The illusionist.

Top Line: Here’s an interesting (disturbing?) look at professionals’ takes on randomized trials.
The Study: Pretesting across a variety of professions spanning medicine to the automotive industry was used to create 16 online vignettes to gauge respective professional opinions on the implementation of either of what were determined to be two unobjectionable policies “A” or “B” versus a randomized trial to assess “A versus B.” Looking at responses from almost 9K highly-educated participants spanning diverse populations and careers, the results are quite shocking. Comparative effectiveness trials (“A versus B”) were consistently rated as inappropriate at roughly twice the rate as top-down, non-data driven universal implementations of either (either!) “A” or “B.” The authors bounce around a number of theories to explain this phenomenon, and at the top of the list is the “illusion” of professionals that they know best and must protect consumers from decisions left to chance—even decisions between two acceptable alternatives. Psychology at its most disappointing.
Bottom Line: There is a real mistrust among professionals when allowing consumers to be formally randomized to one of two interventions, even when they themselves are comfortable recommending either intervention at random. | Meyer, PNAS 2019


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