A headline in the Los Angeles Times mistakenly reported a causal relationship based only on correlational data. The headline, “Watching TV shortens life span, study finds,” implies that a factor causes an outcome. However, as is clear in the body of the article by Jeannine Stein: “Researchers found a strong connection between TV hours and death from cardiovascular disease, not just among the overweight and obese, but among people who had a healthy weight and exercised.”
As is true with many tools (see, e.g., the scalpel), language is a powerful tool that can misused. We educators must do a better job of helping students understand the logical relations in statements. To be sure, small slips are bound to occur; as the saying goes, “nobody’s perfect.” Therefore, it’s incumbent on we readers to be alert for misinformation.
Read Ms. Stein’s story about the correlation between inactivity and cardiovascular health.