - 15, 44, 49 hypothyroidism - 15, 32 insulin resistance (also see syndrome X) - 15, 36, 39 jaundice - 62, 84, 94, 97, 99, 104, 107-108, 126 liver - 7-11, 13-16, 18, 21, 23-24, 27-32, 37, 40-44, 48, 54, 57, 62, 66, 71-76, 81-86, 89, 91-92, 97-104, 107-114, 117-119, 125-126 liver fluke - 98-102 magnesium - 34, 36-37, 59, 65, 69, 71 malic acid - 37-38, 60, 65, 71 meal plan - 51 melatonin - 38-39 milk - 33, 47-48, 50-51, 53, 70, 113, 117, 124 milk thistle (also see St Mary’s thistle) - 28 n-acetyl cysteine - 37, 98, 114 ox bile - 35-36, 49, 55, 69, 71, 112-113 pancreatitis - 85, 87, 94 peppermint - 30, 34, 59, 69, 115 porcelain gallbladder - 12, 97 pregnancy - 14-15, 84, 107-108 primary biliary cirrhosis - 5, 12, 85, 91, 97 sclerosing cholangitis - 12, 85, 97 selenium - 37, 43, 65, 95-96, 98, 114 St Mary’s thistle - 28-29, 71, 98, 112 syndrome x - 15, 36, 38-39 tapeworm - 103, 105-106 taurine - 35, 65, 71, 74, 98 ultrasound - 12, 62, 67, 80, 89-90, 95, 97, 100-101, 104 ursodeoxycholic acid - 36, 91, 97, 108 vitamin C - 10, 34, 36, 43, 71 Table of Contents Important About the Authors Introduction Chapter 1 Types of gallbladder disorders covered in this book Risk factors for gallbladder disease Symptoms of gallbladder dysfunction Symptoms of a gallbladder attack Chapter 2 The natural treatment of gallstones The seven essential strategies for treating gallbladder disease Raw vegetable juice for the gallbladder Green goodness soup for the gallbladder Raw beet salad for the gallbladder 3.


pages: 565 words: 151,129

The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism by Jeremy Rifkin

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, big-box store, bioinformatics, bitcoin, business process, Chris Urmson, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, Community Supported Agriculture, computer vision, crowdsourcing, demographic transition, distributed generation, en.wikipedia.org, Frederick Winslow Taylor, global supply chain, global village, Hacker Ethic, industrial robot, informal economy, intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, labour mobility, Mahatma Gandhi, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, natural language processing, new economy, New Urbanism, nuclear winter, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer lending, personalized medicine, phenotype, planetary scale, price discrimination, profit motive, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Stallman, risk/return, Ronald Coase, search inside the book, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social web, software as a service, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, the built environment, The Nature of the Firm, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, transaction costs, urban planning, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks, working poor, Zipcar

The two subsequently joined forces with Frank Moss, director of the MIT Media Lab, and out of that collaboration came thelamfoundation.org, a website that allows patients to report on their health. The data in the reports are aggregated and analyzed to aid researchers in mapping out new research scenarios. This crowdsourcing approach to research differs substantially from traditional randomized controlled trials used in conventional research, which are expensive and time consuming and conceived of and carried out by researchers from the top down, with patients serving as passive subjects. The LAM site, like other research efforts on the health-care Commons, starts with the patients’ collective wisdom, which helps determine the research protocols. Moss explains that “we’re really turning patients into scientists and changing the balance of power between clinicians and scientists and patients.”54 The Association of Cancer Online Resources (ACOR), founded by Gilles Frydman, has taken the idea of patient-driven health care a step further by creating a more comprehensive health Commons where over 600,000 patients and caregivers are actively engaged in 163 public online communities.

So professional research has a built-in lethal lag time—a period of delay between the time some people know about an important medical breakthrough and the time everyone knows.60 While double-blind, controlled clinical studies are extremely expensive, patient-initiated observational studies using Big Data and algorithms to discover health patterns and impacts can be undertaken at near zero marginal cost. Still in its infancy, this open-source approach to research often suffers from a lack of verification that the slower, time-tested professional review process brings to conventional randomized control trials. Advocates are aware of these shortcomings but are confident that patient-directed research can begin to build in the appropriate checks, much like Wikipedia does in the shakeout process of verifying and validating articles on its websites. Today, Wikipedia has 19 million contributors. Thousands of users fact check and refine articles, assuring that the open-source website’s accuracy is competitive with other encyclopedias.


pages: 427 words: 30,920

The Autoimmune Connection by Rita Baron-Faust, Jill Buyon

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Columbine, mouse model, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, stem cell

Treating Fibromyalgia Treatment for fibromyalgia usually involves a combination of medication and exercise, along with behavior modification techniques, like stress reduction, and other coping strategies. “Regular analgesics don’t work very well in pain amplification syndromes. Things like acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have virtually no effect in pain amplification syndromes. Opioids also do not seem to work well,” comments Dr. Clauw. “The best drugs for these syndromes are those that act on the central nervous system, like tricyclic antidepressants. Some randomized controlled trials indicate that medications that act on the 352 The Autoimmune Connection neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine are among the most effective.” Aerobic exercise acts as a natural painkiller and an antidepressant, he adds. Antidepressant medications can help reduce pain signals from nerves and aid sleep. “While the major treatment of fibromyalgia is really physical exercise, for those patients who have sleep disturbances we often use a low dose of a tricyclic antidepressant, or the antiseizure medication gabapentin (Neurontin), which helps both chronic pain and sleep problems,” says Dr.

A small preliminary study at the Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia suggests that symptoms can be reduced by eliminating potential food allergens, including wheat, dairy, and citrus. “However, given the fact that fibromyalgia is a neural pain amplification syndrome, it’s unlikely that nutritional factors play a really prominent role,” remarks Dr. Clauw. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches coping skills and behavioral changes to help you manage an often-frustrating illness. “Every randomized, controlled trial of cognitive behavioral therapy in any chronic illness has Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Endometriosis, and Interstitial Cystitis 355 shown it to be effective,” says Dr. Clauw. For women with fibromyalgia, a pain-based CBT program can be especially effective. In CBT, you’ll learn relaxation techniques (such as deep breathing and positive visual imagery), how to reframe negative thoughts and behaviors that intensify pain responses, how to effectively solve problems, and how to pace activities to accommodate whatever limitations you may have.


pages: 455 words: 116,578

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

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Atul Gawande, Checklist Manifesto, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, delayed gratification, desegregation, game design, haute couture, impulse control, index card, meta analysis, meta-analysis, patient HM, pattern recognition, randomized controlled trial, rolodex, Rosa Parks, Silicon Valley, telemarketer, Tenerife airport disaster, Toyota Production System, transaction costs, Walter Mischel

Faucher, “2.5 Years Follow-up of Weight and Body Mass Index Values in the Weight Control for Life! Program: A Descriptive Analysis,” Addictive Behaviors 17, no. 6 (1992): 579–85; D. J. Horne, A. E. White, and G. A. Varigos, “A Preliminary Study of Psychological Therapy in the Management of Atopic Eczema,” British Journal of Medical Psychology 62, no. 3 (1989): 241–48; T. Deckersbach et al., “Habit Reversal Versus Supportive Psychotherapy in Tourette’s Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial and Predictors of Treatment Response,” Behaviour Research and Therapy 44, no. 8 (2006): 1079–90; Douglas W. Woods and Raymond G. Miltenberger, “Habit Reversal: A Review of Applications and Variations,” Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 26, no. 2 (1995): 123–31; D. W. Woods, C. T. Wetterneck, and C. A. Flessner, “A Controlled Evaluation of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Plus Habit Reversal for Trichotillomania,” Behaviour Research and Therapy 44, no. 5 (2006): 639–56. 3.28 More than three dozen studies J.

