The Haven
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The Haven

Don’t Be Fooled By Every Correlation You See

A correlation is basically a measure of the strength of a linear relationship between two random, quantitative variables e.g. temperature vs. altitude. They are ubiquitous in reports, presentations and articles in the form of evidence to explain how one variable causes the other to change (causation).

For example, a scientific journal with an article on climate change might use a scatter plot to illustrate a correlation between CO2 emissions rising and the temperature of the Earth rising. Whether CO2 emission truly cause the temperature of the Earth to rise is a separate statement that is very much up for debate and not definite (but is probably quite likely!).

Therefore, it is possible to find certain silly correlations and state that one variable does indeed have an effect on the other which is exactly what Tyler Vigen did. He created a website full of surprising correlations and I went through assuming they implied causation and tried to figure out the reason for why this may be. These were my five favourite ones!

Margarine consumption went down over the years meaning couples could no longer talk about how good the margarine spread tastes at the dinner table. This resulted in couples running out of things to talk about and got bored of each other quite quickly…

It is a long known fact that civil engineering professors love to be bribed with mozzarella. Over the last few years, many PhD students have given their supervisors hamper baskets filled with mozzarella in the hope that their supervisors will take it easy on them during the viva.

This one’s easy. Almost all of the US crude oil imports from Norway come on express trains that don’t need to stop at any railroad crossings. Unfortunately, some drivers did not time the jump across the railway tracks…

I believe the Brown Recluse clan are quite the competitive spellers and love watching the Spelling Bee finals through people’s windows. Unfortunately, the winning word was too difficult in certain years so in order to vent their anger…



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Akhil Sonthi

Tech Enthusiast | Entrepreneur | Music Artist | MEng @ Cambridge