Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure by Tim Harford

Selection

  • Adaption requires variation and selection and it can be very difficult to distinguish between what is working and what is not. British sailors use to think that the lack of beer caused scurvy as the symptoms of scurvy often showed up on long voyages when the beer ran out. This is a fine example of the correlation/causation problem. Although some questions do not lend themselves to controlled experimentation, we need to set up experiments when possible and examine all available evidence with care. Sometimes big pushes from governments may be necessary, but there is no convincing evidence that even wealthy democratic governments are generally successful in steering the economy.
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