Tyler Vigen, a Harvard Law student, has created a website that appears to demonstrate the truism: “53% of all statistics are made up.” That’s not precisely true of the “research” Vigen presents at Spurious Correlations (his correlations rely on actual data sets) but it does give some insight into the tools the data crunchers have at their disposal for spinning actual facts into what they want us to hear (often to the exclusion of more relevant information). Vigen says, “Empirical research is interesting, and I love to wonder about how variables work together. The charts on this site aren’t meant to imply causation nor are they meant to create a distrust for research or even correlative data. Rather, I hope this projects gets people interested in statistics and research.”
Here are some of Vigen’s best Spurious Correlations:
1. Number of people who tripped over their own two feet and died correlates with Civil engineering doctorates awarded (US)
The more pressing question: Are the civil engineers tripping over their own feet or are they designing things that cause others to trip?
2. Money spent on pets (US) correlates with Suicides by hanging, strangulation and suffocation
But really, who didn’t see that one coming?
3. Marriage rate in Mississippi correlates with Per capita consumption of whole milk (US)
Save the institution of marriage! Ban whole milk!
4. Per capita consumption of whole milk (US) correlates with Murders by blunt object
More proof that whole milk is a menace!
5. Marriage rate in Ohio correlates with Per capita consumption of margarine (US)
Or perhaps all dairy products are a problem. Time to go lactose free?
6. Biology/biomedical doctorates awarded (US) correlates with Accidental poisonings by alcohol
What amazing future biomedical advances will these kids bestow upon the world?
7. Males in Washington who slipped or tripped to their death correlates with Sunlight in Washington
Maybe someone needs to fire up the government weather machine to prevent these senseless deaths in D.C.
8. US spending on science, space, and technology correlates with People who died by falling down the stairs
STEM is out of control.
9. Per capita consumption of beef (US) correlates with New passenger car sales (US)
Something to keep in mind next time we need an auto bailout?
10. People who died by falling down the stairs correlates with Worldwide dividends paid by petroleum corporations
Big oil strikes again!
11. Total number of Political Action Committees (US) correlates with People who died by falling out of their wheelchair
Obviously, blame the Koch brothers.