Wilson, “Lifestyle Modification for the Management of Obesity,” Gastro-enterology 132 (2007): 2226–38. 4.24 Then, in 2009 a group of researchers J. F. Hollis et al., “Weight Loss During the Intensive Intervention Phase of the Weight-Loss Maintenance Trial,” American Journal of Preventative Medicine 35 (2008): 118–26. See also L. P. Svetkey et al., “Comparison of Strategies for Sustaining Weight Loss, the Weight Loss Maintenance Randomized Controlled Trial,” JAMA 299 (2008): 1139–48; A. Fitch and J. Bock, “Effective Dietary Therapies for Pediatric Obesity Treatment,” Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders 10 (2009): 231–36; D. Engstrom, “Eating Mindfully and Cultivating Satisfaction: Modifying Eating Patterns in a Bariatric Surgery Patient,” Bariatric Nursing and Surgical Patient Care 2 (2007): 245–50; J. R. Peters et al., “Eating Pattern Assessment Tool: A Simple Instrument for Assessing Dietary Fat and Cholesterol Intake,” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 94 (1994): 1008–13; S.


pages: 406 words: 115,719

The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes

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Albert Einstein, British Empire, cuban missile crisis, epigenetics, Gary Taubes, Isaac Newton, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, phenotype, pre–internet, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, the scientific method, Works Progress Administration

But it wasn’t a human’s lifetime. They had no idea whether rats were good models for humans. Moreover, as other researchers had implied at the same conference, they couldn’t even know if the rats they used were good models for other rats, since some of the observations were what researchers would call “strain specific.” Eating sugar seemed to shorten the lives of some strains of rats but not others. The kind of randomized controlled trials over the course of ten or twenty years that would truly test the hypothesis that sugar caused heart disease or diabetes, as Yudkin noted, were no different from the kind the NIH was then considering and would soon reject for the dietary-fat/cholesterol hypothesis. Such trials were certainly far beyond the budget of any single researcher or even collaboration of researchers; they required that the National Institutes of Health or the Medical Research Council in the U.K. or some other government agency create a concerted program to test the idea.

In 2005, Scottish researchers reported that diabetic patients who took a drug called metformin, which works to reduce insulin resistance and therefore lower circulating levels of insulin, also had a significantly reduced risk of cancer compared with diabetics on other medications. That association has been confirmed multiple times, and has led researchers to test whether metformin acts as an anti-cancer drug, preventing or inhibiting cancer’s recurrence in randomized controlled trials. These observations also served to focus the attention of cancer researchers further on the possibility that insulin and insulin-like growth factor are cancer promoters, and thus that abnormally elevated levels of insulin—caused by insulin resistance, for instance—would increase our cancer risk. This was another area of research that had emerged in the 1960s, with laboratory work by some of the leading cancer researchers—including Howard Temin, who would later win the Nobel Prize—demonstrating that cancer cells require insulin to propagate; at least they do so outside the human body, growing as cell cultures in the laboratory.


pages: 158 words: 46,760

Overcoming Adrenal Fatigue: How to Restore Hormonal Balance and Feel Renewed, Energized, and Stress Free by Kathryn Simpson

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impulse control, meta analysis, meta-analysis, phenotype, randomized controlled trial

Chrousos. 1999. Adrenocortical tumors: Recent advances in basic concepts and clinical management. Annals of Internal Medicine 130(9):759-771. Boscarino, J. A. 2004. Posttraumatic stress disorder and physical illness: Results from clinical and epidemiologic studies. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1032:141-153. Brody, S., R. Preut, K. Schommer, and T. H. Schürmeyer. 2002. A randomized controlled trial of high dose ascorbic acid for reduction of blood pressure, cortisol, and subjective responses to psychological stress. Psychopharmacology 159(3):319-324. Brot, C., P. Vestergaard, N. Kolthoff, J. Gram, A. P. Hermann, and O. H. Sùrensen. 2001. Vitamin D status and its adequacy in healthy Danish perimenopausal women: Relationships to dietary intake, sun exposure, and serum parathyroid hormone.


pages: 179 words: 43,441

The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, clean water, collaborative consumption, conceptual framework, continuous integration, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, distributed ledger, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, future of work, global value chain, Google Glasses, income inequality, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of the steam engine, job automation, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, life extension, Lyft, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, more computing power than Apollo, mutually assured destruction, Narrative Science, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, personalized medicine, precariat, precision agriculture, Productivity paradox, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, reshoring, RFID, rising living standards, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart cities, smart contracts, software as a service, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stuxnet, The Spirit Level, total factor productivity, transaction costs, Uber and Lyft, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, working-age population, Y Combinator, Zipcar

Third, new information flows and increasing transparency can help shift citizen behaviour on a large scale, as it becomes the path of least resistance within a new set of business and social norms for a sustainable circular system. Fruitful convergence between the fields of economics and psychology has been producing insights into how we perceive the world, behave and justify our behaviour, while a number of large-scale randomized control trials by governments, corporations and universities have shown that this can work. One example is OPower, which uses peer-comparison to entice people into consuming less electricity, thereby protecting the environment while reducing costs. Fourth, as the previous section detailed, new business and organizational models promise innovative ways of creating and sharing value, which in turn lead to whole system changes that can actively benefit the natural world as much as our economies and societies.


pages: 219 words: 65,532

The Numbers Game: The Commonsense Guide to Understanding Numbers in the News, in Politics, and inLife by Michael Blastland; Andrew Dilnot

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Atul Gawande, business climate, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, happiness index / gross national happiness, pension reform, pensions crisis, randomized controlled trial, school choice, very high income

That tendency to ignore the need for statistical verification is only now beginning to change, with the slow and often grudging acceptance that we need more than a plausible anecdote (a single wave) before instituting a new policy for reoffenders, for teaching methods, for health care, or any other state function. Politicians are among the most recalcitrant, sometimes pleading that the genuine pressure of time, expense, and public expectation makes impossible the ideally random-controlled trials that would be able to identify real stripes from fake, sometimes apparently not much caring or understanding, but, one way or another, often resting their policies on little more than luck and a good story, becoming as a result the willing or unwilling suckers of chance. A politician with a taste for a calculated gamble is a disappointingly welcoming way in for chance to do its dirty work.


