We all know that marriage rates are dropping, even here in New Hampshire. But do we know why?
Science says . . . it’s because of margarine. The less we eat, the less we stick together. Don’t argue with me! It’s science, with a chart and everything!
If that’s not enough sciencing for you for one day, feast your peepers on this science, which shows a clear correlation between the consumption of high fructose corn syrup and the amount of crude oil the US imports from Norway:
This one is particularly shocking: the less Norwegian crude oil we imported, the less high fructose corn syrup we imbibed. In the face of science like this, can we go on doubting that high fructose corn syrup is, in fact, Norwegian crude? The numbers don’t lie, man. The correlation is there.
These charts, and many others that you can generate yourself at Spurious Correlations, all of which are made up of at least 100% pure science, are excellent reminds of something we all used to know. All together now . . .
CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION.
Just because two things happen at the same time or at the same rate doesn’t mean that one causes the other, or that one has anything whatsoever to do with the other. Sometimes two things happen at the same time, and it doesn’t mean anything at all. A very handy truth to keep in your back pocket next time someone shows you a chart proving that, for instance, the popularity of dubstep is caused by DTaP, or austism was caused by Vatican II, because look at those numbers.
Here’s a great book I need to re-read: How to Lie With Statistics, by Darrell Huff.
Americans are so willing to believe anything is true as long as it has a number, a chart, or a graph attached to it. It’s kind of endearing, but kind of not. This copiously illustrated, lively book picks apart the malicious and ignorant ways that statistics can mislead us into believing all kinds of ridiculous nonsense. Should be required reading for high school students.
And now on to some field research, in which I suss out whether or not staying up late to drink wine and eat half a pound of sesame sticks has anything — anything at all — to do with how crappy I’m going to feel in the morning.