Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
#1
Old 01-06-2013, 10:03 AM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Southern Pennsylvania
Posts: 21,599
Good examples of: Correlation doesn't prove Causation

I would like some good concrete examples that demonstrate the phrase: Correlation doesn't prove Causation.

I understand the phrase, I do not dispute it, but right at this moment am having some troubles coming up with some examples.
#2
Old 01-06-2013, 10:08 AM
Charter Member
Moderator
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 73,691
Are you interested just in cases where A does not cause B nor B A, or in cases where there's no connection at all?

If the former, my favorite one is ice cream and snakebites. Both geographically and temporally, there's a very strong correlation between sales of ice cream and the incidence of snakebites. But ice cream does not cause snakebites, nor do snakebites cause consumption of ice cream.
#3
Old 01-06-2013, 10:13 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 3,040
Quote:
Originally Posted by Khadaji View Post
I would like some good concrete examples that demonstrate the phrase: Correlation doesn't prove Causation.

I understand the phrase, I do not dispute it, but right at this moment am having some troubles coming up with some examples.
A good example would be where the underlying causes are the same leading to a strong correlation, but the two factors are not causes in itself.

For example one might expect to see a strong correlation between those who wear XXXL clothing and incidents of heart disease, but wearing XXXL clothing does not cause heart disease and neither does having heart disease cause one to wear XXXL clothing, instead they are linked by their common cause (obesity).

Last edited by Asympotically fat; 01-06-2013 at 10:16 AM.
#4
Old 01-06-2013, 10:15 AM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: California
Posts: 38,325
Dark skin and sickle cell anemia? People with dark skin are more prone to sickle cell because some of their ancestors came from regions where conditions favored both darker skin and malaria resistance, not because dark skin causes sickle cell or the other way around.
#5
Old 01-06-2013, 10:19 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 14,352
Symptoms of autism are often becoming evident to parents around the age at which vaccines are administered.
#6
Old 01-06-2013, 10:22 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Hattusas
Posts: 689
This xkcd cartoon
#7
Old 01-06-2013, 10:22 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2001
Location: England
Posts: 56,974
There are also variants of this that draw inference from vacuous or universal truths - as seen in The Dread Tomato Addiction - one point of which is: Everyone who has eaten tomatoes may be expected to eventually die - of course, this is just because everybody dies.
#8
Old 01-06-2013, 10:22 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 6,228
Two recent examples I've particularly liked are:

The first because of the fact that it was actually published claiming a causal relation via the statistical correlation (and in the New England Journal of Medicine, no less), and the second one because maybe people finally stop listening to those anti-vax nutters, seeing how they're now obligated to also become anti-organics...
#9
Old 01-06-2013, 10:25 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: NY but not NYC
Posts: 29,449
There are dozens of factors that correlate with the results of presidential elections, from the height of woman's skirts to whether the Redskins win on the previous Sunday.

Weird predictors.

Strange predictors.

Those are from this year's campaigns. If you go back in time you'll find a gazillion others.
#10
Old 01-06-2013, 10:31 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: SEC
Posts: 13,738
Days of high umbrella sales see higher incidences of traffic accidents.
#11
Old 01-06-2013, 10:32 AM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: California
Posts: 38,325
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
Ha! I haven't seen that one in years.
#12
Old 01-06-2013, 10:38 AM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Southern Pennsylvania
Posts: 21,599
All great examples. Thanks!

I got what I need, so we can drop it if you guys want; but - some of these are really fun, so we can keep 'em coming if you want too.
#13
Old 01-06-2013, 10:55 AM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 8,381
The late great science writer Stephen Jay Gould used the following example in The Mismeasure of Man:

"...Gould said that the measures of the changes, over time, in 'my age, the population of México, the price of Swiss cheese, my pet turtle’s weight, and the average distance between galaxies' have a high, positive correlation — yet that correlation does not indicate that Gould’s age increased because the Mexican population increased."
#14
Old 01-06-2013, 10:58 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: rhode island
Posts: 37,755
One that consternates many, smoking does not cause lung cancer. There is a correlation, smoking is a key factor, but not the cause.
#15
Old 01-06-2013, 11:56 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Pacific Northwest
Posts: 10,933
The per capita rate of homicides by firearms in the US is not correlated with lack of gun controls. (Or so will a lot of gun enthusiasts argue).
#16
Old 01-06-2013, 12:01 PM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 676
How about adopting does not cause an infertile couple to get pregnant?
#17
Old 01-06-2013, 12:09 PM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Lincoln Park, Chicago
Posts: 6,203
My favorite is a study that showed a strong positive correlation between vocabulary and height (as in, tallness of the individual).

