I recently wrote a blog post (original here) about a scientific study. At the end, I included some "fine print" which states, among other things:
Correlation does not mean causation. It’s theoretically possible that trans fat isn’t the culprit here, but that some other, as-of-yet undiscovered factor is the true cause of the poor memory test performance.
After reading the post, my wife asked me "Why did you write a blog post where you explain the dangers of trans fat, then at the end you say the study is wrong?"
How can I find a balance between unfounded, sensationalist reporting ("Drinking coffee makes your breasts smaller"), and confusing everyone who doesn't know how to read scientific literature?
Some of my thoughts:
- Eliminate the "fine print" section entirely, and address accusations of false reporting if/when they arise.
- Make the fine print truly fine, so that it doesn't appear as part of the article, but is still present for sticklers.
- Fully explain how science works, so that people like my wife won't think I'm saying the science was bogus.
What are your suggestions?
correlationis a specific linear relation. Unless the exact formula has been used, you can't claim it. Use
association. But then it becomes even more confusing.