Big Data Wins the War on Christmas

The holiday seasons of 2012 and 2013 in the education world have been dominated by the release of new international test-score data, and the accompanying hand-wringing about the performance of the U.S., with advocates of every stripe finding a high-performing country with existing policies that match what they always thought the U.S. ought to do. Here at the Chalkboard we often take on the dangers of analyses that draw causal conclusions from correlational data, particularly when the analyst is free to keep mining the data until the desired pattern is revealed. There are certainly many real examples that illustrate this important point, but today I’d like to illustrate it with a frivolous example about the Yuletide, based on real data and analyses.

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