The kicker was that the subjects were all grade-school children.
#18
Old 01-06-2013, 12:11 PM
Member
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 2,890
The classic when I was in college was the study in the 50s (40s?) that showed a correlation between listening to opera and juvenile delinquency. Of course this was when there was a prevalence of Italian gangs.
#19
Old 01-06-2013, 12:14 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Tysons Corner, VA, USA
Posts: 11,544
Here's another XKCD that has actual data in it that shows that cancer cases have leveled off and started to decline as the number of cell phone users rises.
#20
Old 01-06-2013, 01:05 PM
Member
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Boulder, CO
Posts: 3,484
Quote:
Originally Posted by CookingWithGas View Post
Here's another XKCD that has actual data in it that shows that cancer cases have leveled off and started to decline as the number of cell phone users rises.
And just to expand the xkcd-fest. Reading xkcd is (geographically) correlated with reading Martha Stewart living, and consuming furry porn, just because all three are correlated with "places people live".
#21
Old 01-06-2013, 01:38 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 45,313
The whole abortion/breast cancer bruhaha.
#22
Old 01-06-2013, 02:42 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: U.K.
Posts: 12,068
Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
One that consternates many, smoking does not cause lung cancer. There is a correlation, smoking is a key factor, but not the cause.
I am about as sure as can be that is not true, and causality has been decisively demonstrated. That is why, apart from doing correlational studies on human populations, scientists also did experimental animal studies to demonstrate a true causal link. Possibly more scientific effort went into demonstrating real causality here than into demonstrating causality in any other case. Tobacco companies fought tooth and nail against having warnings printed on cigarette packs and smoking restrictions imposed, on the basis of mere correlations, which is why a lot of scientific effort went into proving real causality.

You do understand, do you, that something can be a cause - even a major cause, even the most important cause, in practice - without being the only significant causal factor, and even without being either a sufficient or necessary cause?

There is really no such thing as THE cause of anything. There are always multiple causal factors for any event.

Certainly smoking is not a sufficient or necessary cause of lung cancer. It does not follow from that that it is not an important cause, and it may be (actually, I am fairly confident it is) true that in most populations with a fairly high incidence of smoking it is the most practically significant cause: the factor that, out of all those you could actually change, if you removed it you would do the most to reduce the incidence of the cancer.
#23
Old 01-06-2013, 02:49 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 2001
Location: In another castle
Posts: 18,988
Here's my favorite example of a spurious correlation:

Write down the number zero on a piece of paper (or a spreadsheet). Flip a coin 100 times. Each time it comes up heads, add one to the previous number; each time it comes up tails, subtract one.

Do this twice, and compute the correlation between the two series. Roughly one sixth of the time the magnitude of the correlations will be greater than 0.7 even though there's no relationship between them, and no joint cause.
#24
Old 01-06-2013, 03:19 PM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Alberta Canada
Posts: 4,482
Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
One that consternates many, smoking does not cause lung cancer. There is a correlation, smoking is a key factor, but not the cause.
Quote:
Originally Posted by njtt View Post
I am about as sure as can be that is not true, and causality has been decisively demonstrated. That is why, apart from doing correlational studies on human populations, scientists also did experimental animal studies to demonstrate a true causal link. Possibly more scientific effort went into demonstrating real causality here than into demonstrating causality in any other case. Tobacco companies fought tooth and nail against having warnings printed on cigarette packs and smoking restrictions imposed, on the basis of mere correlations, which is why a lot of scientific effort went into proving real causality.

