Let me start by saying that literally every social problem humanity now confronts will benefit from taking a rigorous, evidence-based approach to developing interventions that work. If I believe this—you might wonder—why would I title an article this way?
The answer is simply that I have been trying to manifest into the world a science of large-scale social change for 18 years. During that time I have repeatedly found that almost no one gives preference to being effective over the feeling of “being right.” This has been true as I’ve interacted with academic researchers, the staff of numerous nonprofit organizations, program officers and boards of directors at foundations, government personnel providing public services, and among social-impact businesses of various kinds.
So I am shifting gears and no longer attempting to build this grand visionary work. I simply don’t see it as feasible anymore and am going to introspect deeply about what I might do that is of service in times as serious as these when in my heart I now accept that my life’s work cannot succeed. In the spirit of the foundational challenge named in the opening of this essay, I invite you to prove me wrong. Critique and analyze my assumptions. Gather your own data to confront and challenge the argument laid out here. See if you can find a way to birth such an ambitious vision where I have failed to do so.
I would much rather be wrong and see effective solutions emerge than to be right and feel the hollow gratification of saying “I told you so” as the world goes into full-scale systemic collapse in the next few decades.
Onward, fellow humans.