New site hopes Nicolas Cage and Miss America can fix bad data
Student's site looks to demonstrate problems of relying on misleading information
Monday 26 May 2014
What do the films of Nicolas Cage have to do with female editors on the Harvard Law Review? Nothing, probably, though there’s plenty of data that argues it does — the rate of both was climbing until 2007, fell in 2008, but has since been picking back up.
It’s those kinds of false relationships that Tyler Vigen hopes to expose on Spurious Correlations, a website collecting some of the most compelling and confusing correlations he can find. But the site isn’t meant to criticise correlative studies, says Vigen, who is a criminology student at Harvard Law School.
“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,” Vigen says on the site. “Rather, I hope this project fosters interest in statistics and numerical research.”
The site uses Vigen’s code to automatically generate correlations from a wealth of data, including from the US Census and the Centers for Disease Control. That means that a worrying amount of the data is about death. The site maps the correlation between the ages of Miss America winners and murders by steam, hot vapours and hot objects, for example, and the number of people electrocuted by powerlines and the marriage rate in Alabama.
Other, less morbid, graphs include the startlingly close relationship between margarine and divorces. Vigen says he hopes to broaden the data in future — moving away from death rates, and using data from international statistics.
Many of the correlations are not statistically significant — and Vigen says he has been contacted by statisticians and research professors making that point. But by cleverly mapping them, by shrinking axes or leaving out unhelpful years, Vigen is able to give the impression that they are. Vigen hopes that the deceptive graphs lead people to think critically about the data he presents — so that female applicants to the Harvard Law Review need not panic about Nicolas Cage’s stalling film career.
Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again
Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood
The Sistine Chapel is set to be illuminated with thousands of LEDs
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 35,000 walrus gather on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
Brad Pitt, on the moment he completely lost his temper with Clint Eastwood's son
Jennifer Lawrence nude photos leak: More celebrities allegedly targeted as third wave of hacked images released
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Former Tory donor Arron Banks ups his Ukip donation to £1million following William Hague 'nobody' comment
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- < Previous
- Next >
£45000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...
£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: My client are looking fo...
£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Domino ...
£26000 - £27000 per annum: Randstad Education Group: Experienced Science Techn...