pages: 252 words: 70,424

The Self-Made Billionaire Effect: How Extreme Producers Create Massive Value by John Sviokla, Mitch Cohen

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Cass Sunstein, Colonization of Mars, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Elon Musk, Frederick Winslow Taylor, game design, global supply chain, James Dyson, Jeff Bezos, John Harrison: Longitude, Jony Ive, loss aversion, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, paper trading, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart meter, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Tony Hsieh, Toyota Production System, young professional

As recently as ten years ago, development stakeholders had no real way to test whether solutions like free school lunches actually get kids into the classroom—just counting the number of kids before and after doesn’t determine causality. And they definitely didn’t know whether free lunches were better and cheaper than alternative programs, such as conditional cash transfers, deworming medications to reduce illness, or free uniforms. Kremer saw a solution in the randomized controlled trial (RCT), the research method used by pharmaceutical companies to determine whether a drug is effective or not. Kremer was one of the first social scientists to design an RCT to test a social program, helping start a movement that has since become the gold standard in social research.1 (As it turns out, school-based deworming programs are the cheapest and most effective way to get poor kids to go to school.)


pages: 281 words: 83,119

The Secret Female Hormone by Kathy C. Maupin, M.D.

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clean water, medical residency, randomized controlled trial

“Androgen Insufficiency in Women: The Princeton Conference.” Fertility and Sterility 77, no. S4 (April 2002): S26-S47. Russell, Jon. “Fibromyalgia Syndrome: New Developments in Pathophysiology and Management.” Primary Psychiatry 13, no. 9 (2006): 38-39. Saravanan, P., D. Simmons, R. Greenwood et al. “Partial Substitution of Thyroxine (T4) with Tri-Iodothyronine in Patients on T4 Replacement Therapy: Results of Large Community-based Randomized Controlled Trial.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 90, no. 2 (2005): 805. Sarrel, Philip M. “Androgen Deficiency: Menopause and Estrogen-related Factors.” Fertility and Sterility 77, no. S4 (April 2002): S63-S66. Savvas, M., J. Studd, S. Norman et al. “Increase in Bone Mass After One Year of Percutaneous Oestradiol and Testosterone Implants in Post-Menopausal Women who Have Previously Received Long-Term Oral Oestrogens.”


pages: 220 words: 66,518

The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles by Bruce H. Lipton

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Albert Einstein, Benoit Mandelbrot, correlation does not imply causation, discovery of DNA, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Isaac Newton, Mahatma Gandhi, mandelbrot fractal, Mars Rover, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, phenotype, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, stem cell

“Magnetic field influence on acetylcholine release at the neuromuscular junction.” American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology 262: C1418-C1422. Rumbles, G. (2001). “A laser that turns down the heat.” Nature 409: 572-573. Shumaker, S. A., C. Legault, et al. (2003). “Estrogen Plus Progestin and the Incidence of Dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment in Postmenopausal Women: The Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Journal of the American Medical Association 289(20): 2651-2662. Sivitz, L. (2000). “Cells proliferate in magnetic fields.” Science News 158: 195. Starfield, B. (2000). “Is US Health Really the Best in the World?” Journal of the American Medical Association 284(4): 483-485. Szent-Györgyi, A. (1960). Introduction to a Submolecular Biology. New York, Academic Press. Tsong, T. Y. (1989).


pages: 281 words: 79,958

Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives by Michael Specter

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agricultural Revolution, Anne Wojcicki, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, clean water, Drosophila, food miles, invention of gunpowder, out of africa, personalized medicine, placebo effect, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, Simon Singh, Skype, stem cell, Ted Kaczynski, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, Upton Sinclair, X Prize

In the world of CAM, evidence matters no more than compassion or belief. Weil spells it all out in Healthy Aging: To many, faith is simply unfounded belief, belief in the absence of evidence, and that is anathema to the scientific mind. There is a great movement toward “evidence-based medicine” today, an attempt to weed out ideas and practices not supported by the kind of evidence that doctors like best: results of randomized controlled trials. This way of thinking discounts the evidence of experience. I maintain that it is possible to look at the world scientifically and also to be aware of nonmaterial reality, and I consider it important for both doctors and patients to know how to assess spiritual health. (Italics added.) Evidence of experience? He is referring to personal anecdotes, and allowing anecdotes to compete with, and often supplant, verifiable facts is evidence of its own kind—of the denialism at the core of nearly every alternative approach to medicine.


pages: 261 words: 78,884

$2.00 A Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn Edin, H. Luke Shaefer

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, clean water, ending welfare as we know it, future of work, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, impulse control, indoor plumbing, informal economy, low-wage service sector, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, Ronald Reagan, War on Poverty, working poor, Works Progress Administration

When asked what she would do to change things, the wife responded, “Raise the minimum wage!” HUD seeks to alleviate some of the burden of the high housing costs faced by low-income families through maintaining public housing developments and through the housing choice voucher program, colloquially known as Section 8. While these programs are far from perfect, there’s solid evidence from the gold standard of social science research—a randomized control trial—that they reduce housing instability considerably. Access to a Section 8 voucher, in particular, reduces the chances that a family will be homeless—either doubled up or out on the streets. It lessens by half the share of families living in overcrowded units, and it greatly diminishes the average number of moves a family makes over a five-year period. But while the cost of housing has grown and wages have stagnated, the size of government housing programs has not kept pace, a trend of reduced investment that began in the 1980s during the Reagan administration.


pages: 284 words: 79,265

The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date by Samuel Arbesman

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Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrew Wiles, bioinformatics, British Empire, Chelsea Manning, Clayton Christensen, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, David Brooks, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Galaxy Zoo, guest worker program, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, index fund, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, life extension, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, Nicholas Carr, p-value, Paul Erdős, Pluto: dwarf planet, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, social graph, social web, text mining, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation

Physics Reports 502, no. 1 (May 2011): 1–35. 104 Certain concepts in computer science: Trakhtenbrot, B. A. “A Survey of Russian Approaches to Perebor (Brute-Force Searches) Algorithms.” IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 6 (October 1, 1984): 384–400. 107 how often scientists were aware of previous research: Robinson, Karen A., and Steven N. Goodman. “A Systematic Examination of the Citation of Prior Research in Reports of Randomized, Controlled Trials.” Annals of Internal Medicine 154, no. 1 (January 4, 2011): 50–55. 108 a team of scientists from the hospitals and schools: Lau, Joseph, et al. “Cumulative Meta-Analysis of Therapeutic Trials for Myocardial Infarction.” New England Journal of Medicine 327, no. 4 (July 23, 1992): 248–54. 110 the creation of a massive database: Frijters, Raoul, et al. “Literature Mining for the Discovery of Hidden Connections between Drugs, Genes and Diseases.”


