[ExI] simpson's paradox - bill w

Dave Sill sparge at gmail.com
Sat Jan 25 15:56:58 UTC 2020

On Sat, Jan 25, 2020 at 10:49 AM William Flynn Wallace via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> This one is new to me.
> During a faculty meeting, a group of 9th grade teachers decided they
> needed to further understand what the optimal duration of study is for
> students to achieve satisfactory results. So, they decided to gather the
> approximate number of hours students were studying, and then compare to the
> student’s test scores.
> Mr. Simpson convinced the faculty that more data means better results, and
> so all of the teachers integrated their cross-course data for the analysis.
> The results were astounding. To everyone’s confusion, the less a student
> studied, the higher they tend to score on tests.
> In fact, the coefficient associated with this correlation was -0.7981, a
> strongly negative relationship.
> Should they be encouraging their students to study less? How in the world
> could data be backing up such a claim? Surely something was missing.
This is the classic confusion of correlation with causation. If these
statistics were valid, it wouldn't mean that they should discourage
studying. For example, it could be that more intelligent students need less
time to prepare, and less intelligent ones don't perform as well, even with
more preparation.

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