Contract Farming and Food Security: Slides of my Presentation at the CSAE Conference

This past Sunday I was presenting at the annual conference of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford. The topic of my talk was “Smallholder Participation in Contract Farming and Food Security,” a paper in which my coauthor Lindsey Novak and I look at the relationship between smallholder participation in agricultural value chains and the duration of the hungry season–how many months those households went without eating three meals a day over the last year–experienced by those smallholder households in Madagascar.

In our paper, we find that Continue reading

Does Wine Cause Migraines? Some (Self-Administered) RCT Results

For the past five years at least, I have been suffering from migraines. Though I don’t suffer from “classic” migraines–I don’t have the painful headaches that force one to lie down in a darkened room, for instance–my migraines are debilitating enough, as they make me sensitive to light (and sometimes to noise), they can last up to seven days, and in the worst of cases, I have severe nausea and have to spend a few days in bed while I recover.

My migraines have gotten a lot better since coming to Minnesota, thank God, but one of the things I have been abstaining from these past few years has been drinking wine, because wine is often thought to cause migraines. The upside is that I have discovered the wonderful world of whiskeys as a result of not drinking wine; the downside is… Well, having to abstain from wine is a serious downside.

After a few years of not drinking wine and still suffering from migraines, I decided at the beginning of this year to determine once and for all whether my migraines were actually caused by drinking wine. So I did something simple enough: I ran an RCT on myself. I took a spreadsheet and, for a period of 50 days, I decided to randomize each day into treatment (i.e., a day where I would drink wine) and control (i.e., a day where I would abstain from wine). Continue reading

A Twitter Conversation on Confirmation Bias and the NYT’s Evidence-Based Wishful Thinking

Following up on Monday’s post, here is a “conversation” I had on Twitter earlier this week about my post on the New York Times’ love of “evidence-based wishful thinking.”

I’m glad Lawrence Haddad (whose work I’ve been reading and admiring since my second semester in grad school) got the final word–and was not afraid to call a spade a spade in his last tweet.