vrijdag 23 mei 2014

Why Balkan Priests Need Some Basic Statistics

A reflection on statistics and the ignorance of Balkan priests

One of the first lessons you learn in a basic statistics course is that "a correlation is not necessary a causation". When you find a significant relationship between two variables, it does not automatically entail that there is a causal connection between the two. For instance, researchers found a significant relation between the number of storks nesting in the city and the number of babies born in the city. Is this evidence for the Stork Theory? Do storks deliver babies? Not really, a third variable caused the seeming relation between storks and nests. It turned out that the city under investigation (Copenhagen, Denmark) expanded which resulted in more nesting places for the storks and more people (and babies) in the city.

Now why this statistical lesson? It seems that religious leaders in the Balkan have not quite grasped the concepts of correlation and causation which I just illustrated. Several church leaders have claimed that the recent floods in the Balkan where a "divine punishment" for the Eurovision contest victory of Conchita Wurst. One of the leaders, Patriarch Amfilohije, said that "God sent the rains as a reminder that people should not join the wild side." So, these priests see a direct causation between the floods and the victory of Conchita Wurst? I guess basic statistics (let alone science) is part of the religious education of these priests...

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