You do understand, do you, that something can be a cause - even a major cause, even the most important cause, in practice - without being the only significant causal factor, and even without being either a sufficient or necessary cause?

There is really no such thing as THE cause of anything. There are always multiple causal factors for any event.

Certainly smoking is not a sufficient or necessary cause of lung cancer. It does not follow from that that it is not an important cause, and it may be (actually, I am fairly confident it is) true that in most populations with a fairly high incidence of smoking it is the most practically significant cause: the factor that, out of all those you could actually change, if you removed it you would do the most to reduce the incidence of the cancer.
If you attempt to take tripolar's argument to its logical conclusion, the ONLY thing that causes death is cessation of brain activity. All other supposed causes just correlate with death.

Last edited by Canadjun; 01-06-2013 at 03:20 PM.
#25
Old 01-06-2013, 03:32 PM
Guest
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Vermont
Posts: 11,805
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
There are also variants of this that draw inference from vacuous or universal truths - as seen in The Dread Tomato Addiction - one point of which is: Everyone who has eaten tomatoes may be expected to eventually die - of course, this is just because everybody dies.
Except, that means tomato consumption and death aren't correlated in the first place, making it a fairly terrible example of the phrase quoted by the OP, and a good example of how the phrase if often abused.

Last edited by Simplicio; 01-06-2013 at 03:34 PM.
#26
Old 01-06-2013, 03:36 PM
BANNED
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 1,991
If I remeber correctly, someone did a correlation analysis (or whatever it is called) of all the statistics that the UN had, and butter production in bangladesh is the best predictor of the US stock market
#27
Old 01-06-2013, 03:39 PM
BANNED
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 1,991
I found a cite for my assertion. In fact, it turns out it's not just bangladeshi butter prices. You have to combine butter production in bangladesh, US cheese production, and the sheep population in both countries.

If you do this then you will predict 99% of moves in the S&P. So long as you perform this exercise in the late 80s and early 90s...
#28
Old 01-06-2013, 03:58 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 11,498
A little boy I know thought that only balloons attached to strings would float. He knew that balloons without strings did not float. He said that to keep a balloon from floating away, people should cut off its string.
#29
Old 01-06-2013, 04:10 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Sep 1999
Posts: 2,112
You can find a bunch of graphical examples on line. From a quick image search --

Import more lemons to decrease traffic fatalities

Global warming is caused by the decline of the pirate trade

Organic food causes autism

Christianity and obesity
#30
Old 01-06-2013, 04:20 PM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 434
Quote:
Originally Posted by Khadaji View Post
I would like some good concrete examples that demonstrate the phrase: Correlation doesn't prove Causation.

I understand the phrase, I do not dispute it, but right at this moment am having some troubles coming up with some examples.
Well the one I heard years ago which is these days very politically incorrect is that in many cities ice cream consumption has a positive correlation with rape. (IE when ice cream consumption is up so is rape.) From what I remember of that (and it's been years since I last heard it) basically it amounted to rapes go up in the summer and so does ice cream consumption.
#31
Old 01-06-2013, 04:55 PM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Edmonton, AB, Canada
Posts: 4,015
People who eat Count Chocula for breakfast have a lower cancer rate than people who eat oatmeal for breakfast.
#32
Old 01-06-2013, 04:55 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: rhode island
Posts: 37,755
Quote:
Originally Posted by njtt View Post
I am about as sure as can be that is not true, and causality has been decisively demonstrated. That is why, apart from doing correlational studies on human populations, scientists also did experimental animal studies to demonstrate a true causal link. Possibly more scientific effort went into demonstrating real causality here than into demonstrating causality in any other case. Tobacco companies fought tooth and nail against having warnings printed on cigarette packs and smoking restrictions imposed, on the basis of mere correlations, which is why a lot of scientific effort went into proving real causality.

You do understand, do you, that something can be a cause - even a major cause, even the most important cause, in practice - without being the only significant causal factor, and even without being either a sufficient or necessary cause?

There is really no such thing as THE cause of anything. There are always multiple causal factors for any event.

