Question 22

Coordinatorsub-sub-post 1 Comment

What is, from your perspective, the “bottom-line” statement about the usefulness of RCTs for impact assessment in development?

Editors: RCT or not RCT? It all depends on the question. A method among many others, to be used carefully and cautiously.

Lant: I think T.S. Eliot’s passage from the Four Quartets is relevant:

So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years-

Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l’entre deux guerres-

Trying to use words, and every attempt

Is a wholy new start, and a different kind of failure

Because one has only learnt to get the better of words

For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which

One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture

Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate,

With shabby equipment always deteriorating

In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,

Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer

By strength and submission, has already been discovered

Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope

To emulate – but there is no competition –

There is only the fight to recover what has been lost

And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions

That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.

For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.