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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Causation vs. Correlation (correct this time!)

This story discusses new research indicating that people characterized by asymmetry, either in ears, eyes, hands, etc., are more likely to be agressive and perhaps should not be antagonized - unless you are itching for a fight.

Initially, I anticipated a standard causation-correlation confusion, but was pleasantly surprised that the study's leader said:
"Stressors during pregnancy may lead to asymmetrical body parts. The same stressors will also affect development of the central nervous system, which involves impulse control and aggression...So while asymmetry doesn't cause aggression, they both seem to be correlated to similar factors during pregnancy."

Hooray!!! These folks recognized the 'z' factor - x and y are correlated because they are caused by some other variable. Oh, how us econometrics teachers long for the day when this simple concept is finally understood.

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