Compassion Meets Skepticism

Development expert William Easterly rides the lecture circuit:

I feel kind of like I am on a long personal intellectual journey trying to figure out how to reconcile my compassion for the world’s poor with my painfully honest realization that there is no reliable evidence on exactly what to do to end poverty. Each new public lecture is trying out a solution to the conundrum on a smart audience, and then they educate me some more to take the next step (which will be tried in the next lecture).

I am trying to convince people that rigorous skepticism is a creative force because most of the damage is done by overconfident people who thought they knew the answer when they didn’t.