Welcome to MetaCausal

Noah Haber
MetaCausal is dedicated to the relationships between science, statistics, and people. We feature research, discussion, news, and everything in between, starting with our own published work. We plan on growing from a small scale blog to something quite a bit bigger, and we’re excited to be scaling up very soon.

This is also the home of our kickoff project: the CLAIMS study. The CLAIMS study looks at the strength of causal inference in studies and articles shared in social media. Your news feed is probably filled with articles saying things like “study finds chocolate linked to cancer.” We wanted to know if those studies shared on social media actually find that changing chocolate consumption actually caused/prevented cancer,  or were their methods not able to distinguish correlation from causation.

The CLAIMS team identified the most popular media articles about academic studies assessing the association between any exposure and health outcome, and systematically reviewed them and the media articles about them for causal strength and language. We found that the studies most likely to be seen by social media consumers in 2015 were very unlikely to show causation, and were slightly overstated. The media articles most likely to be read about them were very likely to be overstated and inaccurately described. This study is accepted for publication in PLoS One, pending final publication.

This site hosts the full dataset, code, and methods for full transparency. This site is in a holding pattern while we wait for official publication of the CLAIMS study. Once that happens, we’re going to be spending a lot of time thinking and discussing the state of science on this site, based in part from the findings of the CLAIMS study.

We’ll post public explainers about science and stats. We’ll do some oddball public experiments. We’ll post our own public versions of the studies we’ve been making. We’ll have opinions and analysis on a whole range of topics from technical science to social media, reports on our own studies, and everything in between.

Thoughts and comments welcome