Correlation street

All too often we see a story in the newspaper where numbers are painfully parroted without giving any consideration to what they actually mean - and all too often that means we need recite our favourite mantra, 'correlation is not causality'.

Today's paper carried a wonderful example of this, citing 'research' by Lloyds Bank showing that living in the vicinity of a supermarket will have a varying impact on the price of your house 'depending on the status of the shop.'

As we all know, it shows nothing of the kind. There may be a correlation between being near the shop and house prices - but it's highly unlikely it's causal. The reason we can be reasonably sure of this is that occupant of the number 4 position, Iceland. Anyone who knows their 'status of the shop' rankings knows that Iceland is the pits - certainly below Asda. I don't doubt the pulling power of Waitrose, but the fact is I'd suggest there are other causal factors at play…

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