establishing causality

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Objectives: The objectives of this discussion are to encourage you to think critically about important, yet elusive, research issues and to work collaboratively with your group members.

Background: Causality or causation denotes the relationship between one event (called cause) or events and another event (called effect) which is the consequence of the first. Please read the following New York Times article about the myths of weight loss.

NewYorkTimes13_Myths of Weight Loss Are (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Child obesity is a major health problem in the U.S. A number of methods have been suggested to combat the problem, such as adding P.E. classes and breastfeeding. In this case, adding PE class and breastfeeding would be the causal factors, while weight control would be the expected effect.

A second example is that studying hard will lead to better grades. In this case, studying hard would be the cause and better grades would be the effect.

A third example is whether there is a link between vaccines and autism, shown in the following video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8uRYqsu2W4Links to an external site.

In this clip, the test cases argue, in a nutshell, that vaccines have caused autism. Vaccines would be the cause, while autism would be the effect.

A final example is related to the discussion of the five-second rule, in which one movie theater employee has never gotten sick by eating stuff on the floor. In this case, the cause is eating stuff on the floor and the result is getting sick.

Questions: In your own words, what is causality? What specific criteria have you used to establish causality? To what extent has your understanding of causality evolved (or unchanged) after taking this class? Would you give two or three specific examples that APPEAR to have nomothetic causal relationships, but in fact do not have any? (You can search the term superstition online and see which ones you are familiar with.)

All group members are required to participate in the discussion by posting at least ONE original post (no less than 400 words) and make at least FOUR substantive comments on others’ posts.

Operation: At the minimum, each student should make ONE original post by Wednesday night and FOUR substantive comments by Sunday night in order to receive the full participation credit. The discussion concludes by Sunday night.

What constitutes an original post and a comment?

You should start an original post to express your original thoughts. We expect that each original post should include 400 words or more.

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