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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tyler Vigen's "Spurious Correlations" Blog is the Most Fun You'll Ever Have with Graphs

From Bustle

By Chris Tognotti

May 14, 2014

If you read up on interesting new studies and research, there are four very important words you’ve likely heard before — correlation is not causation.

Just because two sets of data might correlate with one another doesn’t mean there’s any cause-and-effect relationship between the two, wonderfully demonstrated by Harvard Law Student Tyler Vigen’s awesome blog, Spurious Correlations.

The concept is pretty simple — find two things that correlate with one another, and present it as though it means something. The blog lists a bunch of extremely funny examples, for example: Did you know the number of people who drown by falling into swimming pools correlates with number of films Nicolas Cage has appeared in? Or that the rate of divorce in Maine correlates with national per capita margarine consumption? We certainly didn’t!

It all serves as both a welcome dose of comedy, and a firm warning to all those prone to jumping to conclusions. Even better, it lets you “discover a new correlation” by selecting from a menu of different, curious variables to see what comes up...

Read the entire article HERE

Some Samples

correlates with

Divorce rate in Maine
Divorces per 1000 people (US Census)
Per capita consumption of margarine (US)
Pounds (USDA)
Correlation: 0.992558

correlates with

Number of people who died by becoming tangled in their bedsheets
Deaths (US) (CDC)
Total revenue generated by skiing facilities (US)
Dollars in millions (US Census)
Correlation: 0.969724

Have fun!

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