One of the most common tropes about research is that “correlation isn’t causation.” This is generally used in opposition to the research at hand. Don’t like the findings? You can say that correlation isn’t causation and dismiss it. Academics also like to use this phrase defensively about their research. Suppose they do a correlational study and find something they don’t like (say, that X policy they support is related to more crime). In that case, they can say it’s only a correlational study, so policy changes should wait until further research. This is also, I believe, a defense mechanism among academics against having to take responsibility for their study’s findings. If they write a correlational paper and someone makes a policy from its conclusions, then the policymaker goes beyond the study’s findings. The author bears no responsibility for that outcome. This is a very foolish point of view.