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Finding root causes of injustice: How to parse causation from correlation?

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  • Cary Memorial Library

    1874 Massachusetts Ave, Lexington, MA (map)

    42.448204 -71.229630

  • Bottom floor of library in the learning center
  • In order to address social problems, with or without tech, it is important to determine root causes.  However, this is notoriously difficult to do, even for very analytical people, when faced with complex, multivariate social problems that occur at multiple levels of social abstraction.  In this meeting let's start to discuss analytical methods for determining root causes in complex problems.  

    This is not academic exercise but grounded in pragmatics: we will be more effective if we don't waste time addressing factors that are only weakly causal or merely correlated with social injustices.  It is unlikely this one conversation will result in concrete solutions but will hopefully provide a scaffolding for more thoughtful planning when we choose projects to take on.

    I will send out some papers to people who RSVP a week in advance and please send suggestions for speakers or literature if you know of any.

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  • Bea

    Here is a good blog write up on this topic from someone from my alma mater. I think he presents the challenging aspects of interpreting stats in an intuitive manner.

    http://www.michaelnielsen.org/ddi/if-correlation-doesnt-imply-causation-then-what-does/

    November 27

    • Bea

      Above are a couple of interesting blog posts from a stats professor analyzing some work attempting to determine the effects of universal child care in two very different areas. They give a good taste for how a statistician interprets published results on causality. Gelman studied with Donald Rubin, who, along with Judea Pearl, is one of the main contributors to formalizing causal inference in statistics.

      3 days ago

  • Dana F.

    Saturdays are difficult for me. Interested in reading what happens on your Pages tab. Thanks.

    November 30

    • Bea

      Hi Dana,

      3 days ago

    • Bea

      I will update the pages tab and try to mix up the meeting days a bit. Would Sundays work for you?

      3 days ago

  • Bea

    PS The location may change as I investigate options in Cambridge. Stay tuned!

    November 27

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