No one questions President Obama’s insistence that public funds should go to social programs that work and not to those that don’t. The controversy is about how we know what works, and the types of evidence that prudent investors should consider credible. The answers to these questions, like so much else in today’s discourse, have become polarized into two camps.

The Experimentalists assert that trustworthy evidence comes only out of experimental evaluations, where participants that get...

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