What's the connection between deaths caused entanglement in bed sheets and revenue from skiing facilities?

What's the connection between deaths caused entanglement in bed sheets and revenue from skiing facilities?

There's a famous saying 'Correlation isn’t causation'. The accompanying plot of 10 year's data from the USA, showing the number of people who died by becoming entangled in their bedsheets and total revenue generated by skiing facilities, illustrates this well. Michael J. I. Brown, Associate professor, Monash University, writes an interesting article explaining some of the strategies scientists have in their arsenal for avoiding such attribution errors:

theconversation.com/ufos-cl...

Neil

4 Replies

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  • Haha!

    There's also a 'chicken and egg' problem in some cases - what causes what - even when there is a reason for the correlation.

  • Well it's quite obvious in the example - the children of the deceased are skiing their inheritance away!!

    Getting serious again, yes it can sometimes be difficult to determine which is the cause and which is the consequence if indeed there is an association. When early studies into childhood leukaemia (since disproved) identified a correlation between children living under high voltage power lines and a higher incidence of childhood leukaemia, the initial assumption was that electric fields were somehow responsible, even though a mechanism couldn't be identified. Then a researcher pointed out that land prices under high voltage power lines were lower than in neighbourhoods without the unsightly power lines and perhaps the poorer families living there weren't able to provide their children with good quality food. Subsequent, larger studies showed that this correlation didn't hold - so there was no need to determine which was the cause and which the effect.

    Neil

  • Screw the revenue from skiing facilities. I'm sleeping sheet less from now on.

  • I love it.

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