Whether we want to know the cause of a stock’s price movements (in order to trade on this information), the key phrases that can alter public opinion of a candidate (in order to optimize a politician’s speeches), or which genes work together to regulate a disease causing process (in order to intervene and disrupt it), many goals center on finding and using causes. Causes tell us not only that two phenomena are related, but how they are related. They allow us to make robust predictions about the future, explain the relationship between and occurrence of events, and develop effective policies for intervention.
While predictions are often made successfully on the basis of associations alone, these relationships can be unstable. If ...