Certainly smoking is not a sufficient or necessary cause of lung cancer. It does not follow from that that it is not an important cause, and it may be (actually, I am fairly confident it is) true that in most populations with a fairly high incidence of smoking it is the most practically significant cause: the factor that, out of all those you could actually change, if you removed it you would do the most to reduce the incidence of the cancer.
The whole point of this thread is to point out the difference between correlation and causation. The scientific evidence clearly shows that smoking does not cause lung cancer. A possible candidate for the cause of the disease is a virus, and smoking likely causes cell damage that allows this virus to infect the lungs. If that is the case, it's possible that lung cancer vaccine can be developed. If that happened people who smoked would no longer get lung cancer. They would just die from other heart and lung related diseases, and other forms of cancer if those aren't caused by the same virus. Strong correlations, even extremely strong correlations do not equate to causation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadjun View Post
If you attempt to take tripolar's argument to its logical conclusion, the ONLY thing that causes death is cessation of brain activity. All other supposed causes just correlate with death.
That is what would be called an illogical conclusion because it has nothing what-so-ever to do with my post.
#33
Old 01-06-2013, 05:31 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Chicago Il
Posts: 9,479
Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
The scientific evidence clearly shows that smoking does not cause lung cancer. A possible candidate for the cause of the disease is a virus, and smoking likely causes cell damage that allows this virus to infect the lungs. If that is the case, it's possible that lung cancer vaccine can be developed. If that happened people who smoked would no longer get lung cancer. They would just die from other heart and lung related diseases, and other forms of cancer if those aren't caused by the same virus.
Do you have a cite for this? I'm not saying you're incorrect but this really is something I've never heard before and I'd be facinated to read more but my Google-fu is really weak.
#34
Old 01-06-2013, 06:43 PM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: BOWLING BALL MUFFINS
Posts: 1,850
One famous example is part of the Flying Spaghetti Monster religion, where it correlates the number of pirates with global temperature rise.
#35
Old 01-06-2013, 06:55 PM
Guest
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Vermont
Posts: 11,805
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yumblie View Post
One famous example is part of the Flying Spaghetti Monster religion, where it correlates the number of pirates with global temperature rise.
Not really much of an example, given that the X-axis looks like it was created by a random number generator.
#36
Old 01-06-2013, 07:18 PM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 11,049
Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
The whole point of this thread is to point out the difference between correlation and causation. The scientific evidence clearly shows that smoking does not cause lung cancer. A possible candidate for the cause of the disease is a virus, and smoking likely causes cell damage that allows this virus to infect the lungs. If that is the case, it's possible that lung cancer vaccine can be developed. If that happened people who smoked would no longer get lung cancer. They would just die from other heart and lung related diseases, and other forms of cancer if those aren't caused by the same virus. Strong correlations, even extremely strong correlations do not equate to causation.
Even if this is true (and i doubt it is) it remains a perfect example of a causative effect. Causative effects don't have to be direct to be causative.

In both science and law, what you just described is known as a proximate cause. It's a cause that is directly linked to, and directly causative of, the immediate cause. It's a chain of causation.

To give you a more obvious example: Being shot in the heart is a proximate cause of death. The actual cause of death is related to a loss of oxygenation of the brain. It's perfectly possible to shoot someone who is already on a heart-lung machine and have no effect on their health, so clearly being shot in the heart is not directly causative of death.

But in science, law and common speech, we refer to being shot in the heart as being a cause of death. And even if smoking tobacco causes cancer by increasing the risk of infection by a ubiquitous virus, it is still the cause of cancer because there is a direct causative chain. Smoking causes the infection and the infection causes the cancer.

A relationship doesn't have to be direct to be considered causative. This is a good thing because, as the gunshot example shows, most effects in the real world have an extremely extended chain of causes.

