Apologies for the light posting. I’ve been traveling, writing, and experiencing minor technical difficulties. I’ll have some exciting content for you tomorrow. For now, I’ll share a few stray links, including
(1) an excellent op-ed by Gilbert Welch of Dartmouth, one of the co-authors of Overdiagnosed. He begins by describing the decade-long vogue for hormone replacement therapy that was badly undermined when a randomized trial found that preventive hormone replacement was on net very damaging to human health. And so he calls for devoting more resources to rigorously evaluating standard medical practices that have in many cases emerged out of a combination of folk wisdom, convenience, and self-dealing rather than experimental evidence. One of the things I liked most about the piece is Welch’s amusingly self-effacing conclusion, which (to reveal my own cognitive bias) inclined me to trust him. The Manzians among you will particularly appreciate it.
(3) Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times has written a comprehensive article on the Obama administration’s fitful efforts to address the problem of excessive mortgage debt. Ezra Klein of Wonkbook suggests that President Obama’s reluctance to tackle mortgage debt directly may have contributed to the weakness of the recovery, and that it may well have proven a political vulnerability had Republicans not been equally reluctant to embrace some form of debt forgiveness. I discussed a number of related issues in a recent column for CNN.com.
(4) And though it’s been a few weeks since the Chick-fil-A controvery flared up, I was very impressed by Drake Bennett’s sophisticated take on the cultural politics of one of America’s most successful fast-food chains in Bloomberg Businessweek.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk about adverse selection.