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Ironic article about math

Link: Confident students do worse in math; bad news for U.S.

It’s always sad when journalists confuse correlation with causation, but even worse when they’re writing a story about math and they get it wrong!

The article states that confidence about math and the actual ability to do math seem to be inversely correlated. Then it enters a conversation about how making kids enjoy math and acts like confidence has anything to do with the resulting mathematical (in)ability.

As anyone with a basic understanding of logic would understand, a correlation between the two doesn’t mean that tweaking one will affect the other at all. It may be some third variable (oh, let’s say, constant scholastic competiton) that is causing the two. If the competition is high, then that could lead to both high performance and low self-assessment. The next step in this study would be the measure some of the variables and then try to assess causation.

This reminds of a common observation that attractive people are often insecure about their looks. It is because they are insecure that they primp so much :)

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