A relationship only becomes purely correlative when the two factors are not part of a causal chain. Using an example given earlier: buying ice cream does not in any way lead to being bitten by a snake. It doesn't cause human behaviour that leads to snakebites. It doesn't affect the behaviour of snakes. There is simply no chain of causation. It is purely correlative because both observations have a common cause: temperature. They don't cause one another, they both share a cause.
#37
Old 01-06-2013, 07:19 PM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 1,560
Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
The whole point of this thread is to point out the difference between correlation and causation. The scientific evidence clearly shows that smoking does not cause lung cancer. A possible candidate for the cause of the disease is a virus, and smoking likely causes cell damage that allows this virus to infect the lungs. If that is the case, it's possible that lung cancer vaccine can be developed. If that happened people who smoked would no longer get lung cancer. They would just die from other heart and lung related diseases, and other forms of cancer if those aren't caused by the same virus. Strong correlations, even extremely strong correlations do not equate to causation.



That is what would be called an illogical conclusion because it has nothing what-so-ever to do with my post.
That is causality; an indirect cause is still a cause. You can determine whether something is causation or correlation by controlling one of the factors. If you take two groups of people and have half of them stop smoking, they will have less lung cancer, hence there is a cause and effect relationship present. Conversely, in the example of the ice cream sales/homicides correlation, decreasing one will not affect the other.

The fact that theoretically you may be able to separate the cause from the effect by disrupting the method of action doesn't mean it's not currently a causal relationship.

Edit: Ninja'ed by Blake. What he said.

Last edited by Shmendrik; 01-06-2013 at 07:21 PM.
#38
Old 01-06-2013, 07:25 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: U.K.
Posts: 12,068
Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
The whole point of this thread is to point out the difference between correlation and causation. The scientific evidence clearly shows that smoking does not cause lung cancer. A possible candidate for the cause of the disease is a virus, and smoking likely causes cell damage that allows this virus to infect the lungs.
If that I so (and I would like to see a cite that this is anything more than a speculative theory) it nevertheless remains the case that smoking causes (and is not merely correlated with) lung cancer. You appear to be quite badly confused about the logic of causation. No event has a single cause. They all have indefinitely many, and a cause of a cause of X is itself a cause of X.

And, in this case, whether or not a virus is involved (and even if the virus is always involved, i.e., it is a necessary cause) it remains the case that, as things are, refraining from smoking will greatly improve your chances of avoiding cancer. It is a cause. The connection is absolutely not mere correlation. (Neither is it what most of the examples in this thread are: a case where two things are correlated because they are both effects of a common cause.)

What you mean, I think, is that smoking is not a sufficient cause of cancer, but that is certainly true whether or not your virus theory is true. It is also not a necessary cause of cancer. (That is, you can get lung cancer even if you never smoke; no doubt even if you are never even exposed to smoke.) Neither of those facts, however, in any way contradict the fact that smoking is a very real, important and significant cause of lung cancer.
#39
Old 01-06-2013, 07:35 PM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 3,712
The problem with a webcomic level of understanding of the truism that "correlation does not entail causation" is that it too often leads simpler minds to come to the conclusion that "correlation between two variables is never significant."

Thus people respond to demonstrations of correlations between, say, a policy they do not care for and an outcome that is generally acknowledged to be desirable with an incantation of "correlation does not prove causation." For instance, "since lowering the legal blood alcohol content level, state X has seen a decline in traffic fatalities," one argues. "Well, correlation does not prove causation," our webcomic aficionado retorts.

Now, it is certainly possible for two variables to show correlation while being completely causally unrelated (although this depends on one's own philosophic understanding as to what it means to say that "C causes E"). In general, using a "common sense" understanding of causality, correlation more often points either to a true cause/effect relationship between two phenomena or that both phenomena are causally related to a third, exogenous common cause (thus ice cream consumption and snakebites are both causally influenced by the advent of summer).

In short, if someone shows you a correlation between two variables, the maxim "correlation is not causation" is the starting point of a retort, but it is deeply insufficient, standing alone, to settle any matter.

Last edited by Kimmy_Gibbler; 01-06-2013 at 07:39 PM.
#40
Old 01-06-2013, 07:40 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: rhode island
Posts: 37,755
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blake View Post
Even if this is true (and i doubt it is) it remains a perfect example of a causative effect. Causative effects don't have to be direct to be causative.

In both science and law, what you just described is known as a proximate cause. It's a cause that is directly linked to, and directly causative of, the immediate cause. It's a chain of causation.

