Humor and Gallbladder stones? Is this study real?

Correlation does NOT equal causation. McMillan warns us that causation should rarely be inferred from correlation, and in the cartoon above, we can see why. Obviously, just because someone moves to Colorado, it does not mean they will magically be thinner. Live in Virginia and eat cheeseburgers, live in Colorado and eat cheeseburgers, your weight outcome will more than likely be the same.

McMillan informs us that comparative studies examine whether the dependent variable(s) in one group is the same or different from the value of the dependent variable(s) of other groups. So, from the cartoon above, why is it that Colorado has the lowest obesity levels? McMillan tells us that the best we can do is conclude that a relationship exists, but it is not a causal relationship. The fact that Colorado has lower obesity levels could be due to the fact that there are tons of mountains there so people get more exercise than in the flat grounds of Virginia.

Higher sense of humor scores = less pain with gallbladder stones? (Yes this is a real study.) Svebak, Sondenaa, Hausken, Soreide, Hammar, & Berstad (2000) examined the relation between pain associated with gallbladder stones in 27 male and female outpatients. A significant negative correlation was found between the pain ratings and the Liking of Humor scale. The direction of the possible causation is not clear. In regards to this study, that could mean that previous experiences with pain could cause the participants to rate their gallbladder stone pain low. If they had a previous injury that caused them more pain than the gallbladder stones, then they are more likely to rate the pain lower than someone who has never had to deal with much pain before. Other variables associated with pain and humor that are not included in this study may affect the relationship and could be more related than humor and pain levels. The severity of their stones could be a variable, but was not mentioned in the relationship between humor and pain level. Or, maybe the patients were on different medication or had different reactions to the medication they were on. All of these variables, and I am sure more, could be reasons why it seems that humor and pain levels are negatively correlated.

Speaking of humor levels.. I wonder if the kid in the cartoon below will get a lower punishment due to his high humor level?

Where was this cartoon to help with explanations when I was a kid?! You see mom, just because my Wii controller is now lodged in the television does not mean you can infer that I am the culprit! Correlation does not equal causation mother!


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