Clearing up confusion between correlation and ... - CLL Support

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Clearing up confusion between correlation and causation

AussieNeil profile image

Those of us interested in attempts to identify the cause of cancers and the long term adverse impacts of exposure to drugs would be well aware of the difficulties in determining whether or not there's a causative relationship, even when there's a strong correlation. This excellent and very entertaining article by Jon Borwein, Laureate Professor of Mathematics and Michael Rose, PhD Candidate, School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at University of Newcastle, Australia will hopefully clarify what can be a very confusing subject:

I well remember the concern years back (only recently debunked) as to whether higher incidences of childhood leukaemia were due to the children living under high voltage power lines. As one researcher commented, the apparent correlation could be due to poorer diets provided to children living in the lower socio-economic neighbourhoods associated with high voltage power distribution and nothing to do with the electric and magnetic fields from the power lines.

Here's a summary (from 2005) on the association between magnetic fields from electric power and cancer from the National Cancer Institute:

Photo: There was definitely correlation between this not so sleepy lizard hissing at me and me waving my hat at him (causation)...

2 Replies

yikes! didn't see big teeth, certainly a scary mouth..... how was his breath.... got mints?

I do remember the high voltage power lines story and it' sticks in my head the info relating to low levels of radiation exposure come with no known adverse affects....... hmmmm some things can't be measured even in these times. I don't feel convince that high voltage and gamma radiation doesn't affect the body.

PaulaS profile image

Interesting articles on an important subject. I enjoyed reading them - specially the first one. Thanks Neil.

The link below (that Chris posted a couple of weeks ago), also touches this theme. The program discusses the reluctance some parents have in getting children vaccinated, for fears that it will cause other health problems. Most of those problems have now been proved not to be caused by the vaccines. But there's a growing tendency for parents not to vaccinate, thus lowering the "herd immunity" in our societies - which is a particular problem for folk with CLL...


P.S. I love the lizard - scary mouth and all...