Everydata: The Misinformation Hidden in the Little Data You Consume Every Day by John H. Johnson

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Black Swan, business intelligence, Carmen Reinhart, cognitive bias, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, lake wobegon effect, Long Term Capital Management, Mercator projection, Mercator projection distort size, especially Greenland and Africa, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Nate Silver, obamacare, p-value, PageRank, pattern recognition, randomized controlled trial, risk-adjusted returns, Ronald Reagan, statistical model, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Tim Cook: Apple, wikimedia commons, Yogi Berra

Newschaffer, “Autism Occurrence by MMR Vaccine Status Among 221158 i-xiv 1-210 r4ga.indd  174 2/8/16  5:58:50 PM Notes 175 US Children with Older Siblings with and without Autism,” JAMA 313, no. 15 (2015), http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2275444. Although, if you want to start poking holes, you could start with the fact that the sample set was “privately insured children with older siblings.” Chapter 5 1. Randomization is a powerful statistical tool for eliminating selection bias, and Esther Duflo and others have written extensively about randomized controlled trials and related topics. For more detail, “Using Randomization in ­Development Economics Research: A Toolkit,” © 2006 by Esther Duflo, Rachel Glennerster, and Michael Kremer, National Bureau of Economic Research, 2006, http://www.nber.org/papers/t0333.pdf. 2. February 29 was included in the dates to account for men born in leap years. 3. David E. Rosenbaum, “Statisticians Charge Draft Lottery Was Not Random,” New York Times, January 4, 1970, http://frewm.wikispaces.com/file/view /nytimes.pdf.


pages: 262 words: 79,790

Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality by Pauline W. Chen

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medical residency, randomized controlled trial

., Fincke, B. G. “Morbidity and Mortality Conference: A Survey of Academic Internal Medicine Departments.” Journal of General Internal Medicine 2003;18(8):656–58. Ornstein, C., Zarembo, A. “The UCLA Body Parts Scandal.” Los Angeles Times, March 10, 2004. Peters, A. S., Greenberger-Rosovsky, R., Crowder, C., et al. “Long-Term Outcomes of the New Pathway Program at Harvard Medical School: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Academic Medicine 2000;75(5):470–79. Phipps, E., True, G., Harris, D., et al. “Approaching the End of Life: Attitudes, Preferences, and Behaviors of African-American and White Patients and Their Family Caregivers.” Journal of Clinical Oncology 2003;21(3):549–54. Pierluissi, E., Fischer, M. A., Campbell, A. R., et al. “Discussion of Medical Errors in Morbidity and Mortality Conferences.”


pages: 274 words: 73,344

Found in Translation: How Language Shapes Our Lives and Transforms the World by Nataly Kelly, Jost Zetzsche

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airport security, Berlin Wall, Celtic Tiger, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, glass ceiling, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, Skype, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, the market place

See Craig Bowron, “A Simple Question Leads to Answers in Medical Mystery,” MinnPost, February 28, 2008; www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2008/02/simple-question-leads-answers-medical-mystery. 5. To read the full details of the study, see Ann D. Bagchi, Stacy Dale, Natalya Verbitsky-Savitz, Sky Andrecheck, Kathleen Zavotsky, and Robert Eisenstein, “Examining Effectiveness of Medical Interpreters in Emergency Departments for Spanish-Speaking Patients with Limited English Proficiency: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial,” Annals of Emergency Medicine 57, no. 3 (March 2011); the abstract is available at www.annemergmed.com/article/S0196-0644%2810%2900557-3/abstract. 6. To see a graphic that was published in the New York Times and traces the discovery of the disease in Mexico, visit www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/05/02/health/0502-health-timeline.ready.html?ref=health. 7. The examples from the Tampa Tribune can be found at www.amtaweb.org/AMTA2006/AMTA_2006-08-06.pdf. 8.


pages: 358 words: 95,115

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson, Ashley Merryman

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affirmative action, Columbine, delayed gratification, desegregation, impulse control, index card, job satisfaction, lake wobegon effect, meta analysis, meta-analysis, randomized controlled trial, Steven Pinker, telemarketer, theory of mind

, and David P. Farrington, “Effects of Closed-Circuit Television on Crime,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 587, no. 1, pp. 110–135 (2003). Wilfley, Denise E., Tiffany L. Tibbs, Dorothy J. Van Buren, Kelle P. Reach, Mark S. Walker, and Leonard H. Epstein, “Lifestyle Interventions in the Treatment of Childhood Overweight: A Meta-analytic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials,” Health Psychology, vol. 26, no. 5, pp. 521–532 (2007). Williams, A. F., “Young Driver Risk Factors: Successful and Unsuccessful Approaches for Dealing With Them and an Agenda for the Future,” Injury Prevention, vol. 12, supp. 1, pp. 4–8 (2006). Chapter 9, Plays Well With Others Allen, Joseph P., Remarks as discussant for paper symposium, “How and Why Does Peer Influence Occur? Socialization Mechanisms From a Developmental Perspective,” Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Chicago (2008).


pages: 291 words: 92,406

Thinking in Pictures: And Other Reports From My Life With Autism by Temple Grandin

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Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, factory automation, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, theory of mind

V. 1994 Autism: electroencephalogram abnormalities and clinical improvement with valproic acid. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 148: 220–222. D. Rapp 1991 Is this your child? Discovering and treating unrecognized allergies. New York., William Morrow et al. Ratey J. J. 1987 Autism: The treatment of aggressive behaviors. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology 7, 1:, 35–41. Richardson A. J. P. Montgomery 2005 The Oxford-Durham study—a randomized controlled trial of dietary supplementation with fatty acids in children with developmental coordination disorder. Pediatrics, 115: 1360–1366. et al. R. Ricketts 1993 Fluoxetine treatment of severe self-injury in young adults with mental retardation. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 32, 4:, 865–869. B. Rimland 1994 Parent ratings of behavioral effects of drugs and nutrients.


pages: 300 words: 65,976

The Gospel of Food: Everything You Think You Know About Food Is Wrong by Barry Glassner

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Gary Taubes, haute cuisine, income inequality, meta analysis, meta-analysis, New Urbanism, placebo effect, profit motive, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Saturday Night Live, stem cell, urban sprawl, working poor

Willett and the paper’s authors both emphasized that nineteen people in a subsample were almost eight pounds below their initial weight thirty months after the start of the study. But even that favorable finding is offset by the fact that twenty-six of those who dropped out of the study and allowed themselves to be weighed after eighteen months had an average weight gain of nine pounds. Katherine McManus, Linda Antinoro, and Frank Sacks, “A Randomized Controlled Trial 262 Notes of a Moderate-Fat, Low-Energy Diet Compared with a Low-Fat, Low-Energy Diet for Weight Loss in Overweight Adults,” International Journal of Obesity 25 (2001): 1503–11. 50. Richard Klein,“Big Country,” New Republic, September 19, 1994, pp. 28– 33; Sander Gilman, Fat Boys (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004); Peter N. Stearns, Fat History (New York: New York University Press, 2002); Glassner, Bodies; Eric Oliver, Obesity: The Making of an American Epidemic (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005). 51.


