Correlated: Surprising Connections Between Seemingly Unrelated Things

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9780399162473: Correlated: Surprising Connections Between Seemingly Unrelated Things

Mind-blowing statistics and crazy connections—from the number-crunching genius behind a popular blog. Based on findings on Correlated.org, this surprising and very funny book presents bizarre-but-true correlations between seemingly unrelated things.

Based on daily polls and statistical analysis, in CORRELATED, Gallagher reveals:

· People who prefer Miss Piggy to Kermit the Frog are more than twice as likely than average to have tattoos
· People with body piercings are twice as likely as the average person to have deployed a fire extinguisher
· People with bumper stickers on their car are more likely than average to have square danced

You’ll never look at poll results or scientific sound bites the same way again!

"Sinopsis" puede pertenecer a otra edición de este libro.

About the Author:

Shaun Gallagher is a writer and a former magazine and newspaper editor who runs the popular website Correlated.org that explores the surprising world of statistics. He is also the author of Experimenting with Babies. He lives with his wife and two sons in Wilmington, Delaware.
 

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

INTRODUCTION

If you’ve ever wondered whether iPod owners are more likely to stir their drinks counterclockwise, whether nonfiction lovers are more likely to have a positive opinion about France, or whether tea drinkers are more likely to prefer mechanical pencils, then this is the book for you!

The data that underpin the statistics you’ll find in this book come from Correlated.org, a website devoted to uncovering surprising correlations between seemingly unrelated things.

Each day, a new poll question is posted on the site, and at the end of the day, the poll responses are tallied up and compared with the results of every previous poll to find the two responses with the strongest correlation.

For this book, I’ve taken Correlated.org’s large data set—1,089,173 poll responses from 36,305 respondents—and generated all-new statistics in which the results of each poll were compared not only with previous polls but with the entirety of the available data. For the 182 topics chosen for inclusion in the book, the median sample size was 2,290 and the mean sample size was 2,222.

Although the statistics in this book are all based on real data, the methodology by which the correlations are generated is not intended to stand up to professional scrutiny. (In fact, it would probably make a professional statistician weep.) Rather, the correlations are intended to be amusing and thought provoking, and to illustrate some of the absurdities that result when you ignore tricky concepts such as confounding variables or the multiple-testing problem.

I hope you enjoy the surprising statistics presented here, and I hope you’ll join the thousands of others who help generate new correlations by contributing to Correlated.org.

’80s Music

40% of people have boycotted a company.

But among those who consider music from the ’80s to be oldies, 52% have boycotted a company.

----------------

53% of people are Foo Fighters fans.

But among those who consider music from the ’80s to be oldies, only 41% are Foo Fighters fans.

----------------

70% of people are adept at using chopsticks.

But among those who consider music from the ’80s to be oldies, only 58% are adept at using chopsticks.

DOUBLE PLAY

You’re extremely likely to consider music from the ’80s to be oldies if you both:

  • always wash your hands after using a public restroom
  • prefer Jake Gyllenhaal’s movies to Maggie Gyllenhaal’s
NO CORRELATION

People who consider music from the ’80s to be oldies are almost exactly as likely as the average person to:

  • have been involved in student government
  • dislike honey-mustard sauce
  • have a nine-to-five type of job

AAA (The Auto Club)

38% of people have had a poison ivy rash.

But among those who belong to AAA, 54% have had a poison ivy rash.

----------------

77% of people say that if a person dislikes them, it’s generally because they don’t know “the real me.”

But among those who belong to AAA, 89% say that if a person dislikes them, it’s generally because they don’t know “the real me.”

----------------

29% of people have visited a chiropractor.

But among those who belong to AAA, 40% have visited a chiropractor.

DOUBLE PLAY

You’re extremely likely to belong to AAA if you both:

  • prefer a hot breakfast over a cold breakfast
  • consider yourself more generous than the average person
NO CORRELATION

People who belong to AAA are almost exactly as likely as the average person to:

  • prefer Google Chrome as their browser
  • say they’d agree to work a midnight-to-8-a.m. shift for the next 10 years if the pay were $1 million a year
  • have never had asthma

Absent-Mindedness

25% of people say they are better at punctuality than punctuation.

But among those who wouldn’t describe themselves as absent-minded, 38% say they are better at punctuality than punctuation.

----------------

32% of people say they had a negative first impression of Pope Francis.

But among those who wouldn’t describe themselves as absent-minded, 44% had a negative first impression of Pope Francis.

----------------

42% of people regularly eat yogurt.

But among those who wouldn’t describe themselves as absent-minded, 52% regularly eat yogurt.

DOUBLE PLAY

You’re extremely likely to say you aren’t absent-minded if you both:

  • aren’t a coward
  • think clowns are fun
NO CORRELATION

People who wouldn’t describe themselves as absent-minded are almost exactly as likely as the average person to:

  • say the city where they live is more important than the job they do
  • keep it a secret if they found out they had only six months to live
  • have participated in an eating contest

Adam and Eve

38% of people ascend the stairs two at a time.

But among those who don’t think Adam and Eve had belly buttons, 50% ascend the stairs two at a time.

----------------

36% of people dislike sideburns.

But among those who don’t think Adam and Eve had belly buttons, 48% dislike sideburns.

----------------

49% of people prefer Steven over Stephen.

But among those who don’t think Adam and Eve had belly buttons, 60% prefer Steven over Stephen.

