Coming to terms with randomisation

Hugh Laurie as House (Source: Wikipedia)

In my previous post I wrote a bit about RCTs and how they help us to know what does and doesn’t work. This is a very powerful tool for finding out what works but it requires a lot of effort in paperwork, analysis, recruiting participants and controls and in monitoring them. What’s nice is that this effort isn’t always needed. There are times when you can do RCTs with almost no effort and still learn a great deal. The problem is that there can be reluctance to do so.

The inspiration from this is drawn from chapter 5 of Bad Pharma, so if you want more details then you should go read them there. Continue reading

How do we know if something works?

There was an interesting news story in Nature recently about using clinical techniques to analyse international aid projects and see whether they actually work. Obviously this is important because if you’re spending a huge amount of money to uplift people you want to know that it’s actually doing that. If it’s not then you’re wasting your money and aren’t helping anyone. So how do we know if something is working? Continue reading