May

14

Wondering what the statisticians on Dailyspec think of this Atlantic article "When Correllation is not Causation but Something Much More Screwy" :

One of [UCLA professor Judas] Pearl's most interesting deductions is the idea of conditioning on a collider. If a case being observed is a function of two variables then this will induce an artifactual negative correlation between the variables. This is true even if in the broader population there is no correlation (or even a mild positive correlation) between the variables.

The article cites Professor Cowen's rules for dining out:

Assume that the two main things that let restaurants succeed are food quality and various other things that we can collectively call atmosphere. The logic of conditioning on a collider implies that among surviving restaurants there should be a negative correlation between atmosphere and food. This implies that if you are monomaniacally focused on good food you should follow the heuristic of avoiding fashionistas and seeking out unpopular ethnic groups as the only way such places could possibly stay in business is if they offer good food.


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