Steve Ziliak wrote in:
I thought you might be interested in the following exchanges on randomized trials:
Here are a few exchanges on the economics and ethics of randomized controlled trials, reacting to my [Zilliak’s] study with Edward R. Teather-Posadas, “The Unprincipled Randomization Principle in Economics and Medicine”.
Our study is forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook of Professional Economic Ethics (OUP 2014, eds. George DeMartino and Deirdre N. McCloskey).
Reaction by Casey Mulligan, in The New York Times.
In the Financial Times, by Tim Harford aka “The Undercover Economist”.
Here is a reaction by Jed Friedman, a Senior Economist at the World Bank.
And here is our reply to Friedman.
In reply, I pointed to this article of mine on experimental reasoning in social science, where I discuss the following questions:
1. Why do I agree with the consensus characterization of randomized experimentation as a gold standard?
2. Given point 1 above, why does almost all my research use observational data?
Ziliak wrote back:
Your numbers 1 and 2 remind me of a mathematician-philosopher friend, Raymond Smullyan, a master of self-defeating statements.
I was very happy to be compared with the great Smullyan. Ziliak continued:
Raymond is awesome! I first got to know him in ’85/’86, when I was an undergrad at Indiana Bloomington. Smullyan was on the faculty of philosophy, math, and computer science, hired there by Doug Hofstadter if I correctly recall. But Ray was close to retirement (so to speak: he currently, at age 95, has at least four books in progress) and he’d walk the town of Bloomington, eating in diners, sitting under a flowering tree, or just walking and smiling like a living statue of Buddha. I started to talking to him at a diner we frequented.
More than 20 years later I got in touch with him and invited him to Roosevelt U in Chicago for several days of lecturing, piano playing, and magic tricks. He swept people off their feet and all the ladies – and taxi drivers, too – wanted to take a picture with him.
Here are some attempts at Smullyanism I [Ziliak] wrote to introduce him to the Roosevelt faculty (or rather reintroduce: he taught here in 1955):
1. I refuse to mention Raymond Smullyan’s name.
2. I can’t say anything more with this sentence.
3. Who can remain silent when talking about Raymond?
4. Introducing Raymond Smullyan, who needs no introduction.
P.S. He’s Ziliak, not Zilliak. I just went through and corrected the spelling.