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Math Help - Correlation does not imply causality question

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Correlation does not imply causality question

    Hello,

    Could someone please explain to me why a significant linear correlation does not imply causality?

    I understand that there are lurking variables, but unsure as to how this relates to a significant linear correlation.

    Thanks in advance for any help!
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  2. #2
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    I read a story once in a textbook, I will share it with you:


    Basically, it boiled down to this:


    In the summertime in (fill in city here), there was a strong correlation between the purchase of ice cream cones and armed robbery. Does this mean that ice cream cone purchases caused the robberies? No, it just means there was a strong linear correlation.

    It's a very tricky concept to learn. Generally when we think of x increasing and y increasing we are tempted to read into it too much and say "x causes y". Sometimes, x does cause y, or y causes x, but not always.

    Does this help?
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  3. #3
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    Yes that helps significantly.
    I think I just needed an example.

    Thanks!
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  4. #4
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    Wink

    Quote Originally Posted by elizsimca View Post
    I read a story once in a textbook, I will share it with you:


    Basically, it boiled down to this:


    In the summertime in (fill in city here), there was a strong correlation between the purchase of ice cream cones and armed robbery. Does this mean that ice cream cone purchases caused the robberies? No, it just means there was a strong linear correlation.

    It's a very tricky concept to learn. Generally when we think of x increasing and y increasing we are tempted to read into it too much and say "x causes y". Sometimes, x does cause y, or y causes x, but not always.

    Does this help?
    Obviously the robbers are using their ill-gotten gains to buy lots of ice cream.
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