Correlation OFTEN impies causation, Iain Duncan Smith – you just haven’t done your homework| Welfare Weekly

This Blog appears to have struck a nerve with its response to Iain Duncan Smith’s ridiculous self-justifying letter to the Commons work and pensions committee and its chairman, Frank Field.

It seems many other members of the social media that have been maligned by the man we call RTU (Return To Unit), in honour of his failed military career, want to show how stupid his claims really are.

Here, Welfare Weekly attacks the claim that “no causal link” is shown between the work capability assessment and suicide.

The correlation between the work capability assessment and suicide was established by academic researchers, not by journalists or social media commentators.

Iain Duncan Smith will probably be accusing the United Nations (UN) of failing to see the government’s “good intent”, when its inquiry into “grave and systematic violations” of the rights of disabled people in the UK concludes.

Despite the fact that we are the first country to face such an inquiry, and given that the UN investigate only when there is evidence of grave and systematic violations of human rights, the prime minister has already dismissed the significance of the inquiry, ludicrously claiming “it may not be all it’s cracked up to be.”

It’s particularly noteworthy that when it comes to government claims, the same methodological rigour that they advocate for others isn’t applied. Indeed, many policies have clearly been directed by ideology and traditional Tory prejudices, rather than valid research and empirical evidence.

The Government often claim that any research revealing negative social consequences arising from their draconian policies, which they don’t like to be made public, “doesn’t establish a causal link.”

Recently there has been a persistent, aggressive and flat denial that there is any “causal link” between the increased use of food banks and welfare cuts, benefit sanctions and extreme hardship, and the Work Capability Assessment and an increase in numbers of premature deaths and suicides, to name but a few.

The government are referring to a scientific maxim: “Correlation doesn’t imply causality.” The tobacco industry made exactly the same claim about the established link between lung cancer and smoking.

It is completely inaccurate to say that correlation doesn’t imply causation – it quite often does. Determining whether there is an actual cause and effect relationship requires further investigation. This is something the government has persistently refused to do.

Source: Iain Duncan Smith Blasts Media Who Accuse The Tories Of ‘Outrageous Actions’ | Welfare Weekly

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5 thoughts on “Correlation OFTEN impies causation, Iain Duncan Smith – you just haven’t done your homework| Welfare Weekly

  1. Jarrow

    Obviously general statistics and statistical inference weren’t on the syllabus of the degree Iain Duncan Smith read for at the ancient university a Perugia in Italy…


    Hang on a minute….

  2. Jon Lisle-Summers

    I read IDS’s letter, at least the typed part. I couldn’t decipher much of the handwritten part: what does it say?
    So, we have a paragraph which says they don’t collect stats on claimants’ deaths or reasons given by claimants (or family and friends?) because it’s too difficult to do.
    Then we have a paragraph which says there’s no evidence of a link between suicide and DWP assessments. So, therefore, there is no link. Wow. Chop that logic.
    Well, IDiot-Smith, that’s because you don’t collect the data.
    Which is like saying there is no bombing in Syria because you don’t have any data showing bombs have been dropped.
    Later, he blithely asserts that work makes people healthy. I believe I’ve seen something similar elsewhere: Arbeit Macht Frei which was true in the sense that gassing people to death does amount to freeing them in a twisted way. Also, work can make people ill with stress, low wages and poor conditions.
    He claims that there is a growing body of evidence that work cures the sick and unemployed. He doesn’t cite any statistics supporting his assertion, possibly because there’s no data, because they don’t collect any, because it’s too difficult. Or, there is data? Or did IDS just fabricate that?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      For those who haven’t read my article deciphering the handwritten part of the letter, it’s here.
      I’m happy to see your conclusions are the same as mine. With regard to “Arbeit Macht Frei”, Duncan Smith has indeed visited Auschwitz. He was using the English translation of the slogan very shortly afterwards.
      With regard to your last question, bear in mind that the current Conservative Government is very keen on un-evidenced policy-making.

  3. Kitty S Jones

    Actually, thinking about it, I’ve been arguing the same point since 2012/13 when the first lot of mortality stats were released. Correlation often implies causation and therefore further investigation is warranted .

Comments are closed.