Date: Nov 29, 2012 10:36 PM
Author: Richard Hake
Subject: The Randomistas' War On Global Poverty (was Chocolate Makes You<br> Smart)
Some subscribers to Math-Teach might be interested in a recent post
"The Randomistas' War On Global Poverty (was Chocolate Makes You
Smart) [Hake (2012)]. The abstract reads:
ABSTRACT: In my post "Chocolate Makes You Smart!" [Hake (2012a)] at
<http://bit.ly/QheB7E>, I wrote: "While awaiting Randomized Control
Trials (RCT's) in which the inhabitants of randomly selected
countries are provided with placebos in place of chocolate. . . . ."
In response Kevin Laws of the Physoc list pointed to: (a) a movement
called the 'Randomistas' led by MIT economist Esther Duflo
<http://bit.ly/TpiswJ>, which holds that RCT's are neither
"impossible nor immoral in the social sciences, but instead are
required"; and (b) the fact that the Randomistas "have been
responsible for resolving a number of long-standing philosophical
debates with actual RCT data - the effectiveness of mosquito nets,
Although RCT's may be the gold standard in medicine and
global-poverty-reduction research by the Randomistas, they are
certainly not that in education research generally - see e.g., (a)
"Randomized Control Trials: The Strange Case of the Contradictory
Graphs" [Hake (2012b)] at <http://bit.ly/TQdfhX>; (b) "A Response to
'It's Not All About Class Size' " [Hake (2009)] at
<http://bit.ly/KBzuXV>; and (c) the present signature quote.
Nevertheless, RCT's seem to have been used effectively in education
research by the Randomistas according to information at
Despite the Randomista's concern for education, there's no indication
that the "Center for Economic and Policy Research" (CEPR)
<http://bit.ly/U1DTSU>, for which Duflo is a Program Director for
Developmental Economics <http://bit.ly/VgQ3y8>, is aware of the
overriding influence of poverty on the educational achievement of
U.S. children, as emphasized in many references in the present post.
This despite the fact that, according to information at
<http://bit.ly/U1DTSU>, CEPR is concerned in part with "gaps in the
social policy fabric of the U.S. economy."
To access the complete 21 kB post please click on <http://bit.ly/V93tXl>.
Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
Links to Articles: <http://bit.ly/a6M5y0>
Links to Socratic Dialogue Inducing (SDI) Labs: <http://bit.ly/9nGd3M>
"In some quarters, particularly medical ones, the randomized
experiment is considered the causal 'gold standard.' It is clearly
not that in educational contexts, given the difficulties with
implementing and maintaining randomly created groups, with the
sometimes incomplete implementation of treatment particulars, with
the borrowing of some treatment particulars by control group units,
and with the limitations to external validity that often follow from
how the random assignment is achieved."
- Thomas Cook and Monique Payne in "Evidence Matters"
[Mosteller & Boruch (2002)]
REFERENCES [URL shortened by <http://bit.ly/> and accessed on 29 Nov 2012.]
Hake, R.R. 2012a. "The Randomistas' War On Global Poverty (was
Chocolate Makes You Smart)" online on the OPEN! AERA-L archives at
<http://bit.ly/V93tXl>. Post of 29 Nov 2012 14:27:16-0800 to AERA-L
and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the complete post are being
transmitted to several discussion lists and are also on my blog
<http://bit.ly/Rm6Oqw> with a provision for comments.
Hake, R.R. 2012b. "Chocolate Makes You Smart!" online on the OPEN!
AERA-L archives at <http://bit.ly/QheB7E>. Post of 24 Nov 2012
10:34:31-0800 to AERA-L and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the
complete post are being transmitted to several discussion lists and
are also on my blog "Hake'sEdStuff" at <http://bit.ly/10Nkcoa> with a
provision for comments.
Mosteller, F. & R. Boruch, eds. 2002. "Evidence Matters: Randomized
Trials in Education Research." Brookings Institution, publisher's
information at <http://bit.ly/UoX3sA>. Amazon.com information at
<http://amzn.to/n6T0Uo>. An expurgated Google book preview is online