RCT is not the “gold standard” of doing applied social science and economics

3 May, 2012 at 14:48 | Posted in Statistics & Econometrics, Theory of Science & Methodology | Leave a comment

In an extremely interesting video (just scroll down a bit on the page) Angus Deaton explains why Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) is not at all the “gold standard” that it has lately often been portrayed as. As yours truly has repeatedly argued (here here here) on this blog, RCTs usually do not provide evidence that their results are exportable to other target systems. The almost religious belief with which its propagators portray it, cannot hide the fact that RCTs cannot be taken for granted to give generalizable results. That something works somewhere is no warranty for it to work for us or even that it works generally.

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