Planet Infowars
February 10, 2014

CNN reporter Brooke Baldwin / Screengrab taken from YouTube.
CNN reporter Brooke Baldwin / Screengrab taken from YouTube.
A misleading report by CNN inferred a causal relationship from a study that only demonstrated a correlation.

The study found that couples who did not have children were happier than couples who did. Data was obtained comparing levels of happiness of couples with children to those without children. No manipulation of variables was made by the researchers.

In this study having kids/not having kids would need to be manipulated (Independent Variable) and happiness measured (Dependent Variable) in order to draw the causal conclusion found by CNN. The journalist Brooke Baldwin concluded from the study, “Want to have a happy marriage? Then don’t have kids.”

This statement is inaccurate as it concludes the study found that having kids causes unhappiness to couples.

Such a conclusion does not follow nor is inferred from this study, because no cause and effect relationship was established (variables were not manipulated, it was not an experiment). No temporal relationship was established (ie couple was happy, –> then had kids, –> then was no longer happy). No alternative explanations have been ruled out.

There was no control for extraneous variables, so it is likely that many other factors influenced the findings. Something else could have caused both happiness level and whether a couple had kids/no kids (personality, income level, culture, etc.), the relationship may have been reversed (being happy causes couples to not have kids), etc.

Manipulating variables, establishing temporal order, accounting for extraneous variables (establishing that the effects were not caused by something else) are all required in order to conclude a causal relationship.

This report is a distortion of the facts. Correlation does not mean causation goes the mantra well known by scientists and students.

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This post first appeared in the U.S. News category.

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