pages: 357 words: 110,072

Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts About Alternative Medicine by Edzard Ernst, Simon Singh

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Barry Marshall: ulcers, Berlin Wall, correlation does not imply causation, false memory syndrome, Florence Nightingale: pie chart, germ theory of disease, John Snow's cholera map, Louis Pasteur, meta analysis, meta-analysis, placebo effect, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, Ronald Reagan, Simon Singh, The Design of Experiments, the scientific method

If the patients are randomly assigned to groups, then it can be assumed that the groups will be broadly similar in terms of any factor, such as age, income, gender or the severity of the illness, which might affect a patient’s outcome. Randomization even allows for unknown factors to be balanced equally across the groups. Fairness through randomization is particularly effective if the initial pool of participants is large. In this case, the number of participants (366 patients) was impressively large. Today medical researchers call this a randomized controlled trial (or RCT) or a randomized clinical trial, and it is considered the gold standard for putting therapies to the test. Although Hamilton succeeded in conducting the first randomized clinical trial on the effects of bloodletting, he failed to publish his results. In fact, we know of Hamilton’s research only because his documents were rediscovered in 1987 among papers hidden in a trunk lodged with the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh.


pages: 605 words: 110,673

Drugs Without the Hot Air by David Nutt

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British Empire, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, knowledge economy, meta analysis, meta-analysis, offshore financial centre, randomized controlled trial, risk tolerance, Robert Gordon, War on Poverty

.”• LSD: my problem child, Albert Hofmann, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1980 4 “I lost all control of time• As above. 5 they recorded that they found themselves taking their schizophrenic patients’ accounts of their illness more seriously• Hofmann’s Potion: The Early Years of LSD, Connie Littlefield, URL-120, 2002 6 The LSD trials at Saskatchewan• As above. 7 outbreak of insanity in the French town of Pont-Saint-Esprit in 1951• A terrible mistake, Hank Albarelli, Trine Day, 2009 8 Leary first tried psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, and he soon began experimenting with LSD as well• Hofmann’s Potion: The Early Years of LSD, Connie Littlefield, URL-120, 2002 9 “hearing voices”• Schizophrenia, National Institute of Mental Health, URL-118. 10 an edition of Spiderman in 1971• The Amazing Spiderman issues #96–98, Stan Lee, Marvel Comics, May–July 1971 11 five other studies that have found LSD helps people overcome alcoholism• Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) for alcoholism: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, Teri S. Krebs and Pal-Orjan Johansen, Journal of Psychopharmacology, 2011 12 cluster headaches self-medicate with psychedelics• Will Harvard drop acid again?, Peter Bebergal, URL-121, June 9th 2008 13 use in problem solving• LSD – The Problem Solving Psychedelic, PG Stafford and BH Golightly, Award Books, 1967 14 Francis Crick• Nobel Prize Genius Crick was High on LSD when he discovered the secret of life, Alun Rees, the Mail on Sunday, August 8th 2004 15 Kary Mullis• BBC Horizon – Psychedelic Science – DMT, LSD, Ibogaine – Part 5, BBC, 1997 16 polymerase chain reaction (PCR)• The polymerase chain reaction is used to “amplify” a small amount of DNA, to produce a larger quantity that makes testing possible or easier.


pages: 320 words: 97,509

Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician by Sandeep Jauhar

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, delayed gratification, illegal immigration, income inequality, medical malpractice, moral hazard, obamacare, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, stem cell, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Yogi Berra

Afterward the head of the committee pointedly noted that I was in Scios’s speakers’ bureau. Though he didn’t say it explicitly, the clear implication was that my assessment was being influenced by money. In the end, the committee decided to restrict Natrecor use to me (the resident heart failure specialist) and a handful of other cardiologists. By then I’d tapered off the talks anyway, and soon afterward I quit the speakers’ bureau. (A randomized, controlled trial later showed that Natrecor was safe but no more effective than existing, cheaper therapies.) During the two years I gave these talks, I often thought of what Jacob Hirsch, a cardiologist at NYU, once told me when we were sitting in the echo reading room during my fellowship. He was eating a sandwich that had been brought in by a drug rep. “It’s not the doctors at the academic centers that they should be policing,” he said.


pages: 308 words: 84,713

The Glass Cage: Automation and Us by Nicholas Carr

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Airbnb, Andy Kessler, Atul Gawande, autonomous vehicles, business process, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Checklist Manifesto, cloud computing, David Brooks, deliberate practice, deskilling, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, global supply chain, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, High speed trading, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, Internet of things, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, natural language processing, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, software is eating the world, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, technoutopianism, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

But even he warns that the current “misguided use of statistical knowledge” in medicine “systematically excludes the individualized knowledge and data essential to patient care.”52 Gary Klein, a research psychologist who studies how people make decisions, has deeper worries. By forcing physicians to follow set rules, evidence-based medicine “can impede scientific progress,” he writes. Should hospitals and insurers “mandate EBM, backed up by the threat of lawsuits if adverse outcomes are accompanied by any departure from best practices, physicians will become reluctant to try alternative treatment strategies that have not yet been evaluated using randomized controlled trials. Scientific advancement can become stifled if front-line physicians, who blend medical expertise with respect for research, are prevented from exploration and are discouraged from making discoveries.”53 If we’re not careful, the automation of mental labor, by changing the nature and focus of intellectual endeavor, may end up eroding one of the foundations of culture itself: our desire to understand the world.


pages: 317 words: 87,566

The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Well-Being by William Davies

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1960s counterculture, Airbnb, business intelligence, Cass Sunstein, corporate governance, dematerialisation, experimental subject, Exxon Valdez, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Gini coefficient, income inequality, invisible hand, joint-stock company, market bubble, mental accounting, nudge unit, profit maximization, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, sentiment analysis, sharing economy, Slavoj Žižek, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Spirit Level, theory of mind, urban planning

The science of deflation The ability of individuals to ‘strive’ and ‘grow’ came under a somewhat different scientific spotlight between 1957 and 1958, due to accidental and coincidental discoveries made by two psychiatrists, Ronald Kuhn and Nathan Kline, working in the United States and Switzerland respectively. As with so many major scientific breakthroughs, it is impossible to specify who exactly got there first, for the simple reason that neither quite understood where exactly they had got to. The era of psychopharmacology was still very young, with the discovery of the first drug effective against schizophrenia in 1952 and the running of the first successful ‘randomized control trials’ (whereby a drug is tested alongside a placebo, with the recipients not knowing which one they’ve received) on Valium in 1954. These breakthroughs opened up a new neurochemical terrain for psychiatrists to explore. Unlike the developers of those anti-anxiety and anti-schizophrenia drugs, Kline and Kuhn were not sure precisely what disorder they were seeking to target. Kline began experimenting with a drug called iproniazid, which had first been used against tuberculosis, while Kuhn was trialling imipramine in the hope that it might target psychosis.


