For example, in the late 1940s, before there was a polio vaccine, public health experts in America noted that polio cases increased in step with the consumption of ice cream and soft drinks, according to David Alan Grier, a historian and statistician at George Washington University. Eliminating such treats was even recommended as part of an anti-polio diet. It turned out that polio outbreaks were most common in the hot months of summer, when people naturally ate more ice cream, showing only an association, Mr. Grier said.Statistics can be bad for your health, or at least bad for your utility. Just how often do we mistake correlation for causation?
Monday, 10 August 2009
Correlation is not causation.
From an article in the New York Times,