Correlation vs. Causation

What’s the difference between being linked and being caused? If I tell you that every time I dropped a water balloon on the ground it broke. You could say gravity caused the water balloon to break. But what if I didn’t tell you were always filling the balloons to their maximum capacity and they were dropped on rough, almost sharp concrete, would you make that same conclusion that gravity caused water balloons to break?

What if they were half full and landed on grass and none broke? Would you conclude that gravity does not cause water balloon breakage?

It seems today the public DEMANDs an explanation for everything, if A, then B. But in just about every case it’s never that simple.

The real explanation of why a water balloon breaks is when the pressure of the water inside the balloon exceeds the tensile strength of the rubber. Sharp objects exert more force per unit square meter than other items such as grass or perfectly flat surfaces. However this is too complicated for journalist catering to a public with poor and getting worse science understanding and desire to create sensation and get attention.

To truly know something is causal  (A implies B) is hard and takes time.

Don’t confuse correlation with causation. While these examples sound funny, you can read about them every day, especially with medical studies and social sciences.

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