pages: 305 words: 89,103

Scarcity: The True Cost of Not Having Enough by Sendhil Mullainathan

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American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Andrei Shleifer, Cass Sunstein, clean water, computer vision, delayed gratification, double entry bookkeeping, Exxon Valdez, fault tolerance, happiness index / gross national happiness, impulse control, indoor plumbing, inventory management, knowledge worker, late fees, linear programming, mental accounting, microcredit, p-value, payday loans, purchasing power parity, randomized controlled trial, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Richard Thaler, Saturday Night Live, Walter Mischel, Yogi Berra

As a starting point, see Eduardo Sabaté, ed., Adherence to Long-Term Therapies: Evidence for Action (Geneva: World Health Organization, 2003). This book also contains adherence data for a wide variety of diseases. more than 28 percent of total yield: December 15, 2009. The benefits of weeding for any one farmer may be hard to generalize from these studies, which rely on model plots or on cross-sectional data. A careful randomized control trial of the benefits to farmers of weeding would be particularly useful in this area. For the current estimates in Africa, see L. P. Gianessi et al., “Solving Africa’s Weed Problem: Increasing Crop Production and Improving the Lives of Women,” Proceedings of “Agriculture: Africa’s ‘engine for growth’—Plant Science and Biotechnology Hold the Key,” Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, UK, October 12–14, 2009 (Association of Applied Biologists, 2009).


pages: 416 words: 106,582

This Will Make You Smarter: 150 New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking by John Brockman

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23andMe, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, banking crisis, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, biofilm, Black Swan, butterfly effect, Cass Sunstein, cloud computing, congestion charging, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, data acquisition, David Brooks, delayed gratification, Emanuel Derman, epigenetics, Exxon Valdez, Flash crash, Flynn Effect, hive mind, impulse control, information retrieval, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, mandelbrot fractal, market design, Mars Rover, Marshall McLuhan, microbiome, Murray Gell-Mann, Nicholas Carr, open economy, place-making, placebo effect, pre–internet, QWERTY keyboard, random walk, randomized controlled trial, rent control, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Richard Thaler, Schrödinger's Cat, security theater, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, Thorstein Veblen, Turing complete, Turing machine, Walter Mischel, Whole Earth Catalog

Politicians and civil servants too seldom appreciate how tools drawn from both the natural and social sciences can be used to design more effective policies, and even to win votes. In education and criminal justice, for example, interventions are regularly undertaken without being subjected to proper evaluation. Both fields can be perfectly amenable to one of science’s most potent techniques—the randomized controlled trial—yet these are seldom required before new initiatives are put into place. Pilots are often derisory in nature, failing even to collect useful evidence that could be used to evaluate a policy’s success. Sheila Bird, of the Medical Research Council, for instance, has criticized the UK’s introduction of a new community sentence called the Drug Treatment and Testing Order, following pilots designed so poorly as to be worthless.


pages: 378 words: 110,408

Peak: Secrets From the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson, Robert Pool

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Albert Einstein, deliberate practice, iterative process, meta analysis, meta-analysis, pattern recognition, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, sensible shoes

The program uses the same basic principles found in deliberate practice: breaking learning down into a series of well-specified skills, designing exercises to teach each of those skills in the correct order, and using feedback to monitor progress. According to teachers who have used the curriculum, this approach has allowed them to teach the relevant math skills to essentially every student, with no one left behind. Jump was evaluated in a randomized controlled trial in Ontario with twenty-nine teachers and approximately three hundred fifth-grade students, and after five months the students in the Jump classes showed more than twice as much progress as the others in understanding mathematical concepts as measured by standardized tests. Unfortunately, the results of the trial have not appeared in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, so it is hard to judge them objectively, and we will need to see the results reproduced in other school districts before we can trust them completely, but the results agree with what I have observed generally in a variety of fields, not just singing and math, but writing, drawing, tennis, golf, gardening, and a variety of games, such as Scrabble and crossword solving: People do not stop learning and improving because they have reached some innate limits on their performance; they stop learning and improving because, for whatever reasons, they stopped practicing—or never started.


pages: 346 words: 92,984

The Lucky Years: How to Thrive in the Brave New World of Health by David B. Agus

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3D printing, active transport: walking or cycling, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, butterfly effect, clean water, cognitive dissonance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, Drosophila, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Kickstarter, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, microcredit, mouse model, Murray Gell-Mann, New Journalism, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, phenotype, placebo effect, publish or perish, randomized controlled trial, risk tolerance, statistical model, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Thomas Malthus, wikimedia commons

Most of the data we have on file are observational. Scientists look at a large group of people—some of whom practiced one behavior and others another—and then they study the outcomes, attempting to make the groups equal with respect to other variables, with men and women of roughly the same age in each group, who share similar lifestyles in terms of their diet and exercise habits. These large, randomized controlled trials are the best resource we have to identify behaviors that can alter our risk for disease. The problem is that it is very hard to dictate behavior to a group of people and expect them to be compliant for years and then study an outcome that has a very long lag time, meaning time until the desired effect is seen. Few, if any, scientists want to stake their efforts and career on an experiment that won’t yield a result for a decade or more.


pages: 935 words: 267,358

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, banks create money, Berlin Wall, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, conceptual framework, corporate governance, correlation coefficient, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, demographic transition, distributed generation, diversification, diversified portfolio, European colonialism, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial intermediation, full employment, German hyperinflation, Gini coefficient, high net worth, Honoré de Balzac, immigration reform, income inequality, income per capita, index card, inflation targeting, informal economy, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, market bubble, means of production, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, open economy, pension reform, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, refrigerator car, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, rent-seeking, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Simon Kuznets, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, The Nature of the Firm, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, trade liberalization, very high income, We are the 99%

Some of the problems of health and education the poor countries face today are specific to their situation and cannot really be addressed by drawing on the past experience of today’s developed countries (think of the problem of AIDS, for example). Hence new experiments, perhaps in the form of randomized controlled trials, may be justified. See, for example, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, Poor Economics (New York: Public Affairs, 2012). As a general rule, however, I think that development economics tends to neglect actual historical experience, which, in the context of this discussion, means that too little attention is paid to the difficulty of developing an effective social state with paltry tax revenues. One important difficulty is obviously the colonial past (and therefore randomized controlled trials may offer a more neutral terrain). 50. See Thomas Piketty and Nancy Qian, “Income Inequality and Progressive Income Taxation in China and India: 1986–2015,” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 1, no. 2 (April 2009): 53–63.


pages: 468 words: 150,206

Food Revolution, The: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World by John Robbins, Dean Ornish M. D.

