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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 42
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27657 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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Archived thread
2012-10-02 05:07:06 PM
9 votes:

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?


You can probably find a correlation between two seemingly random things, however it does not imply that there necessarily has to be a causal link between them. I could probably correlate levels of beer consumptions with hours of football watched, for example. However, just because people who watch more football might also drink more beer means that watching football causes you to drink beer or that drinking beer causes to you watch football. The societal trend of drinking beer while watching football comes from an external social stimulus, not as an inherent property of beer or football.
2012-10-02 05:44:16 PM
6 votes:
Oblig:
images.businessweek.com 
/hot
2012-10-02 05:37:18 PM
5 votes:
I had always heard it as "Correlation does not equal causation."

Either way:
benfry.com
2012-10-02 05:22:22 PM
5 votes:
Correlation does imply causation. Correlation does not confirm causation.
2012-10-02 04:54:21 PM
5 votes:
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?
2012-10-02 04:41:22 PM
5 votes:
I prefer to say "post hoc ergo propter hoc".
2012-10-02 04:48:23 PM
4 votes:
imgs.xkcd.com
2012-10-02 05:38:41 PM
3 votes:

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?


The whole article could have been the last paragraph instead of all the babble in between:

When we make a claim about causation, it's not so we can hide out from the world but so we can intervene in it. A false positive means approving drugs that have no effect, or imposing regulations that make no difference, or wasting money in schemes to limit unemployment. As science grows more powerful and government more technocratic, the stakes of correlation-of counterfeit relationships and bogus findings-grow ever larger. The false positive is now more onerous than it's ever been. And all we have to fight it is a catchphrase.
2012-10-02 06:04:39 PM
2 votes:
I didn't read TFA, but being a logician I thought it might help to mention what "implies" means in (classical mathematical) logic. "A implies B" does not mean merely that the truth of A suggests that B might also be true. It means that it is impossible for A to be true without B also being true. A single example of A and B where A is true but B is false refutes the implication (and of course it is easy to come up with an example where A and B are correlated but A does not cause B.)
2012-10-02 05:59:19 PM
2 votes:
Doesn't prove it, but it suggests it, and that's where science begins.
2012-10-02 05:54:12 PM
2 votes:
Correlation does not equal causation. Can it imply causation? Yes, and it can definitely heavily imply causation if you have enough evidence that likewise points to a connection.

However, here on The Internet, people often use a single data point or study as ULTIMATE PROOF, which leads people to say "Correlation does not equal causation."

So really, it's used as a reminder that one study that shows correlation doesn't mean anything. I think. Or at least, that's what I think when I see people use it.

/Lisa, I'd like to buy your rock.
2012-10-02 05:41:26 PM
2 votes:
Sad people use IM and file-share. They play video games. They surf the Web in their own, sad way.

They also post comments on news-aggregator sites.
2012-10-02 05:36:59 PM
2 votes:

MindStalker: kxs401: Donnchadha: 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?

You can probably find a correlation between two seemingly random things, however it does not imply that there necessarily has to be a causal link between them. I could probably correlate levels of beer consumptions with hours of football watched, for example. However, just because people who watch more football might also drink more beer means that watching football causes you to drink beer or that drinking beer causes to you watch football. The societal trend of drinking beer while watching football comes from an external social stimulus, not as an inherent property of beer or football.

Yeah, thanks, got that. The example I use with my LSAT students is ice cream sales and boat accidents. But when scientists are looking for causation, wouldn't they start with correlations?

Yes, but then they try test that remove a variable. Take away someone's email, does it make them happier, for example. Correlations tell you what you need to experiment on, it doesn't tell you the final outcome.


Right. Hence "imply," not "prove."
2012-10-02 05:06:13 PM
2 votes:
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.
2012-10-03 12:04:19 AM
1 votes:

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.
2012-10-02 10:41:47 PM
1 votes:

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 07:20:46 PM
1 votes:
correlation implies relation, but certainly not causation.

