Correlation vs. Causation

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by Lex, May 7, 2005.

  1. Lex

    Lex
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    After seeing the UMP-Teenth thread of the "realtionship of XXX to Penis size"

    I just felt the need to say what my Statistics Professor said in your first research class.

    Correlation does NOT mean causation. Two things can be highly correlated (meaning they occur together in high frequency) and that may not mean that one causes the other.

    Brown skin and brown eyes.
    Red hair and freckles.

    Proving a causal relationship between two things that have a high level of correaltion is MUCH more difficult.

    Years of sun exposure and skin cancer.
    Year of smoking and lung cancer.

    As we examine all these numerous "stuides" please take a minute to remember this. Most of what is reported is BUNK.
     
  2. ceg1526

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    The story my stats prof used was: You go to the same Italian restaurant for years, always sit at the same table at the same time of day and always order the same thing. One night, you go in, and the table clothes are red rather than checked. You order the same meal, but go home and are violently sick. Therefore, red table clothes cause vomiting.

    Take care

    Ceg
     
  3. Dr Rock

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    while it is a good point, you make, I wanna be pedantic and point out hair color vs eye color is perhaps a bad example - while those two things don't have any influence ON each other, they are both caused BY the same combinations of alleles - and certain combinations occur frequently because some alleles are dominant and some are recessive (that's why you only find yellow, orange or violet eyes on people whose ancestors came from the same specific ethnic group, for example, whereas brown eyes are common to nearly all races). penis size and its biological factors are rather more complex than pigmentations.
     
  4. Lex

    Lex
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    Right. And I was talking about casuation--one thing having influence ON another thing.
    A combination of genes has a causal relationship to eye color and hair color. Eye color does NOT cause hair color.
     
  5. madame_zora

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    Yeah, I agree, and that's such an important distinction. My philosophy professor used the example of a belltower near a train station, the bell sounding off on the hour doesn't cause the train to leave at a certain time, even if those things happen with a relatively high frequency. That's the thing we must keep in mind when there are a lot of cases where things seem to follow a pattern- it doesn't mean one thing causes the other, or that they will occur every time that way (ie, the train could be late leaving the station for any number of reasons). I find it interesting to observe patterns, they are much easier to recognise than causal relationships.
     
  6. Imported

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    denisecutiezzzz: yeah, i agree. i've not seen any reliable way to tell if a guy is hung based on any other physical criteria.
     
  7. jonb

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    It's also called magical thinking. I push the elevator button. It causes the elevator to come. But if I push it again, that won't make the elevator come any faster.
     
  8. madame_zora

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    although there are certain buttons that if you push them more it will make something come faster. :D
     
  9. Dr Rock

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    clearly your professor had never tried catching a train in the UK.
     
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