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Correlation vs Causation

 , updated on November 21, 2016
Correlation is a relationship between two things. Causation is a specific relationship between two things where one causes the other.
It is extremely common for correlation to be confused with causation. In other words, when two things are related it is tempting to think that one causes the other.
The assumption that correlation implies causation, is considered a logical fallacy known as questionable cause. It is a common reason for mistakes in science, business, legal proceedings and professions such as medicine.
Consider data that shows that gray cars are statistically involved in less accidents than other colors of car in a particular city. It might be tempting to conclude that gray is a safer color for cars. However, there are a large number of alternative factors that could explain the data. People who buy gray cars may be older or more conservative in their driving habits. Alternatively, gray cars may be likely to be a certain type of model. For example, it may be rare for sports cars to be gray.
Overview: Correlation vs Causation
TypeStatistical Fallacy
Correlation DefinitionA relationship between things.
Causation DefinitionOne thing that causes another
Related RulesCorrelation does not imply causation
Related ConceptsApples & Oranges
Questionable Cause
Cognitive Biases

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