Monday, April 14, 2014

Correlation is Not Causation

CBS reports that a man with body dysmorphic disorder grew suicidal after spending 10 hours a day taking 200 selfies a day, trying to take the “right” selfie. The man’s doctor warns that “taking too many selfies may cause mental illness.”
If you don’t like the way you look in pictures, stop taking 200 selfies a day! This is not rocket science.

But seriously, mental illness should not be taken lightly. My problem with this article is that the doctors (including the man’s parents, who are both “mental health professionals”) are blaming the mental illness on the technology. If the selfies are causing the problem, then can’t it be solved by taking away the guy’s cell phone and digital camera? Did none of the “mental health professionals” think of that? Or does anyone think that maybe the problem is a little deeper than the technology? I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the man was already mentally ill, and that is what caused him to waste 10 hours a day taking pictures of himself. Even if you like what you look like, you would have to be mentally ill in the first place to spend that much time taking selfies. This brings us to the critical thinking lesson of the day: Correlation is not causation, no matter how convenient it would be for two mental health professionals to blame a cell phone for their son’s mental problems.

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