I am an empiricalist

That is, I believe in evidence, and try to work with it as much as possible, where ever it is possible the response to questions like what should we do, or how should we do it*, the response should be what does the evidence say works? I support MSF and they recently sent me a letter asking what they should concentrate on, all the goals where good ones, I don’t remember exactly but they where things like “vaccinations” “child and maternal health care” “emergency medicines in natural disasters”  they didn’t have an option for “ask your epidemiologists” or “whatever is the most cost-effective” I trust the evidence, when it exists**.

I heard an interview with the writers of this book, which I am going to order and am really looking forward to reading, as economics is another area where evidence based policy has the ability to do a great deal of good, in the podcast they talk about the case of anti mosquito nets in malaria prone area. Mosquito nets are a great public health buy, they are cheap, malaria is a debilitating condition, you don’t need to refrigerate nets, so you can get them where you don’t have a cold supply chain you don’t a doctor or a nurse to give them out, and they are cheap as all get out.
There is a belief in a lot of lot of economics that people who don’t pay for things, wont appreciate them, in this case this belief turned out to be just so/ magical thinking, in the case of mosquito nets this turned out not to be the case people who were given free mosquito nets where no less likely to correctly use mosquito nets than those who paid most or all of the cost of the nets. They also found that a lot more people took up free mosquito nets, so while the mainstream thought in economics leads to suboptimal behaviour, and well designed studies can disprove this thought.

To quote a book on evidence based policy I wish I could remember the name of I dream of the world where people will ask “are you a real doctor or just an MD?”.

*No I don’t mean for questions like what should be had for lunch
** this is a major issue in a lot of areas, when I ran into what I thought where side effects of testosterone I was shocked to discover how little evidence, how much work had not been done in the HRT for trans people, rather than say research into whether or not we can also write off queer trans men as perverts as well.

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