Over-complicating causality – cartoon flashback

Cartoon-my stomach hurts, maybe it was the bad tuna I had for lunch, too bad I don't have a proper control group, now I'll never know

Since I have a lot of new followers, I thought it would be nice to put up some of my older cartoons from time to time.  This one has long been one of my favorites, and I still see it popping up in presentations from time to time.

The cartoon came from a post on causation from a couple of years ago with E. Jane Davidson providing the inspiration.

Jane’s key point: We really do seem to be massively overcomplicating this space by thinking it’s harder than it is. We make causal inferences every day in our real lives and the way we do it is often quite sound. So let’s build on that, find ways to do it more systematically, transparently, rigorously, defensibly.


  1. Sheila B Robinson on June 7, 2015 at 9:04 am

    I’ve heard Jane make this argument before and it has always resonated with me. She has also fleshed out some excellent strategies for doing exactly what she proposes. Love this cartoon, too. Well worth reposting! 🙂

  2. Bernadette Wright on June 8, 2015 at 8:40 am

    Love the cartoon! No field has ever advanced by using one method to answer every question. As in any field of science or knowledge, to get useful information to assess and improve policies and programs, we need theory supported by a broad range of data. And we need research methods cleverly constructed to fit the questions at hand.

    • Chris Lysy on June 8, 2015 at 10:07 am

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Bernadette 🙂