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Current events: Correlation vs. causation

Activity Resources

Review: Bennett, J. O., Briggs, W. L., & Triola, M. F. (2014)., Chapter 8
McCoy, K.
Park, A. (2011, March 24).
Rochman, B. (2011, April 11).
Main Task: Analyze Statistics in the News
In your activity resources above are three news articles that report on scientific studies and make recommendations on the basis of them. Write a paper analyzing these articles. For each article answer these questions and give reasons for your answers:

What evidence does the article provide for an association (correlation) between the phenomena discussed?
Drawing on your text's discussion of how to interpret correlations, what would you want to check to be confident that there is actually a correlation?
What is the argument that the relationship is causal?
Is the argument for the causal relationship convincing?
If the argument is not convincing, what additional evidence is needed to make a convincing argument that the relationship is causal?
Does it make sense to make changes in your life based on the article?
Support your paper with a minimum of three (3) scholarly resources. In addition to these specified resources, other appropriate scholarly resources, including older articles, may be included.

Solution Preview

All three articles based their argument on correlation. None of these have experiments where the variables are controlled, participants are randomly assigned or other causal variables are considered. Each will be discussed in turn below.

McCoy, K. (2010). The Link Between Sleep and Weight. Everyday Health, August 17, Retrieved 9/8/2013 from http://www.everydayhealth.com/sleep/101/tips/snooze-control-suggested-for-overweight-children.aspx

1. What evidence does the article provide for an association (correlation) between the phenomena discussed?

Weight gain and sleep deprivation have both grown dramatically during the same time period. Also, participants that report sleep problems tend to have gained weight or be heavy.

2. Drawing on your text's discussion of how to interpret correlations, what would you want to check to be confident that there is actually a correlation?

I would want to have sleep deprived people randomly assigned to two groups, one that got caught up on sleep and the others that didn't change their sleep. Then see how the weight changes. I would also like to see good sleepers randomly assigned to two groups, one that stayed the same and one that agreed to sleep four hours a night and see what happens to weight.

3. What is the argument that the relationship is causal?

Lack of sleep changes hormones that influence appetite and so the link is believed to be biological and not just correlational. So there is a biological cause hypothesized.

4. Is the argument for the causal relationship convincing?

Yes, it seems like a plausible theory if you understand the anatomy and endocrine system. However, they need an actual experiment to test the theory. So, I am interested but not convinced.

5. If the argument is not convincing, what additional evidence is ...

Solution Summary

Your discussion is 845 words and three references and discusses three articles on weight gain, one about church-goers, one about mothers, and one about sleep deprivation.

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