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Facebook Predicts Princeton’s Decline, Take That, Princeton!

I know you are but what am I, Princeton?

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In what is turning out to be a “graphic” fight, Facebook responded yesterday to a Princeton study predicting that the social media website will be dead within the next six years. Facebook’s retort has more credibility and sounder logic than what Princeton published (and also way more Likes.)

Mike Develin, a data scientist for Facebook, posted a status yesterday entitled “Debunking Princeton,” where he fought back against the assumptive logic of a study published in the Princeton journal arXiv that used mathematical formulas to predict Facebook losing all of its users by 2020 at latest.

Of particular interest was the innovative use of Google search data to predict engagement trends, instead of studying the actual engagement trends. Using the same robust methodology featured in the paper, we attempted to find out more about this “Princeton University” – and you won’t believe what we found!

By using the same “correlation equals causation” logic employed by the authors of the arXiv article, Devlin reveals that, unfortunately, “this Princeton entity” is also on its way out. In the following graph, Devlin used the number of times Princeton appeared in the news to predict a drastic slip in the school’s enrollment.


Devlin then used a mathematical formula to equate Princeton’s future based on the Google Trends index and, yeah, it’s still looking bad for the Ivy League school.



Princeton’s Facebook Likes also suffer when compared to other highly-ranked universities. Yup, it definitely seems like the over two hundred year old institution is rapidly losing influence.


To further reinforce his point that the research and logic used in arXiv leaves a lot to be desired, Devlin then determined the future for “air” using the Google Trends index, discovering that unfortunately all air will be gone by 2060.


At the end of his post, Devlin is careful to remind everyone that he doesn’t actually think Princeton is a dying institution, he was just trying to make a point.

 P.S. We don’t really think Princeton or the world’s air supply is going anywhere soon. We love Princeton (and air). As data scientists, we wanted to give a fun reminder that not all research is created equal – and some methods of analysis lead to pretty crazy conclusions.

arXiv isn’t a peer-reviewed journal, so Devlin encourages everyone who appreciates his satire to Like the post; every Like will count as a peer review. He currently has 7,714 Likes. We think we can hear some defected users sneaking back on Facebook now.

(via Wired, images via Facebook and Mike Develine)


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