Like most people I enjoy a tasty scoop of ice cream especially Oreo blizzards but what few people realize is how dangerous a tree ice cream has become first there's the issue of obesity second there are higher crime rates third there's the loss of life due to a rise in the number of drowning deaths and finally as more ice .

Cream is sold there's an increase in forest fires given these indisputable facts I need you to support my vision of an ice cream free world while banning ice cream trucks from enter in your neighborhood may sound far-fetched when it comes to problem-solving a common issue was misunderstanding the difference between .

Correlation and causation this misunderstanding can influence our decisions sometimes serious consequences that ripple throughout a community correlation is when two things are related but one does not cause the other usually this means the two are in some way related to a third factor but not always if you have a big enough pile of .

Data you can find plenty of relationships that are purely coincidental like the strong relationship between the sale of margarine and divorce rates in the state of Maine with the sale of ice cream the third factor is whether when it is hot outside people buy more ice cream they are more likely to go for a swim and .

There's a general increase in people out and about enjoying the weather helping improve conditions for crime to take place as well as the dry conditions associated with forest fires a note of caution there is a growing trend in our digital world called data dredging this is using analytics to sift through mountains of data hoping to find useful .

Relationships instead of a problem in search of a solution dredging data is a solution looking to find a problem all of what I've just discussed about correlations does not mean that finding a correlation is without value in fact correlations are a vital part of helping us move to the next step the discovery of causation .

Unlike correlation causation is when you can claim that one thing causes another thing to happen in order to make this claim you need to be able to demonstrate an actual cause-and-effect relationship preferably a strong relationship an example most of us are familiar with is the pharmaceutical industry in order to make the claim that a particular drug .

Causes a certain effect such as lowering your cholesterol or growing hair the FDA requires companies support those claims putting the drug through a four phase twelve step process that takes approximately 12 years this process uses control groups and clinical trials to test the drug making sure that X causes Y and that the drug is safe the .

Acceptable error rate can go as high as 5% for some drugs meaning that the clinical trials prove that there's a 95% chance the drug does what it claims drugs with serious health implications such as those used to treat a heart condition are held to an even stricter standard or requiring proof up to 99% effectiveness back to ice cream what .

About ice cream and obesity while it may seem like common sense that it does cause obesity the fact is that we don't yet know the true strength of the relationship if we look at the sale of ice cream there's actually an inverse relationship with weight people gain weight in the winter when sales are low and lose weight in the warm summer .

Months when more ice creams being consumed this might suggest ice cream is the new diet food luckily you now know to be cautious of drawing conclusions of causation from correlation instead recent research on the subject has been looking at different types of sugars used in making a wide range of sweet foods .

What scientists have discovered is it the hypothalamus which is an area of the brain that regulates the human appetite reacts differently when we consume food with fruit posts instead of glucose this has researchers speculating that eating high fructose foods such as ice cream may result in people not feeling full so they continue to eat this theory proves .

Difficult however when we start considering apples and other natural fruits also contain fructose not just ice cream and chocolate cake as you can see causation is quite a bit different than correlation finding correlations is easy proving causation is hard no wonder it takes 12 years just to prove that a pill causes hair to grow .

The bottom line on the news in boardrooms and coffee shops everywhere you go you will hear claims that X causes Y from politics to the weather from the stock market to personal relationship it is human nature to try and explain things to create stories that make sense just keep in mind as you hear a claim of what causes what that .

Correlation is not causation
To make better decisions and improve your problem-solving​ skills it is important to understand the difference between correlation and causation. Enroll in a FREE 30-minute course on using S.M.A.R.T. goals to achieve more in less time.