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(Slate)   Next time some pseudo-intellectual internet blowhard tries to take away your carefully thought-out arguments with that "correlation does not imply causation" yarn, just send them here because YOU WIN   (slate.com) divider line 226
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27655 clicks; posted to Main » on 02 Oct 2012 at 5:31 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-10-02 07:56:07 PM

Amos Quito: SineSwiper: Lemme see:

1. Fish oil + heart disease = CORRELATION FAIL
2. Lycopene + cancer = CORRELATION FAIL
3. Echinacea + immune system = CORRELATION FAIL

But, hey, keep farking that chicken about how "correlation implies causation". (Meanwhile, the "supplement" industry would like to rake in millions of dollars from you.)


Great.

Can you point to at least ONE "supplement" that science actually has shown to provide some benefit?

Because if not, I have another correlation for you to examine.


Well, valerian root is a pretty decent sedative. How's that?
 
2012-10-02 07:57:21 PM

ecl: moran: ecl: lostcat: I was watching a commercial for a whole-grain cereal a few weeks ago, and the announcer said something along the lines of, "people of a healthy body weight tend to chose whole grain foods."

The implication of course being that eating the whole grain cereal would change your fat, lumpy ass into a healthy body.

I guess it's OK that there are people in this country who accept that correlation unquestioningly. I would prefer it if everyone were smart enough to see the flaw in the logic, but then, who would buy whole-grain cereal with added sugar?

Teachers apparently.

LOL r u sayin teachers r fat!

That's the conclusion I'd expect someone named moran to jump to.


Whoosh!
 
2012-10-02 07:59:09 PM

moran: Amos Quito: SineSwiper: Lemme see:

1. Fish oil + heart disease = CORRELATION FAIL
2. Lycopene + cancer = CORRELATION FAIL
3. Echinacea + immune system = CORRELATION FAIL

But, hey, keep farking that chicken about how "correlation implies causation". (Meanwhile, the "supplement" industry would like to rake in millions of dollars from you.)


Great.

Can you point to at least ONE "supplement" that science actually has shown to provide some benefit?

Because if not, I have another correlation for you to examine.

Well, valerian root is a pretty decent sedative. How's that?


And arsenic seems pretty effective if you consider death a benefit.
 
2012-10-02 08:03:09 PM

uber humper: moran: Amos Quito: SineSwiper: Lemme see:

1. Fish oil + heart disease = CORRELATION FAIL
2. Lycopene + cancer = CORRELATION FAIL
3. Echinacea + immune system = CORRELATION FAIL

But, hey, keep farking that chicken about how "correlation implies causation". (Meanwhile, the "supplement" industry would like to rake in millions of dollars from you.)


Great.

Can you point to at least ONE "supplement" that science actually has shown to provide some benefit?

Because if not, I have another correlation for you to examine.

Well, valerian root is a pretty decent sedative. How's that?

And arsenic seems pretty effective if you consider death a benefit.


I don't, but I'm sure your comment will be helpful to people who do :)
 
2012-10-02 08:07:20 PM
Subby's Mom.

/that's a debate ender if I ever saw one.
 
2012-10-02 08:07:23 PM
My favorite: "Taller children are better at math"

(they also tend to be older)
 
2012-10-02 08:09:49 PM
"Correlation doesn't imply causation, but it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing 'look over there'"

I'm amazed I'm the first one in here with this.
 
2012-10-02 08:11:00 PM

DaCaptain19: kxs401: I guess I'm just ignorant, because I certainly realize that correlation doesn't PROVE causation, but why doesn't it imply it? If A and B are correlated, possible explanations are that A causes B or B causes A. When we notice that smoking is correlated with lung cancer, why wouldn't we go looking to find causality?

No, you're not, unless my PhD and 18 years as a professional statistical analyst mean nothing. Correlation absolutely implies causation. If there's no correlation between X and Y it says X has no way of predicting Y thus could NEVER cause Y. Any correlation (unless it's obviously spurious) between X and Y could mean changes in X DO cause changes in Y. It's just not certain based on a correlation, alone.

