Cause and Effect

I have been greatly interested recently by pronouncements by certain individuals in the press attributing our recent weather disasters to homosexuality, gay marriage, Mitt Romney, Obama, and/or loose morals in New Orleans.  The capacity of the human mind to find causal relationships between totally unrelated things or concepts is fascinating.

According to Wikipedia  “In statistics, a spurious correlation[1][2] is a mathematical relationship in which two or more events or variables are not causally related to each other, yet it may be wrongly inferred that they are, due to either coincidence or the presence of a certain third, unseen factor (referred to as a “common response variable”, “confounding factor”, or “lurking variable“).”

There is a web site devoted to such correlations (www.tylervigen.com) where you can choose the variables to see how they may be statistically related.  I always knew that there was a strong, positive correlation between the price of Jamaican rum and the average salary of Methodist ministers. Did you know, however, that there is a strong positive correlation between:

The divorce rate in Maine and per capita consumption of margarine

The age of Miss America and number of murders by steam, hot vapours, and hot objects.

Per capita cheese consumption and the number of people who died by being tangled in their bed sheets.

Total revenue generated by arcades and the number of computer science doctorates awarded in the US.

What alarms me is that some people will believe anything and will try to find relationships between things that can’t possibly be related, just to support their beliefs or prejudices.  I, personally, try to remain rational and sceptical. I think I will go now and eat some bread crusts. I am trying to make my hair curly.

Come up with your own spurious correlations.

38 thoughts on “Cause and Effect”

    1. I don’t know what current fashion would indicate if this were true. Daily I see miniskirts, ankle length dresses, and everything in between. Not to mention jeans, dress pants, leggings, jeggings, shorts, and capris.

      Like

  1. i smile at the chicken and the eggs correlations. hem lengths change with the economic status so if they get shorter the outlook is optimistic

    the current trend to measure news worthiness by the tweet of the apricot tweeter is discouraging. if you want to create news give the job of creating it to a madman. it makes for interesting twists in reality

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The number of Red Admirals on our hyssop bush correlates negatvely with the price of Miso in Tokyo. There were 20 on the hyssop just now, so Miso must be a bargain today.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. I think I saw some at wood lake nature center the other day. Mostly they were on the path, but they were probably on some flowers, too, just not when I was looking at them.

          Like

  3. My grasp of detail is fuzzy, but my nephew (CB’s older son) and family just moved into a home built for them close to the water in Naples. Naples is directly in the path of Irma now. The family fled to a safe area. The home was not able to flee.

    Like

    1. A good friend of mine has a condo in Naples, but she lives summers in Edina. She reports that although Naples has the image of being a wealthy city, there are many trailer parks and enclaves of small, shed-like homes, many of which are lived in my migrants. The storm will almost certainly wreak great havoc in those areas. She’s relatively comfortable that her condo will be safe.

      OT – Wondering if anyone went to the Rock Bend Folk Festival today, or will be going tomorrow?

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s