The Friday Funny: New Poll Shows Correlation is Causation

There have been quite a few posts on Genuine Evaluation on the topic of causation. We got a kick out of this satirical newspaper report of a polling showing that correlation is, in fact, causality. What a relief!

A few snippets to whet your appetite:

WASHINGTON (AP) The results of a new survey conducted by pollsters suggest that, contrary to common scientific wisdom, correlation does in fact imply causation. The highly reputable source, Gallup Polls, Inc., surveyed 1009 Americans during the month of October and asked them, “Do you believe correlation implies causation?” An overwhelming 64% of American’s answered “YES”, while only 38% replied “NO”. Another 8% were undecided. This result threatens to shake the foundations of both the scientific and mainstream community.

Others are excited because this new, important result actually gives insight into why the result occurred in the first place. “If you look at the numbers over the past two decades, you can see that Americans have been placing less and less faith in the old maxim ‘Correlation is not Causation’ as time progresses.” explained pollster and pop media icon Sarah Purcell. “Now, with the results of the latest poll, we are able to determine that people’s lack of belief in correlation not being causal has caused correlation to now become causal. It is a real advance in the field of meta-epistemology.”

Of course, the article also includes views from the scientific community to add credibility and depth:

The scientific community is deeply divided on this matter. “It sure makes my job a lot easier.” confided neuroscientist Thad Polk. “Those who criticize my work always point out that, although highly correlated, cerebral blood flow is not ‘thought’. Now that we know correlation IS causal, I can solve that pesky mind-body problem and conclude that thinking is merely the dynamic movement of blood within cerebral tissue. This is going to make getting tenure a piece of cake!”

Anti-correlationist Travis Seymour is more cynical. “What about all the previous correlational results? Do they get grandfathered in? Like, the old stock market/hemline Pearson’s rho is about 0.85. Does this mean dress lengths actually dictated the stock market, even though they did it at a time when correlation did not imply causation? And what about negative and marginally significant correlations? These questions must be answered before the scientific community will accept the results of the poll wholeheartedly. More research is definitely needed.”

The full article may be viewed at devpsy.org, who note that this column was produced originally in the Happy Hour Archives, a collection of cognitive psychology humor.

1 comment to The Friday Funny: New Poll Shows Correlation is Causation

  • Mike Morris

    Not so fast. While polls may indicate that correlation is now causation, a recent post-modernist manifesto (“Manifesto,” by Jean-Suite de Mer) claims that causation is simply a concept imposed by the ruling class on the masses. “Nothing is caused,” de Mer asserts. “Stuff just happens.”