Causal Analysis in Theory and Practice

December 4, 2012

Neyman-Rubin’s model and ASA Causality Prize

We received the following query from Megan Murphy (ASA):
Dr. Pearl,
I received the following question regarding the Causality in Statistics Education prize on twitter. I’m not sure how to answer this, perhaps you can help?

Would entries using Neyman-Rubin model even be considered? RT @AmstatNews: Causality in Statistics Education #prize…

Judea Answers:
“Of course! The criteria for evaluation specifically state: ‘in some mathematical language (e.g., counterfactuals, equations, or graphs)’ giving no preference to any of the three notational systems. The criteria stress capabilities to perform specific inference tasks, regardless of the tools used in performing the tasks.

For completeness, I re-list below the evaluation criteria:

• The extent to which the material submitted equips students with skills needed for effective causal reasoning. These include:

—1a. Ability to correctly classify problems, assumptions, and claims into two distinct categories: causal vs. associational

—1b. Ability to take a given causal problem and articulate in some mathematical language (e.g., counterfactuals, equations, or graphs) both the target quantity to be estimated and the assumptions one is prepared to make (and defend) to facilitate a solution

—1c. Ability to determine, in simple cases, whether control for covariates is needed for estimating the target quantity, what covariates need be controlled, what the resulting estimand is, and how it can be estimated using the observed data

—1d. Ability to take a simple scenario (or model), determine whether it has statistically testable implications, and apply data to test the assumed scenario

• The extent to which the submitted material assists statistics instructors in gaining an understanding of the basics of causal inference (as outlined in 1a-d) and prepares them to teach these basics in undergraduate and lower-division graduate classes in statistics.

Those versed in the Neyman-Rubin model are most welcome to submit nominations.

Note, however, that nominations will be evaluated on ALL four skills, 1a – 1d.

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