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Correlation or Causation? Specific Scenarios for Stats Students

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Listed below are a few random results to consider: Please answer if the results justify the conclusions? Why or why not? Provide comments to both statements with a minimum of a paragraph each. Please list references.

1. In the NFL, teams win more often when they score 13 points than when they score 14. Thus, scoring points is bad.

2. Often when people use regression analysis to estimate the effect of police officers or police spending on crime, they find that cities with larger police forces/budgets have higher crime rates. Therefore, police cause crime.

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Solution Summary

This 650 word solution focuses on the validity of statements regarding correlation and causation for two scenarios.

Solution Preview

When considering these statistics questions, it is important to remember that correlation does not equal causation. If a correlation exists between variables X and Y, then there are three possible explanations to explain the correlation:

- A change in X causes a change in Y

- A change in Y causes a change in X

- A change in something else causes changes in both X and Y
Let's consider the two specific scenarios now.

1. In the NFL, like in most sports, winning is accomplished by having a higher score than the opposing team at the end of the game. In that sense, it doesn't really matter how many points a team scores, just so long as it was more than the other team. Let's think of a few reasons that could explain why a team that scores 13 points is more likely to win compared to a team that scores 14 points. For one, it would be important to examine the defensive statistics for the teams that scored 13 points compared to the teams that scored ...

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