Larry Dershem's blog

The Importance of Learning from “Effects of Causes” and “Causes of Effects” in International Development

The British philosopher, John Stuart Mill, suggested two approaches to learning about “what works” in the real world: 1) forward causal questioning by studying “effects of causes” and 2) reverse causal investigation by studying “causes of effects.” Tracking and learning from both approaches to learning about “what works” should be prioritized in international development.

When "Strong Evidence" is Not Sufficient

In the fall of 2017, a major fire engulfed and devastated Southern California, especially Napa and Sonoma counties, charring nearly a quarter of a million acres of land and thousands of homes. Generally, this area is foggy and cool, due to moisture-laden air blowing in from the Pacific and vegetation is ample but damp; however, prior to the fire, the usual winds switched direction coming from the arid east, causing plummeting humidity and drying vegetation.

When “Strong Evidence” Is Not Sufficient

In the fall of 2017, a major fire engulfed and devastated Southern California, especially Napa and Sonoma counties, charring nearly a quarter of a million acres of land and thousands of homes. Generally, this area is foggy and cool, due to moisture-laden air blowing in from the Pacific and vegetation is ample but damp; however, prior to the fire, the usual winds switched direction coming from the arid east, causing plummeting humidity and drying vegetation.

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