Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Correlation vs. causation across disciplines

I’m consistently blown away by what passes for causal analysis in medical journals.

Here’s a cruel and simplified guide to prevailing opinion and practice:

Medical research: Correlation never implies causation.

Epidemiological research: My correlation implies causation, because I controlled for socioeconomic status.

Economics: Confused and conflicted, but sometimes correlation implies causation. If you can find a cool instrumental variable we’ll surely publish you.

I side with the economists on this one.

--Chris Blattman on sloppy causal inference

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