Researchers from Princeton University received mass media attention when they recently predicted the demise of Facebook. Data scientists at Facebook soonhit back with their own ‘study:’ “In keeping with the scientific principle (used by Princeton) ‘correlation equals causation,’ our research unequivocally demonstrated that Princeton may be in danger of disappearing entirely.”
Is it surprising that the original Princeton study found its way onto the front pages of newspapers and magazines across the world? Probably not – the fact is statistical results with a causal interpretation have a stronger effect on our thinking than non-causal information.
What the data scientists at Princeton relied upon in presenting their paper was our individual human inability to think statistically. On the other-hand there is a well-known phrase within science and statistics where it is emphasized thatcorrelation does not imply causation. The Facebook researchers were in fact poking fun at the ‘silly use of correlation equals causation.’ Causality can be very complex.
See on robotenomics.com