Here's a great example of correlation NOT showing causality: Increases in ice-cream sales are strongly, positively correlated with increases in drowning deaths. However, a THIRD variable - seasonality - is A cause of both. You can bet that seasonality correlates with BOTH ice-cream sales and drowning deaths.

Now...correlation doesn't NECESSARILY MEAN causation. For models that are causal, we use a modeling technique called Structural Equation Modeling - based on covariance (which is just unstandardized correlation) - and this IS a causal model, usually based on some theoretical notion of what is causing what.



I guess the fact that you've wasted 18+ years of your life on nothing of any measurable value implies that you're a moron.
 
2012-10-02 08:12:52 PM

SacriliciousBeerSwiller: Correlation actually can imply causation...it's up to the person's perspective. It does not EQUAL causation.


Correlation cannot imply causation under the logical meaning of "imply".

Logic uses the original meaning of "imply". "A implies B" means "A leads, as a necessary logical consequence, to B", or in other words, "If A, then B".

In more recent years "imply" has taken on a secondary meaning of "suggest", but that is a newer usage and it's not the one being used in the logical sense.
 
2012-10-02 08:14:38 PM
If I claim to be a wise man it doesn't necessarily imply that that I don't know.
 
2012-10-02 08:17:47 PM
The big problem with logical debates is that nobody cares.

In real life, it's all about results. Carefully framed logical arguments can easily arrive at conclusions that simply don't mirror reality thanks to faulty assumptions at the start. shiat in = shiat out. You see that kind of crap happening all the time.

Meanwhile, totally insane arguments like "The gods cut off the giant's penis and tossed into the ocean and his wife's ass on the moon, and when he can see the moon, his dick gets hard and the ocean rises and that's why we have tides." can actually mirror reality quite well despite being totally wrong from start to finish.

Moral of the story, never show your work and judge every conclusion on its own merit, regardless of how the conclusion was arrived at.
 
2012-10-02 08:20:37 PM

This About That: Correlation does imply causation. Correlation does not confirm causation.


Exactly
 
2012-10-02 08:22:42 PM
I just found out I'm depressed. Thanks a lot, internet.
 
2012-10-02 08:23:14 PM
And, he's a bigot.
 
2012-10-02 08:24:04 PM

doglover: Meanwhile, totally insane arguments like "The gods cut off the giant's penis and tossed into the ocean


Nimrod!
 
2012-10-02 08:25:02 PM

SineSwiper: Lemme see:

1. Fish oil + heart disease = CORRELATION FAIL
2. Lycopene + cancer = CORRELATION FAIL
3. Echinacea + immune system = CORRELATION FAIL



You bring up a very good point about how important it is to pay attention to correlations. (Though I suspect you didn't mean to.)

Not only is finding a correlation important, but as you point out, even failing to find a correlation is important. We now know (assuming your fail claims are true) that we no longer need to recommend lycopene intake to reduce the risk of cancer. Ruling out the things that don't work is a very useful piece of information.

As you have correctly pointed out, correlations are SO important that even failing to find one is a significant discovery.
 
2012-10-02 08:26:35 PM

Amos Quito: doglover: Meanwhile, totally insane arguments like "The gods cut off the giant's penis and tossed into the ocean

Nimrod!


More like Numbrod now. shiat! It's cold down there.
 
2012-10-02 08:33:46 PM

doglover: Amos Quito: doglover: Meanwhile, totally insane arguments like "The gods cut off the giant's penis and tossed into the ocean

Nimrod!

More like Numbrod now. shiat! It's cold down there.


Deep, too

/amitdoinitrite?
 