If a coke fiend once tried marijuana in his youth, that doesn't mean that marijuana was the 'gateway' drug... It might simply mean that someone who likes hardcore drugs has no aversion to soft core drugs, is all.
2012-10-02 06:51:29 PM
1 votes:

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.
2012-10-02 06:31:19 PM
1 votes:
Now that was some truly stupid shiat.
I guess that's to be expected when you hire a homeless guy holding a sign by the highway to write for your magazine.

www.slate.com
2012-10-02 06:24:03 PM
1 votes:
Correlation doesn't imply causation. No, no, correlation takes causation out to a nice dinner, buys it a little wine, makes small talk, then quietly drives it home, shakes its hand and never calls again. That's just how it is, and causation will never know what it did wrong or what is wrong with it, but correlation and causation will never be quite the same after that. Sure, they'll pass each other on the street, stand about awkwardly while they catch up on things, all the wile looking for the quickest way out of the conversation. And, still, when they walk away, they wonder for a few seconds about how it all just didn't work out, and what might have been different if it had somehow. Then, one day, when they're both older and much more mature, correlation will finally tell causation the truth, the whole story, but it won't matter because causation already moved on in such alarming and speechless ways that it just doesn't matter anymore, man. It just doesn't matter, and it's probably all for the best. But thanks. Thanks anyway.

And that, son, is the story correlation and causation. Don't ever let it happen to you. If you find our causation, you go after it. You go after it with everything you have, and you make sure it knows how you feel about it and just how far you're willing to go after it. Because, if you don't, someday years from now, you might just find out that you were the cause all along, and not the correlation. And that's the worst thing that can happen in life or in love right there.
2012-10-02 06:06:35 PM
1 votes:
So, the gist of the article appears to be "the phrase is true, but people say it a lot, so it annoys me".

Slate. Where thoughtless contrarianism is mistaken for journalism.
2012-10-02 06:04:25 PM
1 votes:

falcon176: pseudo intellectuals="I will repeat verbatim what someone far smarter than me said and I have nothing else to back it up if you try to question it so I'd better write QED on the end which means I win no matter what in latin or some shiat I don't know and if you reply to me I'll just reply with some general insults that I run through a thesaurus 5 times"


major bingo there. people parroting this and that. life is full of them. those that really have something going on don't have time to fark around and piss away time on teh internet.
2012-10-02 06:04:02 PM
1 votes:
Correlation does not always equal causation, but, without correlation, you can eliminate causation.
2012-10-02 06:03:35 PM
1 votes:

kxs401: RexTalionis: kxs401: Right. Hence "imply," not "prove."

Like I said, maybe "imply" has a different meaning in statistics as opposed to everyday speech. Sort of like how how "consideration" means something different depending on who you're talking with.

You may well be right, but morons on the internet aren't using it that way.



Don't worry too much about the reasoning of a moron on the internet, you don't want to suddenly realize you're letting them write your rules by conforming to a moron's definition of words.
2012-10-02 06:00:23 PM
1 votes:

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.


Hey Doc, don't look now, but your post was pretty pedantic.
2012-10-02 05:58:50 PM
1 votes:

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?


You also have the possibility of C causing A and B together.

And ways to make a correlation stronger are to eliminate possible C's (like looking at equivalent economic levels for anything to do with race like inner city vs. appalachia, not inner city vs. gated communities) and to also make sure you're framing things both ways (like finding the marijuana users and seeing how many use hard drugs in addition to asking the hard drug users if they've used marijuana. the "gateway drug" myth only uses stats from the latter)
2012-10-02 05:58:46 PM
1 votes:
pseudo intellectuals="I will repeat verbatim what someone far smarter than me said and I have nothing else to back it up if you try to question it so I'd better write QED on the end which means I win no matter what in latin or some shiat I don't know and if you reply to me I'll just reply with some general insults that I run through a thesaurus 5 times"
2012-10-02 05:56:29 PM
1 votes:
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.
2012-10-02 05:51:00 PM
1 votes:

RexTalionis: kxs401: Right. Hence "imply," not "prove."

