Mesmerized: With Guests Mara Rockliff & John List

Choiceology: Season 10 Episode 6

November 6, 2022
Why is it so difficult to separate correlation from causation?
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After you listen

It's easy to misunderstand correlations between market data and the economy at large—which can adversely impact your investing decisions.

  • To learn more, check out the Financial Decoder podcast, hosted by Mark Riepe. It's a great resource for digging into the financial implications of the phenomena explored on Choiceology.

It seems like every other week there's a news report about how coffee will help you live longer or will shorten your life. There are similar reports about vitamins and water consumption and any number of other health-related studies. So why do we see so much conflicting information around scientific research in the media?

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, a look at the slippery problem of separating correlation from causation.

You'll hear the fascinating story of Franz Mesmer and the apparently miraculous effects of what he dubbed animal magnetism. Author Mara Rockliff recounts the sway that Mesmer held over the Parisian public and how Benjamin Franklin transformed the scientific method in his quest to find the truth.

Mara Rockliff has written several books for young readers, including the multiple award-winning Mesmerized: How Benjamin Franklin Solved a Mystery That Baffled All of France.

Next, economics professor John List joins Katy to discuss the reasons why we confuse correlation and causation and explains the best practices for separating the two in the study of charitable giving, early childhood education, business, and policy.

John List is the Kenneth C. Griffin Distinguished Service Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago and the chief economist at Walmart.

Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab. 

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