Emphasizing that this may well be the most important point she makes in the course, PSYCH 280 Professor Laura Whitney reportedly got immensely worked up while discussing the distinction between correlation and causation.
“Write it on a sticky note, repeat it to yourself, do whatever it takes to nail this point through your heads,” said Whitney to students sitting in 1324 East Hall. “Correlation does not equal causation! Can I scream this any louder? Does not equal! Let that be the one piece of information I leave on this earth.”
Whitney then brought up a PowerPoint slide that read only “Correlation=Causation,” featuring a giant red “X” crossing over it. “Hmm, an entire slide dedicated to just this concept. Might that mean this will be covered on the final exam?” asked Whitney, pretending to scratch her chin in thought. “Hint, hint: It will be.”
Whitney asserted that “whether [she has] to stand next to [students’] ears and shout it into a megaphone,” she would make sure the entire class got a grasp of the concept.
“Yeah, you could just see Dr. Whitney’s face turning redder and redder as she explained that there’s a misleading correlation between ice cream sales and drowning incidents,” said LSA sophomore Brianna Kunkle. “Although now, come to think of it, I forget if that was actually because ice cream is causing people to drown or the other way around.”