Like I said, maybe "imply" has a different meaning in statistics as opposed to everyday speech. Sort of like how how "consideration" means something different depending on who you're talking with.


You may well be right, but morons on the internet aren't using it that way.
2012-10-02 05:50:20 PM
1 votes:
FTA: "We identified several features of Internet usage that correlated with depression," they said.

Well, duh. When someone makes no claim of causation, you'd have to be trolling to say "correlation does not imply causation."
2012-10-02 05:43:30 PM
1 votes:
I think the author of this article is butt hurt from losing too many internet arguments.
2012-10-02 05:43:30 PM
1 votes:
Formal "imply" means that, if A implies B, then the truth or existence of A guarantees the same for B. Thus, if A, then always B.
2012-10-02 05:43:04 PM
1 votes:
The author is a whiny douche. I correlate his douchiness with his whininess. But they are not causal from one another. Instead, they are both direct results of him being a dicksmack.
2012-10-02 05:42:21 PM
1 votes:

ultraholland: Sad people use IM and file-share. They play video games. They surf the Web in their own, sad way.

They also post comments on news-aggregator sites.


Zing!
2012-10-02 05:41:02 PM
1 votes:
it's hubris.

why would they think and possibly learn something when they can quickly dismiss and belittle your time and effort studying something so stupid.
2012-10-02 05:40:54 PM
1 votes:

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?


Correlation may also exist due to a common cause of the compared data sets, or due to coincidence in the analyzed sample.
2012-10-02 05:38:09 PM
1 votes:

Donnchadha: 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?

You can probably find a correlation between two seemingly random things, however it does not imply that there necessarily has to be a causal link between them. I could probably correlate levels of beer consumptions with hours of football watched, for example. However, just because people who watch more football might also drink more beer means that watching football causes you to drink beer or that drinking beer causes to you watch football. The societal trend of drinking beer while watching football comes from an external social stimulus, not as an inherent property of beer or football.


I'd argue that beer is inherently necessary to be able to enjoy a game that's 11 minutes of actual action packed into a 60 minute format, nested within a 3.5 hour block of time on TV, most of which is commercials.

\Now back to your regularly scheduled statistics and logic slapfest.
2012-10-02 05:28:36 PM
1 votes:

Donnchadha: 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?

You can probably find a correlation between two seemingly random things, however it does not imply that there necessarily has to be a causal link between them. I could probably correlate levels of beer consumptions with hours of football watched, for example. However, just because people who watch more football might also drink more beer means that watching football causes you to drink beer or that drinking beer causes to you watch football. The societal trend of drinking beer while watching football comes from an external social stimulus, not as an inherent property of beer or football.


Yeah, thanks, got that. The example I use with my LSAT students is ice cream sales and boat accidents. But when scientists are looking for causation, wouldn't they start with correlations?
2012-10-02 05:27:11 PM
1 votes:

TwoHead: I'll just leave this here


Interesting site.

In general, 51 percent of people have smoked marijuana. But among those who have never attended a wedding of a couple whom they didn't believe would last, only 32 percent have smoked marijuana.

"Among those unwilling to admit socially impolite behavior to a pollster, only 32 percent admitted to have smoked marijuana."
2012-10-02 05:18:43 PM
1 votes:
Does email make a man depressed? Does sadness make a man send email? Or is something else again to blame for both? A correlation can't tell one from the other; in that sense it's inadequate.

So you're saying correlation does not imply causation?
2012-10-02 04:59:42 PM
1 votes:

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?


I think the "imply" has a different meaning in statistics. I know it certainly does in formal logic.
2012-10-02 04:44:47 PM
1 votes:
Argumentum ad ignorantiam
 
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