How did you do?
You can check your score using the answers below.
Most people who play the game in this module don’t get a very high score. Why not? You might think that there’s some sort of trick. You might think that we purposefully chose tricky examples in order to trip people up. If we did choose tricky examples, then it’s no surprise if people don’t get many of them right.
Sadly, we didn’t purposefully choose tricky examples. We chose examples that were (1) well-studied, and (2) had a range of effects. How intuitive (or counterintuitive) the examples were was not a factor that we used to select them. The reason why people tend to do poorly on the game is because, as we said, it’s extremely difficult to figure out which programs work. And this means that it’s hard to know which charities to donate to based only on intuition.
Round #1: Scared Straight
Several randomized controlled trials have shown that Scared Straight had a negative effect. Going through Scared Straight made children more likely to commit crimes in the future. Fun fact: Scared Straight programs are still being run today, and people promote them as being effective, despite the fact that they are harmful.
Round #2: Nurse-Family Partnership
Three randomized controlled trials have shown that the Nurse-Family Partnership had a positive effect. The program led to a reduction in child abuse/neglect, child injuries (20-50% reduction) and an improvement in cognitive/educational outcomes for children of mothers with low mental health/confidence/intelligence (e.g., 6 percentile point increase in grade 1-6 in reading/math achievement).
Round #3: Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.)
Two randomized controlled trials have shown that D.A.R.E. did not have an effect on the rate of drug use among participants. The rate of drug use did not increase or decrease.
Round #4: 21st Century Community Learning Centers
A randomized controlled trial has shown that the 21st Century Community Learning Centers had no effect on participating students’ academic performance. Students who participated were neither helped nor harmed by the program.
Round #5: 21st Century Community Learning Centers
A randomized controlled trial has shown that the 21st Century Community Learning Centers had a negative effect, causing an increase in the behavioral problems of participating students.
Round #6: Even Start Family Literacy Program
A randomized controlled trial on a subset of Even Start programs found no effect- no evidence of an increase or decrease in literacy in parents or children.
Round #7: Big Brothers Big Sisters
A randomized controlled trial has shown that Big Brothers Big Sisters had a positive effect, causing youths to be 46% less likely to have started using illegal drugs, 27% less likely to have started using alcohol, 32% less likely to have hit someone in the previous year and fewer days of skipping school during the past year.
Round #8: Top 16 Educational Software
The study described was a randomized controlled trial, and showed that the software had no effect- it did not make a noticeable difference in any of the categories. It did not help or hurt with (1) early reading (first grade), (2) reading comprehension (fourth grade), (3) pre-algebra (sixth grade), or (4) algebra (ninth grade).
Now vote for a great charity with proven results!
We're letting everyone who plays this game vote between two great charities, and we'll donate $100 to the winning charity.
We've seen how important it is to find charities with a proven track record of positive impact. There are experts who specialize in doing just that. Independent charity evaluator GiveWell.org has been called "the gold standard of giving" by the Boston Globe. GiveWell has invested thousands of hours of research to find outstanding giving opportunities. GiveWell has two top recommended charities, which you'll get to pick between.
AMF (www.againstmalaria.com) provides long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (for protection against malaria) in bulk to other organizations, which then distribute them in developing countries.
The Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) assists African governments with treatment of neglected tropical diseases and runs a number of smaller-scale projects (more).
Both charities are executing health programs that deliver significant and very inexpensive help to people in the developing world. Both have strong track records and transparency, as well as concrete plans for how to use future donations.
GiveWell gives both organizations their top recommendation, though GiveWell thinks that AMF is a slightly better giving opportunity. They wrote a blog post comparing AMF and SCI directly, appropriately titled "Deciding Between Two Outstanding Charities". You can vote for one of these outstanding charities by filling out the survey below.