Causal Analysis in Biomedicine and Epidemiology PDF

Causal Analysis in Biomedicine and Epidemiology PDF



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Preface

This is a book about the properties of causation. It is based on the idea that even if we do not have a perfect definition of cause, we can nonetheless describe some of its features, and that this will help us to understand its nature. One of the miracles of the human mind is that it can discuss and consider before it understands, and this seems to be where we are at the present time regarding notions of causation.
The book is also about ways in which an understanding of causation can affect how we think about biology, medicine, public health, and epidemiology. As a practicing biostatistician I am all too aware of the degree to which causation is not used in the biomedical sciences, and I am reasonably sure that we will progress more rapidly if we overcome our Humean phobia that causation may not be real.
I will admit that there is some mathematics here (mostly a new variant of algebra), but I contend that it is simple, and like most useful mathematics, gives back more in understanding than it extracts in mental sweat. There is some philosophy here, but since I am not a philosopher it is relatively straightforward and blessedly brief. There is also some biomedical science here, either by example or by indirection, because causation is at base a scientific topic. But given all this, I have tried to write this book so that it transcends disciplinary boundaries and speaks to the need we all have to make causation an integral part of our thinking about science, and a natural part of the way we talk about science.


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