Correlation, Causation, And Smoking
Initiation Among Youths

Marvin E. Goldberg
Penn State University


In critiquing my article 'American Media and the Smoking-related Behavior of Asian Adoles­cents' (Goldberg. 2003). both Taylor and Bonner (2003) and Reitter (2003) have ignored the logic associated with the research strategy of triangula­tion. Reitter suggests that my purpose in conduct­ing a correlational study was to 'supplement and give additional precision' to a study using an experimental design that can lay claim to estab­lishing 'causal connections.' Rather than address­ing the issue at hand, Reitter devotes about half of his comment to a tried and true illustration of spurious correlation. While these examples are always interesting and sometimes amusing, he really misses the point - the presence of a cumu­lative body of knowledge that allows for triangu­lation (Webb, Campbell, Schwartz, and Sechrest, 1966).