correlation

25 posts
Spotting spurious correlations in health news

When it comes to diet and health, you might see one day that a certain food decreases life expectancy. Then on another day, a different study suggests that food increases life expectancy. It’s hard to know which to believe. David Epstein provides some guidance: If you’ve watched a lot of NFL games, you’ve probably heard a commentator at some point trot out a stat like: “The Chicago Bears are undefeated...

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Airport runway orientation reveals wind patterns

Airport runways orient certain directions that correlate with wind direction in the area. It helps planes land and take off more easily. So, when you map runways around the world, you also get wind patterns, which is what Figures did: Winds circulate around the globe, forming patterns of gigantic proportions. These patterns become part of human culture and are reflected in our architecture. They are hidden designs, mapping the complexion...

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Waffle House index as a storm indicator

Waffle House activated their storm center in preparation for Hurricane Florence. Their restaurants are open 24/7, so they need to keep track of which ones need to close or limit their menus. This might also have to do with an informal Waffle House Index that FEMA described last year: If a Waffle House can serve a full menu, they’ve likely got power (or are running on a generator). A limited...

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Common statistical interpretation mistakes

Statistics is a game of subtleties, and you lose when you don’t pay attention to the details. Here are a handful of common mistakes when interpreting the numbers. In a nutshell: You get into trouble when you assume and ignore. Tags: causation, correlation, noise, pitfalls

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Game: Guess the correlation

Guess the Correlation is a straightforward game where you do just that, and it's surprisingly fun. You get a scatterplot and you guess the correlation coefficient. That's it. If you're off by too much, you lose a life, and if you're almost spot on, you gain a life. If you're somewhat right, you get a coin. Bonus points for streaks of correct guesses. Have at it. Tags: correlation, game

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Gender prediction through trivia performance

Todd Schneider likes trivia, and he plays in an online league called LearnedLeague. Curious, Schneider wondered if there was anything interesting he could glean from the performance of the LLamas (Learned League members) that might apply to knowledge in general. He looked at it from two angles. In the first, he simply calculated correlation coefficients between subjects. If you know world history, are you more likely to know geography? Yes....

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Fake correlation

Gabriel Rossman, a sociology professor at UCLA, describes colliders — or when correlation does not equal causation and the former might not even exist either. Referring to the simulated plot above, Rossman uses Hollywood actor selection as an example: For instance, suppose that in a population of aspiring Hollywood actors there is no correlation between acting ability and physical attractiveness. However assume that we generally pay a lot more attention...

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