Pay for performance

What is supposed to work in schools, similarly with alcohol control and Wall Street, seems to operate on belief rather than an examination of what is and then formulating testable ideas on what, if anything, needs doing. Belief is an important factor in “what works”. However, critical thinking and careful use of statistics, among other attributes of sciencing such as multiple working hypotheses, are important to keep us all honest. In the situation of pandemic fatal or crippling disease, wishful thinking or “denial” won’t keep us, at all.


Advocates of using pay to improve teacher performance grow excited over the addition of federal money to supplement local district pay incentives. But maybe they shouldn’t. Contrary to other provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), there is little research to demonstrate that paying a few teachers more will improve student performance. […]

Alaska perspective

Understanding what is right and wrong with the current institutional environment would seem, therefore, to be the key to understanding why spending and performance are not positively correlated.

Binge drinking, not alcoholism

* Many people assume that most people who drink to excess are probably alcoholics.
* A recent survey of 4,761 New Mexico adults found that while 16.5 percent drank alcohol in excess of national guidelines, only 1.8 percent met criteria for alcohol dependence.
* This suggests that a majority of persons at risk for alcohol-related problems are not alcohol dependent.

Most people realize that too much alcohol can lead to multiple health problems, injuries and violence. Numerous statistics support the accuracy of this perception. Many people also assume that a substantial proportion of people who drink to excess are probably alcoholics. This may not be accurate. A recent study of the general population in New Mexico reveals that, in fact, most alcohol-related problems may be due to excessive drinking – especially binge drinking – among persons who are not alcoholics.

The irresistible power of magical thinking

New research demonstrates that habits of so-called magical thinking — the belief, for instance, that wishing harm on a loathed colleague or relative might make him sick — are far more common than people acknowledge.

even at Los Alamos National Laboratory (UC-LANS UC-LANL) and Congress

The representatives love to lash out at Los Alamos without ever addressing the really important problems facing the lab.

They call for more security, more bureaucracy, more procedures, more manuals and more oversight. This was a tradition started by former director Pete Nanos who shutdown the lab for six months to “fix it”. Somehow this culture of “more” is meant to lead an efficient, lean lab.

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