2012-10-02 08:42:08 PM

SineSwiper: Lemme see:

1. Fish oil + heart disease = CORRELATION FAIL
2. Lycopene + cancer = CORRELATION FAIL
3. Echinacea + immune system = CORRELATION FAIL

But, hey, keep farking that chicken about how "correlation implies causation". (Meanwhile, the "supplement" industry would like to rake in millions of dollars from you.)



4. FDA Approved SSRI antidepressants are actually antidepressant = CORRELATION FAIL

But, hey, keep farking that chicken about how "correlation implies causation". (Meanwhile, the "PHARMACEUTICAL" industry would like to rake in BILLIONS of dollars from you)


/FDA muscle + Big Pharma Cash = double-blind "science"
 
2012-10-02 08:43:56 PM

Coolfusis: Oh look, it's another one of the "that thing doesn't exactly mean that!" articles. I'll step aside and let the pedants masturbate furiously over this one.


I was gonna snark you for this, but you hit the nail on the head.

/do you know a way to get them to figure out what the definition of is is?
 
2012-10-02 08:59:28 PM
Do you suppose 'all chaps are assless' upset the author, too?
 
2012-10-02 09:03:44 PM

Amos Quito: SineSwiper: Lemme see:

1. Fish oil + heart disease = CORRELATION FAIL
2. Lycopene + cancer = CORRELATION FAIL
3. Echinacea + immune system = CORRELATION FAIL

But, hey, keep farking that chicken about how "correlation implies causation". (Meanwhile, the "supplement" industry would like to rake in millions of dollars from you.)


Great.

Can you point to at least ONE "supplement" that science actually has shown to provide some benefit?

Because if not, I have another correlation for you to examine.


Would this be between "Big Pharma" and "Zionism"?
 
2012-10-02 09:04:24 PM

ecl: Came to crucify this article.

Animatronik: I love TFA. The author says the phrase is overused and flawed, yet reaffirms that it is very much true. Theres not much there, until you realize that people who promote specious arguments using weak correlations have a lot invested in not being required to explain causation very well.

Best example is racism. People point to how some races do better than others financially as proof of inherited differences in intelligence. Clearly this a weak argument but it fits right in with what the author is suggesting. Because Progressives need for ppl to be impressed by arguments based on correlations, so they use similar logic.

Did you just have a seizure?


Nope.
The movement to ascribe significance to correlations without supporting causative information dates back to progressives from 100 years ago, including the ones who embraced eugenics, and is still important to 21st century progressives, who cherry-pick correlations and declare them to be facts with no supporting logic to back them up.
 
2012-10-02 09:06:31 PM

Fano: Amos Quito: SineSwiper: Lemme see:

1. Fish oil + heart disease = CORRELATION FAIL
2. Lycopene + cancer = CORRELATION FAIL
3. Echinacea + immune system = CORRELATION FAIL

But, hey, keep farking that chicken about how "correlation implies causation". (Meanwhile, the "supplement" industry would like to rake in millions of dollars from you.)


Great.

Can you point to at least ONE "supplement" that science actually has shown to provide some benefit?

Because if not, I have another correlation for you to examine.

Would this be between "Big Pharma" and "Zionism"?


Jews did 9/11 thalidomide?
 
2012-10-02 09:10:36 PM
I suggest there be a clarification printed at the top of any science news report, for the anti-vaxxer crowd. In 64 point bold print.

"The following article does not claim causation. Repeat, for those about to whine about something we never said - The following article does NOT claim causation. And just to make sure we really are getting through, The following article does NOT claim we found direct causation. Now for those with an above room temperature IQ: In the news today x was found to be correlated to y....."
 
2012-10-02 09:12:40 PM

Animatronik: ecl: Came to crucify this article.

Animatronik: I love TFA. The author says the phrase is overused and flawed, yet reaffirms that it is very much true. Theres not much there, until you realize that people who promote specious arguments using weak correlations have a lot invested in not being required to explain causation very well.

Best example is racism. People point to how some races do better than others financially as proof of inherited differences in intelligence. Clearly this a weak argument but it fits right in with what the author is suggesting. Because Progressives need for ppl to be impressed by arguments based on correlations, so they use similar logic.

