I See Psychology… Everywhere

Erroneous Causality Argument

In my classes when I cover research methods, I show some newspaper articles that appropriately or inappropriately argue causality. I think it’s nice to show that journalists (and researchers) often read more into their data than they should, but it’s also nice to make the point about 3rd variables and reverse causality problems.

Here‘s a great example I got from Yahoo’s news site. The headline: Sexual Lyrics Prompt Teens to Have Sex. They provide little hint of the possibility that kids who have sex are drawn to music that contains such lyrics. Even the researchers make this assertion without acknowledging alternative explanations.

I’m not sayin’ that the claim is wrong, just that they don’t have the basis for the argument, at least beyond speculation.


7 August 2006 - Posted by | Research, Social, Students

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