Correlation/Causation: Health and Wellbeing

I’m waiting for my taxi to the airport, so this will be short and sweet.

A perfect example of the correlation/causation problem. Daughters and I were watching some of the Olympics. We just happened to catch the last couple of holes of the golf. Coming to the last hole, Justin Rose (GB) and Stenson (?) (Sweden) were level and the third competitor was out of it. Rose and Stenson both hit the green with their third shots (the hole was a par 5), but Stenson was around 12′ away from the hole and Rose was only about 2′ away. When Stenson putted, the four of us shouted, “MISS! MISS! MISS!”. His putt missed. It must have missed because we shouted so loudly. Don’t believe me? Right. Stenson charged the putt 4′ past, so he had to go again because he was furthest away. The same thing happened again! He missed! That must surely prove it? Why not?

There are loads and load of similar correlations which are clearly just that. I have often quoted how divorces rose in line with the import of apples after WW2.

Fisher, the great statistician, was not happy with Doll’s correlation of smoking and LC. Other studies found similar results in different parts of the world, but the methods used were very similar. Why expect a different result? Kitty Little, in South Africa, found that windy cities had no where near as much LC and those cities which were more likely to have stagnant air. Similar results came when studying city dwellers and country dwellers. But those studies were ignored.


‘ Health and Wellbeing’. Are they the same thing? Could you have poor health but lots of wellbeing and vice-versa?


See you all next week.


One Response to “Correlation/Causation: Health and Wellbeing”

  1. garyk30 Says:

    I am not as spry as I used to be; but, I am quite content and happy.

    There are a number of healthy athletes that finished fourth in the Olympics that are neither content or happy.

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