How to Tell if Correlation Implies Causation

Reading on correlation and causation

Stats With Cats Blog

Critter growlYou’ve probably heard the admonition:

Correlation Does Not Imply Causation.

Everyone agrees that correlation is not the same as causation. However, those two words — correlation and causation — have generated quite a bit of discussion.

Why Causality Matters

No one gets perturbed if you say two conditions or events are correlated but even suggest that causation is possible and you’ll get the clichéd admonition and perhaps with even harsher criticism. It’s not easy to prove causality, though, so there must be a reason for putting in the effort. For example, if you can figure out what causes a condition or event, you can:

  • Promote the relationship to reap benefits, such as between agricultural methods and crop production or pharmaceuticals and recovery from illnesses.
  • Prevent the cause to avoid harmful consequences, such as airline crashes and manufacturing defects.
  • Prepare for unavoidable harmful consequences, such as natural disasters, like floods.

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