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    In the same vein: The case of the 500-mile email

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      My all time favorite story, and a delightful reminder that computers are still part of the real world. ^_^

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      “Origins: This legend surfaced in print in 1978, but an anecdotal sighting places it even earlier than that, in 1971. Though its exact beginnings can’t be pinpointed, according to Brunvand:

      The June 1978 issue of Traffic Safety magazine printed the story, citing as its source the car magazine Automotive Engineering.

      It’s interesting to note how the “vapor lock” explanation reversed itself over time. Earlier versions mentioned a flavor of ice cream that required handpacking (while all the others were prepackaged and ready to go); the vapor lock was said to form because it took so much longer to get out of the store with this one flavor. In newer versions, we’re told that vanilla was a popular flavor and was kept in a special case near the door, making purchasing it and getting back out to the car take considerably less time; the car then wouldn’t start because the vapor lock did not have enough time to dissipate."

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          Correlation doesn’t imply causation, but it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing ‘look over there’.

          • Randall Munroe
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            It does weakly imply causation, though.

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                X causes Y is more likely if X correlates with Y than if X doesn’t.

                So what other word can I use to express this fact if not ‘weakly imply’?

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                  “Correlation is a necessary but not sufficient condition for causation”? Since what you’re really trying to say is that absence of correlation implies absence of causation, but not vice versa.