The adventure that my crew and I embarked on this year has been an eye opener on every level of the human experience. We were physically, emotionally and philosophically challenged with every episode. It been an absolute privilege to be invited into these communities and hear very intimate stories of how these individuals came to be in such disparaging circumstances.
What elevatesthis innocentreversal of association to “paradoxical” status, and why it hascaptured the fascination of statisticians, mathematiciansand philosophers for over a century are questionsthat we discussed at length on this (and other) blogs. The reasonI am back to this topic is the publication of four recentpapers that give us a panoramic viewat how the understandingof causal reasoning has progressed in communities that do notusually participate in our discussions.As readers of this blog recall,I have been trying since the publication ofCausality(2000) to convince statisticians, philosophersand other scientific communities that Simpson’s paradox is: (1) a product of wrongly applied causal principles, and (2) that it can be fully resolved using modern tools of causal inference.The four papers to be discussed do not fully agree with the proposed resolution.To reiterate my position, Simpson’s paradoxis (quoting Lord Russell) “another relic of a bygone age,” anage when we believed that everypeculiarity in the data can be understood and resolved by statisticalmeans. Ironically, Simpson has actually becomean educational tool fordemonstrating the limits of statistical methods, and why causal,rather than statistical considerations are necessaryto avoid paradoxical interpretations of data.
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