Correlation and Cause - Feeding and Breeding

January 25, 2010
Posted by Jay Livingston

Andre Bauer’s idea that poor people are like stray animals is what will get most of the attention, as I suppose it should. Bauer* is running for governor of the enlightened state of South Carolina, where Appalachian Trail hiker Mark Sanford is still in that office.** Bauer is Lt. Gov., and here’s what he said à propos programs for free and reduced-price lunches in the public schools.
My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better,
Bauer stands by his analogy and says he was quoted out of context. Right.

Obviously, Bauer did not take Sociology of Poverty. Of less importance politically is that he also skipped the methods course. Apparently, he has some data – a bar graph – but he mistakes correlation for cause.
I can show you a bar graph where free and reduced lunch has the worst test scores in the state of South Carolina. You show me the school that has the highest free and reduced lunch, and I'll show you the worst test scores, folks. It's there, period.
I suppose that it is somehow possible that providing food for impoverished kids makes them dumb. Maybe electing people to office in the Palmetto State has a similar effect.

*Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer is not to be confused with Andre Braugher, the excellent actor who plated Detective Pembleton on “Homicide” (the forerunner to “The Wire”) and is currently in “Men of a Certain Age.” Pictures below. You figure out which Andre is which.

** What’s up with The Palmetto State and its public servants? Lt. Gov. Bauer is incautious not just in his campaign speeches. He also tends to get stopped for speeding, and he once crash-landed a small plane. (CSM article here.) Then, besides Sanford and Bauer, there’s the former chair of the SC Board of Education, who home schooled her kids, believes that “intelligent design” and “abstinence only” should be taught in the schools, and resigned only when it was revealed that she also publishes online porn (oops, I mean erotic fiction.) The story and links to her very NSFW prose are here. I guess she just wanted to put the palm back in palmetto.

1 comment:

Joshua said...

I, for one, could give a shit if someone home-schools and writes erotic fiction. These are completely wholesome activities.

Believing in Intelligent Design, on the other hand...