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Spurious Correlations Engine Generates Graphs for Bizarre Coincidences

Correlation is not causation, unless by "causation," you mean "fun."

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If you like weird facts, time wasters and thinking critically, then get thee over to Spurious Correlations. Just because drownings from 1999-2009 correlate at a rate of  0.666004 with the number of films Nicolas Cage appeared in during those years doesn’t mean the two are actually linked, but have fun trying to find a connection.

The search engine was created by Harvard Law School student Tyler Vigen and is dedicated to charting the correlation rates between data. The site inspires visitors to use logical fallacies for fun while simultaneously debunking the absurdity of inferring causality from statistics.

For example, the below graph appears to be damning for scientific endeavors, but the nature of the variables compiled by Spurious Correlations reveals just how ludicrous that kind of rhetoric can be.

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You can look up new correlations by choosing an “interesting variable” (most of which are related to embarrassing ways of dying/weather statistics). I now know that the total revenue generated by arcades from 2000-2009 correlates at an astounding 99% with the number of lawyers in Wyoming, and I’ll spin that fact any way I want to.

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Thank God correlation does not equal causation. Otherwise judging from this graph, we would all need to eat less cheese. Or sleep in hammocks. As The Verge points out, part of the joy of spending endless hours on the engine comes from the human brain’s desire to organize and expound. I know that eating muenster doesn’t mean I’m more likely to die in my sleep, but what if it did? And what kind of world would that be?
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That is not a world I want to live in.

(via Boing Boing ,The Verge, and LA Times, image via Spurious Correlations)

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