Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Correlation vs Causation

One of the toughest things for beginning Stats courses to teach is the idea that:

Correlation does NOT mean Causation

What does that mean?

Just because two things are often found in common, does NOT mean that one caused the other.

A prime example is religion. Families that raise kids who succeed often are regular church goers. However, going to church, by itself, is NOT necessarily connected with successful kids. That distinction is not shown in this article.
Even the religious gap between the rich and the poor—traditionally rather narrow—is widening. These days, Mr. Putnam laments, ‘poor families are generally less involved in religious communities than affluent families,’ which is unfortunate, he notes, given that churchgoing is associated with better performance in school, less drinking and drug use, and less delinquency.
In my early teaching career, I taught at a VERY tough school in Cleveland. In one of my classes, there was a kid who was gang-connected (both by his own admission and by the many tats he wore), foul-mouthed, often chemically altered, and someone who did not hesitate to use force with his peers - male or female. His mom took him to church regularly, hoping to offset the environment he was being raised in.

Didn't help. One of his more infamous fights occurred when he was carrying his Bible at school. Some kid said something - I don't remember what - and it was ON.

He used the Bible to administer the smack-down. Literally, Bible-thumping.

Does that mean that religion is of no use?

No.

IF the parent ACTS to put their religious convictions into practice in their own life - not shacking up, not using, working for a living, not hanging out with bad influences, etc., then the religious influence might tip the scales. However, it's the way that parent puts their faith into practice that really makes the difference, not dragging the kid into the building.

Probably the most influential thing a parent can do to raise good kids is to get out of the hood. That DOESN'T mean moving to a high-priced neighborhood that will require that parent to put in long hours at work, just moving to a less crime-ridden neighborhood. While that will reduce the number of good people in that urban neighborhood, which will likely make it more miserable, I maintain that individuals do not have the responsibility to put their own kids in harm's way just to prove a point.

Some of the people from the Katrina flood were able, after relocation, to build better lives far from New Orleans. Some of them moved to small towns and rural areas, and reduced their kids' exposure to the seamier side of life. Others broke with the old family/friendship relationships that were holding them back, and made a new life.

No matter what method parents use, the most important thing is to PUT THE KID FIRST.

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