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Albert Einstein, carbon footprint, clean water, complexity theory, double helix, Exxon Valdez, food miles, laissez-faire capitalism, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, profit motive, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Rosa Parks, telemarketer

Dietary intake of total, animal, and vegetable protein and risk of type 2 diabetes in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-NL study. Diabetes Care. 2010; 33:43-48. xiv. Shu XO, Zheng Y, Cai H, et al. Soy food intake and breast cancer survival. JAMA. 2009;302:2437-2443. xv. Beezhold BL, Johnston CS, Daigle DR. Restriction of flesh foods in omnivores improves mood: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Poster presented at: American Public Health Association's 137th Annual Meeting and Exposition; November 9, 2009: Philadelphia, PA. xvi. Brekke HK, Ludvigsson J. Daily vegetable intake during pregnancy negatively associated to islet autoimmunity in the offspring-The ABIS study. Pediatr Diabetes. Advanced access published September 16, 2009. DOI: 10.1111 /j.1399-5448.2009.00563.x. xvii.


pages: 390 words: 115,769

Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World's Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples by John Robbins

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clean water, collective bargaining, Community Supported Agriculture, Donald Trump, happiness index / gross national happiness, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, land reform, life extension, Maui Hawaii, meta analysis, meta-analysis, randomized controlled trial, Silicon Valley, telemarketer

Bortz, We Live Too Short, p. 200. 5. Geoffrey Cowley, “How to live to 100,” Newsweek June 30, 1997. 6. Ibid. 7. Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group, “Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin,” New England Journal of Medicine Feb. 7, 2002, 346(6):393–403. 8. A. C. King et al., “Moderate intensity exercise and self-rated quality of sleep in older adults: A randomized controlled trial,” Journal of the American Medical Association 1997, 277(1):32–37. 9. Bradley J. Willcox, D. Craig Willcox, and Makoto Suzuki, The Okinawa Program: Learn the Secrets to Health and Longevity (Three Rivers Press, 2001), p. 180. 10. P. J. Wade, “Canadian Homeowner and Veteran Celebrates 103rd!” Realty Times Nov. 9, 1999. 11. Thomas T. Perls and Margery Hutter Silver, Living to 100: Lessons in Living to Your Maximum Potential at Any Age (Basic Books, 1999), pp. 109, 153. 12.


pages: 588 words: 131,025

The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine Is in Your Hands by Eric Topol

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23andMe, 3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Anne Wojcicki, Atul Gawande, augmented reality, bioinformatics, call centre, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, computer vision, conceptual framework, connected car, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, dark matter, data acquisition, disintermediation, don't be evil, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Firefox, global village, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, license plate recognition, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, phenotype, placebo effect, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, Snapchat, social graph, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Turing test, Uber for X, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize

DiSanzo, “Op/Ed: Hospital of the Future Will Be a Health Delivery Network,” US News & World Report, January 14, 2014, http://health.usnews.com/health-news/hospital-of-tomorrow/articles/2014/01/14/oped-hospital-of-the-future-will-be-a-health-delivery-network. 3. J. Comstock, “Revisiting How Christensen’s ‘Disruption Innovation’ in Healthcare Means Decentralization,” MobiHealthNews, March 26, 2014, http://mobihealthnews.com/31470/revisiting-how-christensens-disruption-innovation-in-healthcare-means-decentralization/. 4. E. Topol et al., “A Randomized Controlled Trial of Hospital Discharge Three Days After Myocardial Infarction in the Era of Reperfusion,” New England Journal of Medicine 318 (1988): 1083–1088. 5. “American Hospital Association Annual Survey of Hospitals,” in Hospital Statistics, 1976, 1981, 1999–2011 editions (Chicago, IL: American Hospital Association). 6. J. T. James, “A New, Evidence-Based Estimate of Patient Harms Associated with Hospital Care,” Journal of Patient Safety 9, no. 3 (2013): 122–128. 7.


pages: 436 words: 141,321

Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness by Frederic Laloux, Ken Wilber

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Albert Einstein, augmented reality, blue-collar work, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, carbon footprint, conceptual framework, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, failed state, future of work, hiring and firing, index card, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, job satisfaction, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Kenneth Rogoff, meta analysis, meta-analysis, pattern recognition, post-industrial society, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, randomized controlled trial, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, the market place, the scientific method, Tony Hsieh

The baby seems to act like a heart-softening magnet. … ‘Empathy can’t be taught, but it can be caught,’ Gordon often says—and not just by children. ‘Programmatically my biggest surprise was that not only did empathy increase in children, but it increased in their teachers,’ she added. ‘And that, to me, was glorious, because teachers hold such sway over children.’ Scientific studies with randomized control trials have shown extraordinary reductions in ‘proactive aggression’?the deliberate and cold-blooded aggression of bullies who prey on vulnerable kids—as well as ‘relational aggression’?things like gossiping, excluding others, and backstabbing.” David Bornstein, “Fighting Bullying with Babies,” Opinionator, The New York Times, November 8, 2010. For more information, see www.rootsofempathy.org. 74 Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009), 58-59.


pages: 437 words: 115,594

The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World by Steven Radelet

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Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Asian financial crisis, bank run, Berlin Wall, Branko Milanovic, business climate, business process, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, colonial rule, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Doha Development Round, Erik Brynjolfsson, European colonialism, F. W. de Klerk, failed state, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, income inequality, income per capita, invention of the steam engine, James Watt: steam engine, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, land reform, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, oil shock, out of africa, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, Robert Gordon, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Simon Kuznets, South China Sea, special economic zone, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, women in the workforce, working poor

But their conclusions provide little help for people in today’s developing countries, as they suggest that their fate is tied to decisions and actions taken centuries ago or factors outside their control. They do not help us understand the recent acceleration of development progress or the reasons why so many developing countries began to turn at roughly the same time in the 1990s. The second field of research has been the opposite: microlevel studies on the effectiveness of specific actions and programs in particular contexts, often evaluated through rigorous randomized controlled trials (RCTs).III These studies focus on questions such as the impact of pricing on the uptake of insecticide-treated malaria bed nets, whether identity cards reduce theft and improve the delivery of subsidized rice to the poor, and the impact of shouting at bus drivers to get them to drive more safely. (It turns out that it helps, a lot.) RCTs have been brought to prominence through the pathbreaking work of Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), among others.6 These studies offer insights into the nature of poverty at the individual and family levels, the constraints and incentives people face, and the reasons they make the decisions they do.


pages: 387 words: 120,155

Inside the Nudge Unit: How Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference by David Halpern

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, availability heuristic, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, centre right, choice architecture, cognitive dissonance, collaborative consumption, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, endowment effect, happiness index / gross national happiness, hindsight bias, illegal immigration, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, libertarian paternalism, market design, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, nudge unit, peer-to-peer lending, pension reform, presumed consent, quantitative easing, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, Simon Kuznets, skunkworks, the built environment, theory of mind, traffic fines, World Values Survey

Impact of displaying alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages in end-of-aisle locations: an observational study’, Social Science & Medicine, vol.108; 68–73. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.02.032. 2 Neslin, S. A., and Van Heerde, H. J. (2009), Promotion dynamics, 3: 177–268. Chan, T., Narasimhan, C., and Zhang, Q. (2008), ‘Decomposing promotional effects with a dynamic structural model of flexible consumption’, J Mark Res, 45: 487–498. Ni Mhurchu, C., Blakely, T., Jiang, Y., et al. (2010), ‘Effects of price discounts and tailored nutrition education on supermarket purchases: a randomized controlled trial’, Am J Clin Nutr, 91: 736–747. 3 See EAST for a summary of these results in more detail. We also tested adding both the name and the amount. This was slightly more effective than the amount alone, but slightly less effective than the name alone. 4 What’s Psychology Worth? A Field Experiment in the Consumer Credit Market. Bertrand, Karlan, Mullainathan, Shafir and Zinman. 7 June 2005. http://cep.lse.ac.uk/seminarpapers/10-06-05-BER.pdf 5 Slovic, P. (2007).


