Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Figuring out the Difference between Correlation, Causation & External Factors

This was instructive (Economist Blog). So it turns out that there is a negative relationship between beer drinking and scientists having their papers published/cited. So what does this mean?

  • According to the original authors, 'correlation': The more beer scientists drink, the less likely they are to have a paper published or cited.

  • Interpretation of the people at the Freakonomics blog, 'causation': "professors with poor publishing records subsequently drink more."

  • And from the Economist Blog, 'other': "snooty journal editors are biased against beer drinkers."
Of course what gets back to the general public these days as a result of media's interpretation is probably different altogether with the standard drivel probably something along the lines of "blame Bush / that's why we need Obama".

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