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People don’t mate randomly – but the flawed assumption that they do is an essential part of many studies linking genes to diseases and traits

Richard Border, University of California, Los Angeles and Noah Zaitlen, University of California, Los Angeles
Posted 11/21/22

The idea that correlation does not imply causation is a fundamental caveat in epidemiological research. A classic example involves a hypothetical link between ice cream sales and drownings – instead of increased ice cream consumption causing more people to drown, it’s plausible that a third variable, summer weather, is driving up an appetite for ice cream and swimming, and hence opportunities to drown.

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