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From association to causation: Some remarks on the history of statistics
 Statist. Sci
, 1999
"... The “numerical method ” in medicine goes back to Pierre Louis ’ study of pneumonia (1835), and John Snow’s book on the epidemiology of cholera (1855). Snow took advantage of natural experiments and used convergent lines of evidence to demonstrate that cholera is a waterborne infectious disease. More ..."
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Cited by 23 (6 self)
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The “numerical method ” in medicine goes back to Pierre Louis ’ study of pneumonia (1835), and John Snow’s book on the epidemiology of cholera (1855). Snow took advantage of natural experiments and used convergent lines of evidence to demonstrate that cholera is a waterborne infectious disease. More recently, investigators in the social and life sciences have used statistical models and significance tests to deduce causeandeffect relationships from patterns of association; an early example is Yule’s study on the causes of poverty (1899). In my view, this modeling enterprise has not been successful. Investigators tend to neglect the difficulties in establishing causal relations, and the mathematical complexities obscure rather than clarify the assumptions on which the analysis is based. Formal statistical inference is, by its nature, conditional. If maintained hypotheses A, B, C,... hold, then H can be tested against the data. However, if A, B, C,... remain in doubt, so must inferences about H. Careful scrutiny of maintained hypotheses should therefore be a critical part of empirical work—a principle honored more often in the breach than the observance. Snow’s work on cholera will be contrasted with modern studies that depend on statistical models and tests of significance. The examples may help to clarify the limits of current statistical techniques for making causal inferences from patterns of association. 1.
On specifying graphical models for causation, and the identification problem
 Evaluation Review
, 2004
"... This paper (which is mainly expository) sets up graphical models for causation, having a bit less than the usual complement of hypothetical counterfactuals. Assuming the invariance of error distributions may be essential for causal inference, but the errors themselves need not be invariant. Graphs c ..."
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Cited by 18 (1 self)
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This paper (which is mainly expository) sets up graphical models for causation, having a bit less than the usual complement of hypothetical counterfactuals. Assuming the invariance of error distributions may be essential for causal inference, but the errors themselves need not be invariant. Graphs can be interpreted using conditional distributions, so that we can better address connections between the mathematical framework and causality in the world. The identification problem is posed in terms of conditionals. As will be seen, causal relationships cannot be inferred from a data set by running regressions unless there is substantial prior knowledge about the mechanisms that generated the data. There are few successful applications of graphical models, mainly because few causal pathways can be excluded on a priori grounds. The invariance conditions themselves remain to be assessed.
From association to causation via regression
 Indiana: University of Notre Dame
, 1997
"... For nearly a century, investigators in the social sciences have used regression models to deduce causeandeffect relationships from patterns of association. Path models and automated search procedures are more recent developments. In my view, this enterprise has not been successful. The models tend ..."
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Cited by 16 (6 self)
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For nearly a century, investigators in the social sciences have used regression models to deduce causeandeffect relationships from patterns of association. Path models and automated search procedures are more recent developments. In my view, this enterprise has not been successful. The models tend to neglect the difficulties in establishing causal relations, and the mathematical complexities tend to obscure rather than clarify the assumptions on which the analysis is based. Formal statistical inference is, by its nature, conditional. If maintained hypotheses A, B, C,... hold, then H can be tested against the data. However, if A, B, C,... remain in doubt, so must inferences about H. Careful scrutiny of maintained hypotheses should therefore be a critical part of empirical work a principle honored more often in the breach than the observance.
Statistical Models for Causation
, 2005
"... We review the basis for inferring causation by statistical modeling. Parameters should be stable under interventions, and so should error distributions. There are also statistical conditions on the errors. Stability is difficult to establish a priori, and the statistical conditions are equally probl ..."
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Cited by 1 (0 self)
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We review the basis for inferring causation by statistical modeling. Parameters should be stable under interventions, and so should error distributions. There are also statistical conditions on the errors. Stability is difficult to establish a priori, and the statistical conditions are equally problematic. Therefore, causal relationships are seldom to be inferred from a data set by running statistical algorithms, unless there is substantial prior knowledge about the mechanisms that generated the data. We begin with linear models (regression analysis) and then turn to graphical models, which may in principle be nonlinear.
17: CaseControl Studies (Odds Ratios)
"... The prior chapter use risk ratios from cohort studies to quantify exposure–disease relationships. This chapter uses odds ratios from casecontrol studies for the same purpose. We will discuss the sampling theory behind casecontrol studies in lecture. For details, see pp. 208 – 212 in my text Epidem ..."
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The prior chapter use risk ratios from cohort studies to quantify exposure–disease relationships. This chapter uses odds ratios from casecontrol studies for the same purpose. We will discuss the sampling theory behind casecontrol studies in lecture. For details, see pp. 208 – 212 in my text Epidemiology Kept Simple. The general idea is to select all cases in the population and a simple random sample of noncases (controls). The crosstabulated data looks like this: Exposure Response variable variable + − Total + a1 b1 n1 − a2 b2 n2 Total m1 m2 N Casecontrol studies can not calculate incidences or prevalences. They can, however, calculate exposure odds ratios: O ˆ R =