In public debates about public policies and medical treatments, in particular, the word “effective” or “successful” is used in reference to something one individual or party is arguing is achieving its desired aim. Very often, it is taken for granted that we all know what “effective” means.  

Much less attention goes towards exploring what exactly the word “effective” means:  Short-term vs. long-term effects? Alleviation of surface symptoms vs. deeper changes?  

Depending on the precise definition reached for “effective” or “successful,” very different conclusions may be reached as to whether a particular policy or treatment is, in fact, “effective” or “successful.”