The proliferation of data sources and the advent of computationally intensive analytic algorithms have multiplied the possibilities for non-experimental (i.e., observational) research. Much of that research highlights prediction, yet remains agnostic about cause, a successful strategy as long as the causal structures undergirding the phenomena remain stable. This raises concerns, as practical action or public policy without an understanding of cause is blind, and methodological discussions rarely reach empirical researchers, in part because those discussions are often too formal and thus too insular.
Led by Samuel Lucas, Professor of Sociology at UC Berkeley, this Matrix team’s work will explore the emerging issues and questions about causality in the digital age; the group’s work will focus on interviewing key scholars of causality from statistics, philosophy, and a variety of social sciences The project will allow each to convey to empirical researchers key insights on causality in an accessible, conversational way. The interviews will be integrated into thematic sets, and will ultimately be compiled into an accessible volume.