Did you just have a seizure?

Nope.
The movement to ascribe significance to correlations without supporting causative information dates back to progressives from 100 years ago, including the ones who embraced eugenics, and is still important to 21st century progressives, who cherry-pick correlations and declare them to be facts with no supporting logic to back them up.


You know who else ascribed significance to correlations without supporting causative information?

(a) progressives
(b) you
(c) Hitler
(d) all of the above and also me for writing this post
 
2012-10-02 09:17:55 PM
"Why do people love to say that correlation does not imply causation?"

That's as far as I got, because no one actually says that. Well, no one who has half a brain, anyway. The correct phrase is "correlation does not MEAN causation", and it is an integral philosophy in every discipline of science.
 
2012-10-02 09:22:13 PM

Animatronik: ecl: Came to crucify this article.

Animatronik: I love TFA. The author says the phrase is overused and flawed, yet reaffirms that it is very much true. Theres not much there, until you realize that people who promote specious arguments using weak correlations have a lot invested in not being required to explain causation very well.

Best example is racism. People point to how some races do better than others financially as proof of inherited differences in intelligence. Clearly this a weak argument but it fits right in with what the author is suggesting. Because Progressives need for ppl to be impressed by arguments based on correlations, so they use similar logic.

Did you just have a seizure?

Nope.
The movement to ascribe significance to correlations without supporting causative information dates back to progressives from 100 years ago, including the ones who embraced eugenics, and is still important to 21st century progressives, who cherry-pick correlations and declare them to be facts with no supporting logic to back them up.


***

Yeah, because conservatives NEVER try to do the exact same farking thing...

Oh wait, YES THEY DO! So here's a protip for ya Animatronik; instead of coming across as a politically partisan jackass, how about you try just a tiny dose of objectivity and embrace the idea that humans in farking general who feel strongly about any particular topic tend to "cherry-pick correlations and declare them to be facts with no supporting logic to back them up."
 
2012-10-02 09:24:22 PM

Fano: Amos Quito: SineSwiper: Lemme see:

1. Fish oil + heart disease = CORRELATION FAIL
2. Lycopene + cancer = CORRELATION FAIL
3. Echinacea + immune system = CORRELATION FAIL

But, hey, keep farking that chicken about how "correlation implies causation". (Meanwhile, the "supplement" industry would like to rake in millions of dollars from you.)


Great.

Can you point to at least ONE "supplement" that science actually has shown to provide some benefit?

Because if not, I have another correlation for you to examine.

Would this be between "Big Pharma" and "Zionism"?



Link

= causation.

;-)
 
2012-10-02 09:26:35 PM
I've pretty much never seen anyone who uses this phrase or applies logical fallacy names to arguments to have an intelligent, original thought. I can very much picture them in their freshman writing or statistics class mentally rubbing their hands together in glee at all the internet arguments they will now vanquish.
 
2012-10-02 09:26:52 PM

2words1finger: "Why do people love to say that correlation does not imply causation?"

That's as far as I got, because no one actually says that. Well, no one who has half a brain, anyway. The correct phrase is "correlation does not MEAN causation", and it is an integral philosophy in every discipline of science.


So no one with at least half a brain is allowed to use the word "imply" to mean "mean" as in definition (2) from this dictionary?
 
2012-10-02 09:29:02 PM

Animatronik: and is still important to 21st century progressives, who cherry-pick correlations and declare them to be facts with no supporting logic to back them up


I suppose the irony of that flew right over your head.

You know what pisses me off about arguing online? People who cry ad hominem. I see this frequently used as an "I win" clause - you insult me, that means you have no argument and I'm right.

What is usually happening in this situation is that the person is a certified moron, so instead of wasting their breath trying to convince the person of something, they call them a cocksucker instead.

www.netbooknews.com
And this. If you post this, you're a ball sniffer. Not all debate is civil.
 
