Correlation studies are just incomplete research

This bit of statistical junk food about the relationship between GPAs and Facebook participation has become a topic of discussion here this week.  It’s been put forward as a sort of case study, for which I’ve proposed an assessment question:

Why did Dr Karpinsky publish such a lightweight finding in a refereed journal and get national press coverage, instead of going after those ‘many third variables that need to be studied’ ?

    (a) She hasn’t been awarded tenure yet and needed another publication, quick.
    (b) She has no idea what other variables might be important, because she didn’t think to include any on her survey instrument.
    (c) She only has 6 months left on her current grant, and this is the only result that is statistically significant.
    (d) Her university is getting hammered in the local media for various personal and financial improprieties and needs some good press, no matter how trivial.
    (e) None of the above.
    (f) All of the above.

As a careful reader might detect, I was not impressed, and chose to engage in a "structured rant" that summarizes my opinion about many of the shortcomings of contemporary university life.  I feel better now.


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