Some Reflections on Drawing Causal Inference using Textual Data: Parallels Between Human Subjects and Organized Texts


We examine the role of textual data as study units when conducting causal inference by drawing parallels between human subjects and organized texts. We elaborate on key causal concepts and principles, and expose some ambiguity and sometimes fallacies. To facilitate better framing a causal query, we discuss two strategies: (i) shifting from immutable traits to perceptions of them, and (ii) shifting from some abstract concept/property to its constituent parts, i.e., a constructivist perspective of an abstract concept. We hope this article would raise the awareness of the importance of articulating and clarifying fundamental concepts before delving into developing methodologies when drawing causal inference using textual data.

First Conference on Causal Learning and Reasoning (CLeaR)
Bo Zhang
Bo Zhang
Assistant Professor of Biostatistics

My research interests include design of observational studies, instrumental variables, application of causal inference in medicine and applied statistics in general.