Around the Institute

True Facts, Truthiness, and Moral Courage

March 20, 2015  • David Devlin-Foltz

RCTs and the limitations of laser pointers…

With thanks to our pal Rhonda Schlangen, we feature this thoughtful piece questioning the value of randomized control trials (RCTs) for public health projects. Writing in Global Health: Science and Practice, James Shelton recognizes RCTs’ role in answering specific medical questions, but necessarily in somewhat artificial situations. But applying them to complex public health interventions in wildly varied environments “is akin to trying to light up a football field with a slowly moving laser pointer—very precise, rigorous, and artificially intense but not very illuminating.” This latest issue includes a rigorous response and continues the dialogue.


Some experts say this is not evil

OK – we are not entitled to our own facts, but we humans tend to select those that reinforce our deep convictions. But what about convictions that are not so deeply held? Turns out: a few selected counter-“facts” can paralyze the public. And here’s the master of seeding doubts about climate change. And check out Merchants of Doubt – in theaters now.  Believe me!


We say this is good

APEP has been working with the American Jewish World Service on assessing its Global Justice Fellowship. The program identifies “moral courage” as a value AJWS seeks to cultivate in the Fellows. But what is it? Here are some answers in an inspiring profile we keep around when we need some.