Statistics: When Confounding Variables Are Out of Control

Does ice cream cause drownings? Let’s think about this statistically. Consider that, in any given city, daily sales of ice cream are, most likely, positively correlated with daily rates of drownings.

Now, no matter how strong this correlation is, it doesn’t really mean that ice cream is dangerous. Rather, the association exists because of a ‘confound’ variable. In this case it’s temperature: on sunny days, people tend to eat more ice cream and they also tend to go swimming more often, thu

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