To give you a more obvious example: Being shot in the heart is a proximate cause of death. The actual cause of death is related to a loss of oxygenation of the brain. It's perfectly possible to shoot someone who is already on a heart-lung machine and have no effect on their health, so clearly being shot in the heart is not directly causative of death.

But in science, law and common speech, we refer to being shot in the heart as being a cause of death. And even if smoking tobacco causes cancer by increasing the risk of infection by a ubiquitous virus, it is still the cause of cancer because there is a direct causative chain. Smoking causes the infection and the infection causes the cancer.

A relationship doesn't have to be direct to be considered causative. This is a good thing because, as the gunshot example shows, most effects in the real world have an extremely extended chain of causes.

A relationship only becomes purely correlative when the two factors are not part of a causal chain. Using an example given earlier: buying ice cream does not in any way lead to being bitten by a snake. It doesn't cause human behaviour that leads to snakebites. It doesn't affect the behaviour of snakes. There is simply no chain of causation. It is purely correlative because both observations have a common cause: temperature. They don't cause one another, they both share a cause.
Actually I have no argument with that at all. Smoking is one step in a sequence of events that often leads to lung cancer. There is evidence that smoking causes a pre-condition that leads to lung cancer.
#41
Old 01-06-2013, 07:40 PM
Member
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Here
Posts: 11,639
Quote:
Originally Posted by F.Pu-du-he-pa-as View Post


The one I always use is "All heroin users drank milk when they were children. Milk drinking causes heroin use."

The ones above on sickle cell and autism are correct and difficult but worth knowing and analyzing.

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 01-06-2013 at 07:42 PM.
#42
Old 01-06-2013, 07:46 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 3,040
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimmy_Gibbler View Post
The problem with a webcomic level of understanding of the truism that "correlation does not entail causation" is that it too often leads simpler minds to come to the conclusion that "correlation between two variables is never significant."

Thus people respond to demonstrations of correlations between, say, a policy they do not care for and an outcome that is generally acknowledged to be desirable with an incantation of "correlation does not prove causation." For instance, "since lowering the legal blood alcohol content level, state X has seen a decline in traffic fatalities," one argues. "Well, correlation does not prove causation," our webcomic aficionado retorts.

Now, it is certainly possible for two variables to show correlation while being completely causally unrelated (although this depends on one's own philosophic understanding as to what it means to say that "C causes E"). In general, using a "common sense" understanding of causality, correlation more often points either to a true cause/effect relationship between two phenomena or that both phenomena are causally related to a third, exogenous common cause (thus ice cream consumption and snakebites are both causally influenced by the advent of summer).

In short, if someone shows you a correlation between two variables, the maxim "correlation is not causation" is the starting point of a retort, but it is deeply insufficient, standing alone, to settle any matter.
I disagree:

From the examples on this thread we are seeing a strong correlation between variables which correlate and there being no causation between these variables.

I take this correlation as evidence that correlation of variables causes them not be caused by each other.
#43
Old 01-06-2013, 07:46 PM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Shadow of the Sierras
Posts: 2,132
Certainly.

I recently completed an examination of all the records for all persons incarcerated for violet crimes.

My findings were that 100% of them started out life by drinking milk.





Damn cows!!!!!
#44
Old 01-06-2013, 07:48 PM
Elephant Whisperer
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Posts: 38,622
Diet drinks do not cause obesity despite the fact that many obese people drink them.
#45
Old 01-06-2013, 07:49 PM
Member
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Here
Posts: 11,639
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoid View Post
Do you have a cite for this? I'm not saying you're incorrect but this really is something I've never heard before and I'd be facinated to read more but my Google-fu is really weak.
Ditto. Not that one cite is a summer.

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 01-06-2013 at 07:50 PM.
#46
Old 01-06-2013, 07:53 PM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 3,712
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asympotically fat View Post
I disagree:

From the examples on this thread we are seeing a strong correlation between variables which correlate and there being no causation between these variables.
Of which in particular would you say this is true?
#47
Old 01-06-2013, 07:55 PM
Guest
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Vermont
Posts: 11,805
Quote:
Originally Posted by SandyHook View Post
Certainly.

