Thursday, July 9, 2009

SEMNET Message from Judea Pearl

The following is a message from Judea Pearl to the SEMNET (Structural Equation Modeling) discussion list (conveyed by Dr. Pearl's colleague Stephen Sivo). Given Dr. Pearl's apparent intent to have these announcements publicized to a wide audience, I (Alan) have reprinted it below (lightly edited for apparent typos and ease of accessing links)...

Dear Colleagues in Causality,

Below, a few items that I thought would be of interest to researchers active in causal reasoning.

1. A new article, authored by Ilya Shpitser and myself is now posted on the UCLA Causality-Blog (see also here). It offers a solution to the problem of evaluating "Effects of Treatment on the Treated (ETT)." The problem is of theoretical interest because ETT, despite its blatant counterfactual character (e.g., "I just took an aspirin, perhaps I shouldn't have?"), can be evaluated from experimental studies in many, though not all, cases. Characterizing those cases illuminates therefore the empirical content of counterfactuals.

2. Many of you have commented on my article "Myth, Confusion and Science in Causal Analysis" (inspired by Don Rubin), a revised version of which is now posted on our website here . I would like to encourage a blog-discussion on the main points raised there. For example:

2.1. Whether graphical methods are in some way "less principled" than other methods of analysis.
2.2. Whether confounding bias can only decrease by conditioning on a new covariate.
2.3 Whether the M-bias, when it occurs, is merely a mathematical curiosity, unworthy of researchers' attention.
2.4. Whether Bayesianism instructs us to condition on all available measurements.

If you feel strongly about defending any of these claims (which seem to be
still simmering in certain circles, see video), the Causality-Blog can be an effective arena for airing them in an open discussion. Requests for anonymity will be honored.

3. Forbes magazine ran an issue on artificial intelligence last week, to which I contributed a popular article on progress in causal analysis (from my humble perspective, of course). Comments are welcome.

4. I have volunteered to give a tutorial at the JSM meeting (Washington, DC, August 5, 2009, 2-4 pm) on "Causal Analysis in Statistics: A Gentle Introduction." If any of your colleagues or students could benefit from such tutorial, I promise to be truly gentle.

5. Just before the tutorial, at 12 noon, there will be a book-signing gathering at the Cambridge University Press booth, where I will be signing copies of the 2nd Edition of Causality (and will engage in gossip and debates about where causality is heading).

Best wishes, and May clarity shine over causality land,
Judea Pearl

Note that all of Dr. Pearl's requests for blog discussion pertain to his blog at UCLA. I have thus turned off the comments option here.