Correlation and causality
Correlation and causality. Stress that correlation does not prove causation because it only meets one of three criteria necessary
to establish causation (covariation). Going over Box7.2 (page 229) will make this point quite clear. One way to make the point is to present a relationships and have students come up with causal explanations for those relationships. To make this activity more fun, argue on behalf of incorrect causal explanations. Relationships you could use include
- The positive correlation between ice cream consumption and number of assaults.
- The correlation between divorce and death (this correlation and some interesting interpretations of correlational evidence are available from the following web site: http://christianparty.net/mortdiv.htm).
- Alzheimer's disease and neurofibrillary tangles
- barometer readings and bad weather; mud and rain
- wine consumption and health
- Smoking and low grades in college (Darrell Huff describes this example in his book "The Complete How to Figure It"
- fire engines at a fire and fire damage (William C. Burns suggested this example)
- milk consumption and cancer
- cars and life expectancy
- weight and vocabulary of elementary school students
- women's skirt length and stock prices (Mabry, 1971)
- college tuition costs and autism (original
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