Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Efficacy vs Effectiveness

The only way to get effectiveness is by removing all inefficiencies, thus making everything effective. The reason I'm drawing this conclusion is that effectiveness cannot be measured without efficiency at a base level because you must have something to measure it against. For example if there were no such thing as gravity then we couldn't know how high or low anything was until we established some kind of standard for comparison.

Only by removing all inefficiencies can we truly know what efficiency is, and then only by comparing it to the standard of zero inefficiency.

Now that we know what efficiency is, the only way to get effectiveness is by removing all inefficiencies. Thus making everything effective.

In other words, the way to get effectiveness is by getting rid of all inefficiency.

And by inefficiency I mean anything that's not effective.

Inefficiency is everything that isn't effective.

Trying to measure efficacy and effectiveness is a fool's errand: all you can do is evaluate the result of an action. For example, if I took a cup of water out of my refrigerator, it would be effective to put that same cup on the table in front of me; but not very efficacious as I'd need to repeat this process until I had enough cups for everyone at the dinner party. It could even (arguably) be considered highly inefficacious because it might cause conflict with someone else who also needed that cup.

Measuring efficacy or effectiveness is a matter of the action's context, which is impossible to determine. For example, one might consider it more efficacious and effective to fly from San Francisco to Los Angeles on an airplane than by car but less so if there were a terrorist attack at LAX; this doesn't mean that flying would be ineffective in general.

I have come to understand that it is very hard for humans to draw the distinction between efficacy and effectiveness. It's a bit like asking the difference between a dog and a cat: they're different species, but people in general can't tell them apart. They both have four legs, fur, tails, whiskers etc.

What I see is that efficacy and effectiveness are two different things. Efficacy is a measure of how well something works, whereas effectiveness is a measure of how much of an impact it has.

An example of efficacy is a hammer. A hammer can drive nails into wood really well. You can have the best hammer in the world, and it will be extremely good at driving nails into wood.

An example of effectiveness is a whistle. A whistle can alert people to your location, and it's really effective at doing that.

I don't see any difference between these two ideas. A good hammer is just as effective at alerting people to your presence, as a whistle.

The main problem with humans is that they are unable to tell the difference between these two ideas. They conflate them, and refer to something as 'effective' when what they really mean is 'efficacious'.

First, I'm not sure I understand the difference between effectiveness and efficiency. The definitions seem to be similar in that they both measure some type of return on investment. Perhaps it is better to consider them synonyms rather than differentiating them.

Effectiveness is the ratio of desired output to input and efficiency is the ratio of actual output to input. The desirable aspect of effectiveness is that it can be used by people as well as machines. Humans have a strong desire for control over their lives, so they tend not to want things done 'in an efficient way'. Efficiency works well in factories and computers because humans are less invested with how things are done. They just care about results.

Another advantage of effectiveness is that it can be used to consider the long term effects of actions. If a certain action will have great results in the future, but mediocre results now, it might make sense to wait for those better results instead.

However, effectiveness has one major disadvantage. It doesn't take into account how the desired effect is achieved.

That is one of the biggest differences between humans and machines. Humans often have a moral sense which causes them to care about how things are done, even if it makes no difference in the result.

For example, if a person has to steal food to survive, they will not enjoy the meal. They would prefer to do something else like work hard for their food or pay someone with money for it.

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