# Do you know the difference between causation and correlation?

It's a fact that there is a direct correlation between the number of elephants in a city zoo and the number of crimes committed in that city.

It's a fact that there is a correlation between ice cream sales and instances of rape.

Now some of you have such a problem determining the difference between correlation and causation.

Are elephants the cause of crime? Is ice cream the cause of rape?

Relevance

Statistics point out correlations but not causes. One or the other of the correlatives might be a cause of the other. Or, more likely, they are both caused by some third factor like population increase or change of weather. Modern day people have been pumped full of correlations, and are thus deluded. For example, the connection between lung cancer and smoking is strong, but correlative rather than causational.

• Anonymous
5 years ago

Have you studied the topic on correlation and linear regression yet? Anyway, correlation simply means finding just ANY relation between x and y, for instance. That means, you get an equation mindlessly from all x and y values and figure out a connecting equation. In terms of linear correlation (that means only direct y=ax graphs, not bothering about exponentials, lns, cosine etc), it only IMPLIES causation when the product moment coefficient is high, meaning that your equation line fits your set of values very closely. Do take note that this only IMPLIES causation, but it doesn't necessarily mean there is a cause. This is because philosophically speaking, just because 2 unknowns when plotted on a graph, even when they fit very PERFECTLY, it doesn't mean that there is any causation. I could be due to coincidence, if you really want to go deeply into a philosophical context.

The word "correlation" just indicates that there's some kind of connection between two facts, but it doesn't mean that one is the cause of the other. Sometimes, it's the cause, sometimes the consequence, or sometimes the two facts just happen to always be present at the same time in many situations, but nobody knows which one is causing the other or if there really is a relation between both facts.

Source(s): Just me!
• Anonymous

Correlation is not causation. There may be a correlation between ice cream/rape however that does not necessarily mean that is the cause. There are many other variables