Things I’ve been thinking about: May 1st, 2014

1. Can Elinor Ostrom’s work help us understand what to do about antibacterial resistance? I’ve been reading a lot of Ostrom in an attempt to develop an opinion, but it’s tough going for me. ¬†Econ was never my strong suit. Anyone smarter than me want to chime in and explain it?

2. How do we balance the importance of innovation and learning from our mistakes with the importance of not wasting our finite? Leaving room for failure is important, but people get hurt when we fail. It’s a confusing and ugly dilemma and it’s much less clear-cut than anyone wants to admit. Here’s one interesting take on failure.

3. Worms. The good and the bad. I am now the proud owner of a worm box for composting, which brings me a genuinely embarrassing amount of joy. I have also been thinking about helminthes – the intestinal worms that can lead to malnutrition or even death. I suspect we’re going to find out they matter a lot more for children’s health than anyone ever realized.

4. The new David Roodman / GiveWell report that finds that reducing child mortality does not lead parents to have fewer children. When I was writing What’s Killing Us, I looked for research linking reduced child mortality to a decrease in fertility rate. I assumed it was true. It seems true. Heck, it seems obvious. But I couldn’t any definitive research indicating it was true, so I left the claim out. Interesting to see that backed but by someone who did a serious study.

(photo credit: me)