AIBU (wrong board, I know) to think that correlation does not imply causation?

(14 Posts)
stealthsquiggle Wed 20-Apr-16 12:19:57

I heard this report (titled "after school clubs 'boost poorer pupils' results") on the radio this morning

Surely this could be spectacularly missing the point? Is it not at least as likely that there is a strong correlation between those low income parents and children who are motivated to join and persist with after school activities and those who are also motivated when it comes to academic results, rather than that attending an after school football session improves the results of a child who would otherwise struggle confused?

Or is it me who has missed the point? I admit I am not an expert by any means and have not read the original research, just the BBC coverage of it.

SomedayMyPrinceWillCome Wed 20-Apr-16 12:26:02

I thought exactly the same

TheSpottedZebra Wed 20-Apr-16 12:28:52

So many yeses. It's just shoddy journalism and poor thinking, isn't it?
NB I have not actually read the report eithet, so they may have come to that conclusion.

Nicky333 Wed 20-Apr-16 12:28:52

Not really related, but a funny website to look at regarding spurious correlations: tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations

stealthsquiggle Wed 20-Apr-16 12:35:00

I love those Tyler Vigen quotes.

We may be a little obsessive about this in our household. My 13yo is familiar with the phrase "correlation does not imply causation" and is a big fan of "more or less" on R4, both due to parental brainwashing influence blush

Nicky333 Wed 20-Apr-16 14:15:28

Good parenting skills! Love it!

foragogo Wed 20-Apr-16 14:18:48

7/800 people a year die getting tangled in their bedsheets?!!!

OddBoots Wed 20-Apr-16 14:23:00

That is quite possible but the bigger problem (in my opinion) is that it says "The findings come as ministers plan to use money from a sugar tax on fizzy drinks to fund after-school activities." without mentioning that this fund won't be allocated on the basis of need, giving priority to schools with the most disadvantaged pupils. It will instead depend on the school having the resources to put together a strong bid for the funds.

angelos02 Wed 20-Apr-16 14:40:41

My favourite is that children that learn a musical instrument are more likely to do better in their qualifications. No shit? Nothing to do with the type of parents that encourage their children to play an instrument are also more likely to be very supportive of their children's education in general.

Can't believe that people actually get paid to produce these blindingly obvious reports.

BertrandRussell Wed 20-Apr-16 14:45:14

In My Glorious Reign the first years of school will,be devoted to learning about Occam'' Razor, correlation not indicating causation and that it is OK to say "I don't know"- both personally and in relation to explaining the world about us.

Wombat45 Wed 20-Apr-16 16:47:52

reminds me of this cartoon:

HildaOgdensMuriel Fri 22-Apr-16 14:07:14

Angelos one of my children is a bit slapdash and can't be bothered to practice and has essentially given up instrumental music he also fails to focus on schoolwork. The other is a conscientious soul and is doing well at music and also at school work. What a surprise.

The first is the one with a natural rythym and good singing voice -wouldn't join the choir though. The second didn't sound good but has carried on with the choir and is sounding better.

ProfessorPreciseaBug Sat 23-Apr-16 08:07:02

This website has some howlers....

tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations

correlation is just chance..

var123 Tue 26-Apr-16 09:46:05

Correlation does not prove causation but it often gives a clue to the cause e.g. heavy smoking and lung cancer.
Then there are other times when there is a link but it doesn't tell the whole story. e.g. crime goes up after more police are recruited but only because people think they've a better chance of getting the crime solved so it becomes worth reporting.

There are two things that have me feeling that the govt is trying to mislead people right now:-

1. More people die in hospital at weekends means that hospitals should be fully operatational 7 days a week. No, it doesn't. It means that only the really sick are still there on Friday night, as the rest have been discharged and all those destined to have complications from routine operations aren't scheduled to come in fro those operations until Monday morning.

2. Statistics show that on average schools improve shortly after they become academies, so academies are by implication a better way to run schools. However, what the people that say that forget to mention is that a large number of academies were forced into it after getting a 4 from Ofsted. So, the school is at its lowest point and suddenly resources and a new headteacher are being thrown at it. Any school has a better than average chance of improving under those circumstances, so it has nothing to do with their legal status or whether they are under LA control or not.

I am not saying that academies or 7 day hospitals are a bad idea. However, it is wrong to mislead by giving these sort of reasons. Politicians obviously think we are all stupid!

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