Did you know that there’s a link between the number of pool drownings and how many films Nicolas Cage does a year? Or the fact that the number of people who died by bed sheet entanglement and the per capita consumption of cheese are in lock-step? Sure, we know that correlation doesn’t equal causation, but we’re also suckers for any “factual” relationship that appears in the form of a graph or chart. An Army intelligence analyst and Harvard Law Student named Tyler Vigen has created Spurious Correlations, a tongue-in-cheek website that highlights this gullibility. The connections are pretty silly–and there’s a new one every day. And they’d be even funnier if this sort of specious brand of connections didn’t make it into our public policy debate so often.
So while you chuckle at the site’s latest–the inverse relationship between the number of women who died by tripping in New York City and the number of visual artworks copyrighted in the US.–remember the silliness next time you see a suspicious massaging of data points. In the meantime, where is the obvious connection between Nick Cage films and cheese?