Imagine that you're running a charity. Suppose you have evidence showing that your charity is highly effective -- that you are really making a difference in people’s lives. In your fundraising campaign, should you emphasize how effective you are?
In a new study, Yale University economist Dean Karlan and Clemson University economist Daniel Wood offer a surprising answer. It turns out that large donors respond positively to statistical evidence of effectiveness -- but small donors respond negatively. There’s a major lesson here for the charitable sector, and the lesson has implications for other activities and institutions, including political campaigns, health education and various businesses.… Seguir leyendo »
Imagine that for most of your life, you have been preparing for the Olympics. You are intensely competitive, and you badly want to win. But you know that in your event, only one person can win Olympic gold, and that only three can bring home a medal. Silver is better than bronze, of course; it’s great to be third in the world, but it’s even better to be second.
Or is it?
Research suggests that in the Olympics, those who finish third are likely to be a lot happier than those who finish second. The reason is that much of our thinking is based on counterfactuals.… Seguir leyendo »
Although the Supreme Court banned capital punishment for child rape last week, the justices have made it clear that for homicide, states may inflict the ultimate penalty. Last month, capital punishment resumed after a seven-month moratorium. Rapid scheduling of executions followed the Supreme Court's ruling in Baze v. Rees, reaffirming the constitutionality of the death penalty in general and lethal injection in particular.
To support their competing conclusions on the legal issue, different members of the court invoked work by each of us on the deterrent effects of the death penalty. Unfortunately, they misread the evidence.
Justice John Paul Stevens cited recent research by Wolfers (with co-author John Donohue) to justify the claim that "there remains no reliable statistical evidence that capital punishment in fact deters potential offenders."… Seguir leyendo »