On the limits of randomization

16 March, 2014 at 18:23 | Posted in Statistics & Econometrics | 1 Comment

In the video below, Angus Deaton — Professor of International Affairs and Professor of Economics and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School and the Economics Department at Princeton — explains why using Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) is not at all the “gold standard” that it has lately often been portrayed as. control-group1-2As yours truly has repeatedly argued on this blog (e.g. here and here), 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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  1. Yes, the problem with reproducibility, or rather the lack of it, is that we are fixed at the descriptive level and we need to move strongly to the explanatory level.


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