June 5, 2012 by rebelwithalabelmaker
Anthony: When you get to be a hundred, if you want to live forever, you should drink a cup of soda every night.
Me (in my head): Why wait?
Anthony: Seth's grandpa did that and he lived for eleven more years.
Eric: I'm talking to dad about that.
Anthony gives Eric a look like "I don't think Dad's that old yet".
Eric: I don't think Scientists would agree with you (I love how "Scientists" are all one, unified force).
Me: Why don't you think that the Scientists would agree?
Eric: Because it sounds stupid.
Me: Well, scientists try hard not to use their judgement to decide, they use experiments.
Eric: Because that's how to show it's a coincidence.
Me: Or it could be correlation, which doesn't imply causality.
Anthony: Also, did you know that dinosaurs are made of wings? On the inside–even the ones with no wings, are made of wings on the inside.
Me (inside my head): You have a great future in the arts.
Me: I have a great story about correlation and causality.
Eric leans forward, listening raptly.
Anthony (takign up martial arts stances and ignoring us completely): I'm an Earth Bender.
I tell that story that everyone tells their kids, that I learned from faithful reader who is not named Carol, about the scientist that studied peoples' toe lengths and their ability to read. He took a baby, three kids of assorted ages, a few teenagers, and a couple of adults and found conclusively that long toes cause reading ability, since those with the longest toes were the best readers. Eric loves this story–you can tell he can't wait to go to school and tell everyone on the playground about correlation not implying causality.
I keep waiting for him to come home from school with a black eye. The bullies in his playground are clearly lazy and incompetent.
In any case, I told him the story and now he understands correlation. There may or may not be a causal link there.
P.S. I know I've put this next one on the blog before, but it bears repeating…