Mike Lorrey writes- PAY ATTENTION CLIMATE ALARMISTS:
“The phrase ‘correlation does not imply causation’ goes back to 1880 (according to Google Books). However, use of the phrase took off in the 1990s and 2000s, and is becoming a quick way to short-circuit certain kinds of arguments.
In the late 19th century, British statistician Karl Pearson introduced a powerful idea in math: that a relationship between two variables could be characterized according to its strength and expressed in numbers. An exciting concept, but it raised a new issue: how to interpret the data in a way that is helpful, rather than misleading. When we mistake correlation for causation, we find a cause that isn’t there, which is a problem. However, as science grows more powerful and government more technocratic, the stakes of correlation — of counterfeit relationships and bogus findings — grow larger.”
From Slashdot: The History of ‘Correlation Does Not Imply Causation’
From the Slate article referenced by Slashdot:
The graph below, again from Google Books, shows the shift in language that marked this change in spirit: Up until the early 1900s, causation showed up more often than correlation in the corpus; then the concepts flip. (I’ll let someone else explain why correlations have been trending downward since 1976.)