The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil

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additive manufacturing, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, brain emulation, Brewster Kahle, Brownian motion, business intelligence, c2.com, call centre, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, data acquisition, Dava Sobel, David Brooks, Dean Kamen, disintermediation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, factory automation, friendly AI, George Gilder, Gödel, Escher, Bach, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the telephone, invention of the telescope, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, linked data, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, Mikhail Gorbachev, mouse model, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, oil shale / tar sands, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, phenotype, premature optimization, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, remote working, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, speech recognition, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, The Coming Technological Singularity, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Y2K, Yogi Berra

Chiesa, "Recombinant Apolipoprotein A-I(Milano) Infusion into Rabbit Carotid Artery Rapidly Removes Lipid from Fatty Streaks," Circulation Research 90.9 (May 17, 2002): 974–80; P. K. Shah et al., "High-Dose Recombinant Apolipoprotein A-I(Milano) Mobilizes Tissue Cholesterol and Rapidly Reduces Plaque Lipid and Macrophage Content in Apolipoprotein e-Deficient Mice," Circulation 103.25 (June 26, 2001): 3047–50. 39. S. E. Nissen et al., "Effect of Recombinant Apo A-I Milano on Coronary Atherosclerosis in Patients with Acute Coronary Syndromes: A Randomized Controlled Trial," JAMA 290.17 (November 5, 2003): 2292–2300. 40. A recent phase 2 study reported "markedly increased HDL cholesterol levels and also decreased LDL cholesterol levels," M. E. Brousseau et al., "Effects of an Inhibitor of Cholesteryl Ester Transfer Protein on HDL Cholesterol," New England Journal of Medicine 350.15 (April 8, 2004): 1505–15, http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/abstract/350/15/1505.


pages: 496 words: 174,084

Masterminds of Programming: Conversations With the Creators of Major Programming Languages by Federico Biancuzzi, Shane Warden

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business intelligence, business process, cellular automata, cloud computing, complexity theory, conceptual framework, continuous integration, data acquisition, domain-specific language, Douglas Hofstadter, Fellow of the Royal Society, finite state, Firefox, follow your passion, Frank Gehry, general-purpose programming language, HyperCard, information retrieval, iterative process, John von Neumann, linear programming, loose coupling, Mars Rover, millennium bug, NP-complete, Paul Graham, performance metric, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Renaissance Technologies, Silicon Valley, slashdot, software as a service, software patent, sorting algorithm, Steve Jobs, traveling salesman, Turing complete, type inference, Valgrind, Von Neumann architecture, web application

Any single-assignment language is easier to reason about, but that doesn’t make the programs easier to write, nor is there persuasive evidence that programs are easier to write. In fact, most comparative questions about languages, coding techniques, development methodologies, and software engineering in general, are appallingly unscientific. Here’s a quote from R. Bausell’s Snake Oil Science [Oxford University Press]: Carefully controlled research (such as randomized, controlled trials) involving numerical data has proved more dependable for showing us what works and what does not than has reliance upon expert opinions, experience, hunches, or the teachings of those we revere. Software is still a craft, rather like furniture making. There are Chippendales, there are craftsmen, and there are lesser practitioners. I’m a little far off your original question here.


pages: 685 words: 203,949

The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel J. Levitin

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airport security, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Anton Chekhov, big-box store, business process, call centre, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, cognitive bias, complexity theory, computer vision, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Eratosthenes, Exxon Valdez, framing effect, friendly fire, fundamental attribution error, Golden Gate Park, Google Glasses, haute cuisine, impulse control, index card, indoor plumbing, information retrieval, invention of writing, iterative process, jimmy wales, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, life extension, meta analysis, meta-analysis, more computing power than Apollo, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, phenotype, placebo effect, pre–internet, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, Skype, Snapchat, statistical model, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Turing test, ultimatum game

Decoding the science of sleep. The Wall Street Journal. “. . . your life with your head on a pillow.” Randall, D. K. (2012). Dreamland: Decoding the science of sleep. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company. more effective than the prescription drug Ambien Jacobs, G. D., Pace-Schott, E. F., Stickgold, R., & Otto, M. W. (2004). Cognitive behavior therapy and pharmacotherapy for insomnia: A randomized controlled trial and direct comparison. Archives of Internal Medicine, 164(17), 1888–1896. groggy we were upon waking up Randall, D. K. (2012). Dreamland: Decoding the science of sleep. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company. and, Randall, D. K. (2012, August 3). Decoding the science of sleep. The Wall Street Journal. such as orexin, cortisol, and adrenaline Monti, J., Pandi-Perumal, S. R., Sinton, C.


pages: 1,294 words: 210,361

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

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Barry Marshall: ulcers, conceptual framework, discovery of penicillin, experimental subject, iterative process, life extension, Louis Pasteur, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mouse model, New Journalism, phenotype, randomized controlled trial, scientific mainstream, Silicon Valley, social web, statistical model, stem cell, women in the workforce, éminence grise

Cunningham, “The Breast Cancer Detection Demonstration Project 25 Years Later,” CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians 47, no. 3 (1997): 131–33. 298 Between 1976 and 1992, enormous parallel trials: See below for particular studies. Also see Madelon Finkel, ed., Understanding the Mammography Controversy (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2005), 101–5. 298 In Canada, meanwhile, researchers lurched: A. B. Miller, G. R. Howe, and C. Wall, “The National Study of Breast Cancer Screening Protocol for a Canadian Randomized Controlled Trial of Screening for Breast Cancer in Women,” Clinical Investigative Medicine 4, nos. 3–4 (1981): 227–58. 298 Edinburgh was a disaster: A. Huggins et al., “Edinburgh Trial of Screening for Breast Cancer: Mortality at Seven Years,” Lancet 335, no. 8684 (1990): 241–46; Denise Donovan et al., “Edinburgh Trial of Screening for Breast Cancer,” Lancet 335, no. 8695 (1990): 968–69. 298 The Canadian trial, meanwhile: Miller, Howe, and Wall, “National Study of Breast Cancer Screening Protocol.” 298 For a critical evaluation of the CNBSS, HIP, and Swedish studies, see David Freedman et al., “On the Efficacy of Screening for Breast Cancer,” International Journal of Epidemiology 33, no. 1 (2004): 43–5. 298 Randomization problems in the Canadian National Breast Screening Study: Curtis J.