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January 25, 2007

Study Reveals Researchers Don’t Know Difference Between Correlation and Causation

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 1:35 pm

LiveScience (via Yahoo.com) has an article stating that children in homes full of books and educational games are less likely to be spanked than their counterparts.

The article goes on to imply that if you give your kids books and games they won’t cause as much trouble as kids that don’t have such luxuries. While their may be some truth to that, it’s more likely that these two are simply correlated to another event: parents who care.

Research will also show that the more active, caring, and envolved parents have more well behaved children. Buying books and games is something a caring parent does.

I guess there’s 2 lessons to learn from this article:

1.) Just because 2 things are related doesn’t mean one causes the other.
2.) Merely buying your kid books and games won’t make him well behaved. You have to spend time with him too!


  1. Correlation and causation are hideously intertwined in our culture. The hippies tried to say that if we all just had sex and took lots of drugs there wouldn’t be any wars… more true was the fact that the drug/sex-crazed hippies were too stoned to cause a war, although they eventually did do a number on each other once the “your body isn’t real man” craze started to kick in… so, apparently murder is only “uncool man” when it happens to be political in nature.

    No, to be fair to the hippies, they weren’t all like that, but my point is that people see one incidental fix (more sex/drugs=less political wars) and think that that must be the solution in all cases, because that way they don’t have to actually THINK about why the causation occurs. The hippie philosophy of “make love not war” is not actually (and I hate to agree with the friggin’ hippies) a bad philosophy… so long as the definition of “love” isn’t “make sex a habit, take drugs, and call me in the morning”. Because really, then you are only saying “if people just do what they normally do in private in public, then the world would be a better place” and anyone who knows what happens in private, knows that isn’t the solution to anything except “what do we do to entertain the perverts?”

    Am I a bit of a prude and anti-hippie? Yes. But my point is that correlation and causation will forever be blurred until people realize that it IS actually important to THINK sometimes… merely saying “every time I see people using umbrellas, it is raining” doesn’t mean that umbrellas are at the root of this nasty thing called “rain.”

    Comment by shaggy — January 25, 2007 @ 10:40 pm

  2. there, involved

    Comment by renee — January 26, 2007 @ 1:03 am

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