I recently completed an examination of all the records for all persons incarcerated for violet crimes.

My findings were that 100% of them started out life by drinking milk.





Damn cows!!!!!
I've noticed a strong correlation between people posting in this thread and people not knowing what correlation means.
#48
Old 01-06-2013, 07:55 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: U.K.
Posts: 12,068
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimmy_Gibbler View Post
The problem with a webcomic level of understanding of the truism that "correlation does not entail causation" is that it too often leads simpler minds to come to the conclusion that "correlation between two variables is never significant."

Thus people respond to demonstrations of correlations between, say, a policy they do not care for and an outcome that is generally acknowledged to be desirable with an incantation of "correlation does not prove causation." For instance, "since lowering the legal blood alcohol content level, state X has seen a decline in traffic fatalities," one argues. "Well, correlation does not prove causation," our webcomic aficionado retorts.

Now, it is certainly possible for two variables to show correlation while being completely causally unrelated (although this depends on one's own philosophic understanding as to what it means to say that "C causes E"). In general, using a "common sense" understanding of causality, correlation more often points either to a true cause/effect relationship between two phenomena or that both phenomena are causally related to a third, exogenous common cause (thus ice cream consumption and snakebites are both causally influenced by the advent of summer).

In short, if someone shows you a correlation between two variables, the maxim "correlation is not causation" is the starting point of a retort, but it is deeply insufficient, standing alone, to settle any matter.
True, but the webcomic people have referred to in this thread in no wise makes that mistake. Look at the mouseover text.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
Actually I have no argument with that at all. Smoking is one step in a sequence of events that often leads to lung cancer. There is evidence that smoking causes a pre-condition that leads to lung cancer.
[Heavy sigh] And that is called being a cause of lung cancer. For just about any cause and effect pair in existence, you can find further events in the causal connection between them that may legitimately be viewed as intervening causes. Indeed, I am sure that, on your virus story (which,, incidentally, you have still not done anything to substantiate) there are events in the cell that intervene between the virus being there in a smoke damaged cell and the cell actually beginning to divide cancerously. They are all causes of the cancer too.
#49
Old 01-06-2013, 07:57 PM
Charter Member
Moderator
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 73,691
But obesity does cause consumption of diet drinks.
#50
Old 01-06-2013, 07:59 PM
Elephant Whisperer
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Posts: 38,622
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
But obesity does cause consumption of diet drinks.
Not exclusively. It could be the fear of obesity. But anyway, an alien landing on Earth might see obese people drinking diet drinks and conclude diet drinks cause obesity, and it's not true.
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:03 PM.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: drop safety dr dre fat cat acne pop antonym of phallic civ 3 tips hey nostrodamus alabama dildo da tovarisch salty sayings triangle man song coconut iv ugliest insect tourneau watches prices susan collins shaking women crushing bugs mayor shinn wet willey joker dies dragonscale bulletproof vest rigid class structure thin salsa counterfiet penny helicopter range miles a rat king hostess cherry pie pacifiers for teenagers harvey fierstein voice sexy black names porcelain glass creative mp3 how much is a obgyn visit without insurance still congested after neti pot what happens when light strikes the retina in the human eye? what is a squeeze box why is size on disk bigger than size how to open envelope my car failed emissions test total number of paths in a directed acyclic graph what time does mail leave the post office what is terminal velocity of a human family tree maker for writers how to stretch polyester thou shalt not suffer a witch to live meaning what the fuck is wrong with my computer package received by carrier amazon diesel fuel vs home heating oil canon printer not printing straight lines how much do touring musicians make what does toss the salad mean here comes the sun king can amphibians breathe underwater when is celsius and fahrenheit equal ran out of gas who to call bubble bath in a jacuzzi tub who invented chicken sandwich direct ignition coil vs ignition coil plug with 2 horizontal prongs how to pay postage due usps salutation to whom it may concern progesterone cream for breast growth chrono cross black dragon asleep throwing up but feel fine how long does it take for a body to smell can you overdose on midol male nausea in the morning trayvon martin lean snopes hermit crab wont eat gort! klaatu barada nikto!