2012-10-02 09:30:55 PM

LiberalEastCoastElitist: I've pretty much never seen anyone who uses this phrase or applies logical fallacy names to arguments to have an intelligent, original thought. I can very much picture them in their freshman writing or statistics class mentally rubbing their hands together in glee at all the internet arguments they will now vanquish.


Your argument is ad hominem :P
 
2012-10-02 09:42:44 PM

LiberalEastCoastElitist: I've pretty much never seen anyone who uses this phrase or applies logical fallacy names to arguments to have an intelligent, original thought. I can very much picture them in their freshman writing or statistics class mentally rubbing their hands together in glee at all the internet arguments they will now vanquish.


It's up there with "don't blame the victim."

I picture the guy, with the philosophy degree, repeating this mantra to remove his fault from his bad decisions. "My choices cause me to be unemployed."
 
2012-10-02 09:43:56 PM

uber humper: "My choices didn't cause me to be unemployed."


FTFM
 
2012-10-02 09:54:47 PM
There was an article on this in the latest issue of "Internet Scientist"
 
2012-10-02 10:08:54 PM
Correlation should be the driving point to investigate causation. I agree with the article that the phrase is way overused on the internet. We get it, correlation /= causation. Read the farking scientific symposium journal if you want all the evidence. Don't skim the farking TIME article written by a journalism major and blurt out "CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION! SEE HOW SMART I AM I LEARNED THAT IN THE STAT CLASS I DROPPED OUT OF AT COMMUNITY COLLEGE".
 
2012-10-02 10:41:47 PM

meanmutton: uber humper: Correlation doesn't equal causation.

Causation does equal causation. Don't forget that.

Everything has a cause. Nothing happens just 'cuz

1) Combinations of things frequently happen "just 'cuz"
2) There is no cosmic plan; not everything happens for a reason.


fusionanomaly.net

Miller: A lot o' people don't realize what's really going on. They view life as a bunch o' unconnected incidents 'n things. They don't realize that there's this, like, lattice o' coincidence that lays on top o' everything. Give you an example; show you what I mean: suppose you're thinkin' about a plate o' shrimp. Suddenly someone'll say, like, plate, or shrimp, or plate o' shrimp out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin' for one, either. It's all part of a cosmic unconciousness.
Otto: You eat a lot of acid, Miller, back in the hippie days?

/Alex Cox is always relevant
 
2012-10-02 10:49:13 PM

cards fan by association: Correlation should be the driving point to investigate causation. I agree with the article that the phrase is way overused on the internet. We get it, correlation /= causation. Read the farking scientific symposium journal if you want all the evidence. Don't skim the farking TIME article written by a journalism major and blurt out "CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION! SEE HOW SMART I AM I LEARNED THAT IN THE STAT CLASS I DROPPED OUT OF AT COMMUNITY COLLEGE".


And this is the real cause of the rise of the use of this phrase... It wasn't the internet itself that caused it, it was the fact that EVERYONE knows it that causes it. The internet just provides a forum for it to be used that much more.

Also the main reason it is used is because of this process:

Person 1 performs a study and releases their findings.
Person 2 takes the simplest possible view of those findings and runs with it to push their personal agenda.
Person 3 repudiates that person with "Correlation is not Causation".

Without the second person there is no need for the third and the phrase. But there is ALWAYS the second person, half the time it is the same as person 1, and most of the rest of the time it is a reporter. But no matter what, there is always someone implying causation to push an agenda, and there is therefore always someone pointing out the correlation issue. It is validated by the actions of the person 2, not usually (though occasionally) by the study itself.
 
2012-10-02 11:01:01 PM
I'm a professional researcher, and getting a kick, etc. etc.

Seriously, though - correlation is often the last refuge of an academic research project where some hypothesized relationship didn't work out in an experiment and the graduate student or Ph.D. scans the data set looking for something, anything, to justify the years of research so that some sort of paper can be published. It's lazy and it's improper, but ask anyone in academia - it happens a lot.

