Causality and correlation. Ah, the scientist’s friend. Mixed up so many times, the cause of so many arguments, the rock on which we stub our intellectual toes.
What is this concept and why should bloggers care?
Causality is the relationship between cause and effect. That is, for a given effect, you could find the cause.
Correlation is the degree to which two events are related. That is, two things exist together but one does not necessarily cause the other.
All too often people mix up the two. They think because they were holding a rabbits foot when they won a bet, that the rabbits foot is somehow lucky. Take this tongue in cheek quote from Freakonomics also:
Chicago’s beloved Mayor Daley is trying to think of ways to increase the likelihood that the Bears win the game. He’s noticed that whenever the Bears win, people in Chicago are happy. Which sparks a great idea: decree that all Bears fans have to be happy on Super Bowl Sunday. It has always been true in the past that winning games and being happy go together, so by demanding the Bears’ fans are happy, it will cause the Bears to win the Super Bowl.
Be Careful What You Copy
Blogging is still new, so bloggers are still constantly learning what works and what doesn’t. This goes for all of us.
We look for clues around us, and especially the people who have gone before, people we admire, or people who have had obvious and visible success. Then we cherry pick ideas to see if they will work for us.
- Seth closed off comments and is successful, I will do that
- I hear many blogs are personal and written like diaries, my topic is serious, therefore I shouldn’t blog
- So-and-so is popular and snarky, so I should do that
- TechCrunch posts multiple times a day and is popular, I should do that
- Some internet marketers have not been able to sell using their blogs, therefore blogs don’t work for attracting sales
- A particular blog is ugly and super successful, my blog should be ugly too
- The blogs I have seen are rushed and poorly researched, therefore all blogs are like that
Unfortunately it is not always easy to see why or how someone achieved success or failure. Even more unfortunate, just because something works for one blog, doesn’t mean it will necessarily work for your blog and your audience.
As with most things, be very careful about dealing in absolutes. Don’t take things at face value, investigate. Most of all, see what works for YOU.