In many papers one can read that telomeres may play an important role in longevity. According to Calado et al.1 the telomeres of mice are much longer than the telomeres of humans. However, mice have an average life expectancy of about 2 years and humans about 80 years.

Does the metabolic rate therefore determine how fast the telomeres shorten? Can one say that the higher the metabolic rate, the faster the telomere shorten?

  1. Telomere dynamics in mice and humans
  • $\begingroup$ Note, correlation does not imply causation. In other words even if these two values are correlated, that doesn't mean that one determines the other. $\endgroup$
    – p.s.w.g
    Jan 24, 2015 at 16:19
  • $\begingroup$ The paper is freely available through Pubmed Central, I added the link for you. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Jan 24, 2015 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ @p.s.w.g I'd rather use a phrase suggested by Tufte: Empirically observed covariation is a necessary but not sufficient condition for causality. The usage of implies in this common phrase is a little dangerous, because in one way, correlation does indeed "imply" causation. $\endgroup$
    – Alex
    Jan 24, 2015 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Alex You're right, of course. Correlation does not necessarily imply causation. I was really trying to point out to OP that the title and the body of the question do not ask the same thing. $\endgroup$
    – p.s.w.g
    Jan 24, 2015 at 18:00
  • $\begingroup$ @p.s.w.g I agree with you, question does indeed to make this distinction. I just try to comment on the usage of this phrase where ever I see it because the word implies have different meanings in its logical and its common usage, and I've seen some signs if confusions in the other direction. Maybe his other suggested phrase is even better: "Correlation is not causation but it sure is a hint.", depending on the situation of course. $\endgroup$
    – Alex
    Jan 24, 2015 at 18:07


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