DOUBLE PLAY

You’re extremely likely to think that Adam and Eve didn’t have belly buttons if you both:

  • find Australians sexy
  • are not a fan of Coldplay
NO CORRELATION

People who don’t think Adam and Eve had belly buttons are almost exactly as likely as the average person to:

  • refuse to tip a server when they receive poor service
  • prefer to be the X in tic-tac-toe
  • own flat-screen TVs

Air Freshener

66% of people like cotton candy.

But among those who use air freshener in their home, 79% like cotton candy.

----------------

45% of people say they are closer to lower class than upper class.

But among those who use air freshener in their home, 58% say they are closer to lower class than upper class.

----------------

42% of people have bouts of indigestion more often than bouts of indignation.

But among those who use air freshener in their home, 52% have bouts of indigestion more often than bouts of indignation.

DOUBLE PLAY

You’re extremely likely to use air freshener in your home if you both:

  • prefer debit cards over credit cards
  • regularly wear cologne/perfume
NO CORRELATION

People who use air freshener in their home are almost exactly as likely as the average person to:

  • fear public speaking
  • apply antiperspirant at night
  • put a cap on uppercase Js

Aisle Seat vs. Window Seat

34% of people tend to micromanage when they’re in a leadership role.

But among those who prefer an aisle seat on a plane, only 20% tend to micromanage when they’re in a leadership role.

----------------

41% of people aren’t bothered by parents who kiss their adult children on the lips.

But among those who prefer an aisle seat on a plane, 54% aren’t bothered by parents who kiss their adult children on the lips.

----------------

39% of people believe the chicken came before the egg.

But among those who prefer an aisle seat on a plane, 52% believe the chicken came before the egg.

DOUBLE PLAY

You’re extremely likely to prefer an aisle seat on a plane if you both:

  • say your primary alarm clock is not your phone
  • are good at parallel parking
NO CORRELATION

People who prefer an aisle seat on a plane are almost exactly as likely as the average person to:

  • prefer to dry their hands with paper towels in public restrooms
  • say they can perform a handstand
  • cut the fabric tags off of clothing

STATISTICS 101:
MARGIN OF ERROR

Suppose you live in a bustling city with half a million residents, and you want to know what percentage of those residents prefer Beethoven to Mozart.

It would be impractical to ask all 500,000 of them, so instead, you decide to ask a representative sample.

As you might imagine, the larger your sample size, the more likely their responses will reflect the preferences of the entire population.

A poll’s margin of error tells you the range of expected variation between your poll results and the value you would get if you polled the entire population. Margin of error decreases as your sample size grows.

Here’s an example: Suppose you poll 1,000 residents and find that 48% prefer Beethoven and 52% prefer Mozart.

With about 95% confidence (see page 19), your margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points, meaning it’s highly likely that if you were to repeat your survey with another sample group, the percentage of people who say they prefer Beethoven would be between 45% and 51%, and the percentage of people who say they prefer Mozart would be between 49% and 55%.

It’s plausible, however, that if you were to poll the entire city, you might find the percentage of people who prefer Beethoven is actually at the top of the expected range, 51%, and the percentage who prefer Mozart might be at the bottom of the expected range, 49%.

Because of this possibility, when the range of values that fall within a poll’s margin of error overlap, the results of the poll are often described as a statistical tie, meaning that we cannot be sufficiently confident that one option is preferred over the other.

Aliens

60% of people have never been in a fistfight.

But among those who don’t believe aliens exist, 72% have never been in a fistfight.

----------------

49% of people swear a lot.

But among those who don’t believe aliens exist, only 37% swear a lot.

----------------

32% of people have had to make a life-or-death decision.

But among those who don’t believe aliens exist, only 21% have had to make a life-or-death decision.

DOUBLE PLAY

You’re extremely likely to think aliens don’t exist if you both:

  • oppose gay marriage
  • think prostitution should be illegal
NO CORRELATION

People who don’t believe aliens exist are almost exactly as likely as the average person to:

  • have never cried over the death of someone they’ve never met
  • prefer little dogs
  • not own any leather clothing, aside from footwear or belts

All-Nighters

45% of people use the phrase a couple to mean “a few,” rather than exactly two of something.

But among those who have never pulled an all-nighter, 67% use the phrase a couple to mean “a few,” rather than exactly two of something.

----------------

64% of people think that fooling kids into thinking that Santa is real is a harmless fib.

But among those who have never pulled an all-nighter, 82% think that fooling kids into thinking that Santa is real is a harmless fib.

----------------

20% of people prefer their application dock/dashboard to run along the side of their screen.

But among those who have never pulled an all-nighter, 37% prefer their application dock/dashboard to run along the side of their screen.

DOUBLE PLAY

You’re extremely likely to have never pulled an all-nighter if you both:

  • tilt your head to the left when you go in for a kiss
  • don’t have a long commute
NO CORRELATION

People who have never pulled an all-nighter are almost exactly as likely as the average person to:

  • be dog lovers
  • regularly clip coupons
  • be more likely to splurge on where they stay than where they eat while on vacation

Bananas

53% of people prefer lemonade to iced tea.

But among those who don’t like bananas, 71% prefer lemonade to iced tea.

----------------

74% of people like pumpkin pie.

But among those who don’t like bananas, only 57% like pumpkin pie.

----------------

24% of people say they have curly hair.

But among those who don’t like bananas, 39% have curly hair.

DOUBLE PLAY

You’re extremely likely to dislike bananas if you both:

  • think of soup as only a cold-weather food
  • don’t like guacamole
NO CORRELATION

People who don’t like bananas are almost exactly as likely as the average person to:

  • think a moat is a more important feature in a castle than secret passages
  • prefer a neat-freak roommate over a messy one
  • be good at remembering the words to songs

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