Thus the phrase "correlation does not imply causation" has become something of a mantra to skeptics because finding the relationship between two variables can be (and often is) spurious without some hypothetical pre-established relationship to fall back on.

The problem with this Slate piece AND with those who condescendingly say, "correlation does not imply causation" is that neither is considering that when a correlation is found, the onus is upon the researcher to test the relationship through further research. Often, correlations are established in descriptive research, and the next step is to conduct causal research or exploratory research to see if there's any basis for the relationship.

For example, there's a (possibly apocryphal) story that a grocery store chain supposedly scanned its receipt data and found a correlation between beer sales and diaper sales. Cashiers had observed that new fathers typically purchased these items together, and thus the correlation was explained by the observational data. Did the birth of a child cause new fathers to buy more beer? That much couldn't be said. But those new fathers certainly took advantage of the grocery store run to ensure they didn't run out.
 
2012-10-02 11:13:57 PM

RexTalionis: I prefer to say "post hoc ergo propter hoc".


Nunc., ibid.
 
2012-10-02 11:37:46 PM

uber humper: blahpers: uber humper: Everything has a cause. Nothing happens just 'cuz

Not really.

Everything has a reason?

What are you saying?


Not everything necessarily has a cause.
 
2012-10-02 11:51:20 PM

moran: 2words1finger: "Why do people love to say that correlation does not imply causation?"

That's as far as I got, because no one actually says that. Well, no one who has half a brain, anyway. The correct phrase is "correlation does not MEAN causation", and it is an integral philosophy in every discipline of science.

So no one with at least half a brain is allowed to use the word "imply" to mean "mean" as in definition (2) from this dictionary?


From the very definition you cited; "to indicate or suggest..." which is what an implication is, a SUGGESTION. So no, it does not mean the same thing.

/get a brain moran ;P
 
2012-10-02 11:58:43 PM
I probably see this phrase used on Fark an average of five times a day, and I've almost never seen it used correctly.
 
2012-10-03 12:03:30 AM
Oh FFS, everyone with half a brain has the list of logical fallacies in their clipboard and just pastes "moving the goal posts" until they hit "back-pedaling" and slip in some "tautology" dripping from your "strawman". And when they start sounding really cool they throw in some "appeal to authority" with a side order of "anecdotal evidence" until we get to their "ad hominem" money shot. That's not cliched. That's how real brainiac powerhouses roll! Huzza!
 
2012-10-03 12:04:19 AM

trappedspirit: Oh FFS, everyone with half a brain has the list of logical fallacies in their clipboard and just pastes "moving the goal posts" until they hit "back-pedaling" and slip in some "tautology" dripping from your "strawman". And when they start sounding really cool they throw in some "appeal to authority" with a side order of "anecdotal evidence" until we get to their "ad hominem" money shot. That's not cliched. That's how real brainiac powerhouses roll! Huzza!


Wow, you really went down the slippery slope there.
 
2012-10-03 12:05:31 AM
*I've seen a lot of times when the slippery slope is called a fallacy when in fact it is an entirely foreseeable and likely outcome of the action in question.
 
2012-10-03 12:07:13 AM
NIce ad-homonym, submitter, why not follow up with a slip-n-slide follicle?
 
2012-10-03 02:37:57 AM
Still no cure for

"Well I think God is a flying spaghetti monster! HORRAY ATHEISM!"
 
2012-10-03 02:40:15 AM

spamdog: You know what pisses me off about arguing online? People who cry ad hominem. I see this frequently used as an "I win" clause - you insult me, that means you have no argument and I'm right.

What is usually happening in this situation is that the person is a certified moron, so instead of wasting their breath trying to convince the person of something, they call them a cocksucker instead.


No sense in playing chess with someone who only knows how to play 52 pickup.

/op is a queermo
 
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