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spurious correlations

correlation is not causation

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don't miss spurious scholar,
where each of these is an academic paper

A linear line chart with years as the X-axis and two variables on the Y-axis. The first variable is Annual US household spending on alcoholic beverages and the second variable is The number of septic tank servicers and sewer pipe cleaners in New Hampshire.  The chart goes from 2003 to 2022, and the two variables track closely in value over that time. Small Image
View details about correlation #3,443


Pouring More Bucks on Booze: The Boozy Blues and Septic Tank Crews
As household spending on alcoholic beverages increased, more people experienced a pressing need for the services of septic tank servicers and sewer pipe cleaners in New Hampshire. Remember, when it rains, it pours – especially for those in the septic tank industry!




What else correlates?
Annual US household spending on alcoholic beverages · all weird & wacky
The number of septic tank servicers and sewer pipe cleaners in New Hampshire · all cccupations

A linear line chart with years as the X-axis and two variables on the Y-axis. The first variable is Popularity of the first name Lamont and the second variable is Burglary rates in the US.  The chart goes from 1985 to 2022, and the two variables track closely in value over that time. Small Image
View details about correlation #5,950


Larceny and Lamont: An Analysis of the Link between the Popularity of the First Name Lamont and Burglary Rates in the United States
Fewer people named Lamont means fewer people are saying "Lamont, it's time to steal some stuff" in a sneaky, incriminating tone. And that's a lot less motivation for burglary right there!




What else correlates?
Popularity of the first name Lamont · all first names
Burglary rates in the US · all random state specific

A linear line chart with years as the X-axis and two variables on the Y-axis. The first variable is Popularity of the 'one does not simply' meme and the second variable is Total comments on Numberphile YouTube videos.  The chart goes from 2011 to 2023, and the two variables track closely in value over that time. Small Image
View details about correlation #4,995


One Does Not Simply Quantify Internet Culture: Exploring the Correlation Between 'One Does Not Simply' Meme Popularity and Total Comments on Numberphile YouTube Videos.
As the 'one does not simply' meme gained popularity, it sparked a wave of interest in complex and seemingly insurmountable tasks. This indirectly led to an increase in people seeking out Numberphile videos, as they were drawn to the challenge of understanding and conquering the world of numbers and mathematics. In essence, the meme inadvertently became a gateway to a newfound appreciation for numerical discussions, creating a ripple effect that boosted the total comments on Numberphile YouTube videos.




What else correlates?
Popularity of the 'one does not simply' meme · all memes
Total comments on Numberphile YouTube videos · all YouTube

A linear line chart with years as the X-axis and two variables on the Y-axis. The first variable is The number of judges in Indiana and the second variable is Viewership of The Big Bang Theory.  The chart goes from 2008 to 2019, and the two variables track closely in value over that time. Small Image
View details about correlation #1,859


The Justice Judgement: A Case Study of Indiana Judges and 'The Big Bang Theory' Viewership
As the number of judges in Indiana increased, so did the viewership of "The Big Bang Theory." This is due to the little-known fact that judges have a penchant for high-brow humor and intellectual puns. With their gavel-wielding expertise, they have inadvertently ruled in favor of promoting the show, leading to a surge in viewers who just can't object to its comedic appeal. Clearly, this correlation proves that when it comes to TV preferences, the judicial system holds all the verdicts!




What else correlates?
The number of judges in Indiana · all cccupations
Viewership of "The Big Bang Theory" · all films & actors

A linear line chart with years as the X-axis and two variables on the Y-axis. The first variable is Popularity of the first name Sunny and the second variable is Solar power generated in Egypt.  The chart goes from 1983 to 2021, and the two variables track closely in value over that time. Small Image
View details about correlation #1,902


Sunny Side Up: Illuminating the Correlation Between the Name Sunny and Solar Power Generation in Egypt
As the number of Sunnys rose, so did their radiant personalities, leading to an increased demand for positivity. This surge in positivity somehow translated to a boost in solar power generation in Egypt. It's as if their sunny dispositions were literally shining a light on the potential of solar energy. It seems that with more Sunnys around, the future's looking brighter and sunnier in more ways than one!




What else correlates?
Popularity of the first name Sunny · all first names
Solar power generated in Egypt · all energy

A linear line chart with years as the X-axis and two variables on the Y-axis. The first variable is Frozen yogurt consumption and the second variable is Violent crime rates.  The chart goes from 1990 to 2021, and the two variables track closely in value over that time. Small Image
View details about correlation #5,905


Chilling Crime: The Frozen Yogurt Factor in Violent Crime Rates
As Frozen yogurt consumption decreased, people's brains were no longer chilled to the point of committing heinous acts, leading to a decrease in violent crime rates. The lack of fro-yo-induced inner peace and tranquility meant that individuals were too busy mourning the absence of delicious, creamy goodness to engage in acts of aggression. This sparked a nationwide movement of peaceful protests, where instead of fighting, people hugged it out while licking imaginary cones of their favorite fro-yo flavors. It turns out, the real spooning happened as a form of therapy, and the only things getting whipped were toppings on a swirl of non-violence. In the end, the only thing that was iced out was an entire criminal element, as society collectively realized that the true spoonful of justice was the one they didn’t take from the fro-yo shop.




What else correlates?
Frozen yogurt consumption · all food
Violent crime rates · all random state specific

A linear line chart with years as the X-axis and two variables on the Y-axis. The first variable is London Gold Prices and the second variable is Customer satisfaction with Whole Foods .  The chart goes from 2007 to 2012, and the two variables track closely in value over that time. Small Image
View details about correlation #5,942


Linking London Gold Prices and Loyal Whole Foods Lovers: A Lighthearted Look at the Connection
As the shiny gold prices rose, so did the moods of the Whole Foods customers, who felt like they struck it rich with their premium groceries. It's like they say, when the bling goes up, so does the zing in your grocery shopping experience!




What else correlates?
London Gold Prices · all weird & wacky
Customer satisfaction with Whole Foods · all weird & wacky

A linear line chart with years as the X-axis and two variables on the Y-axis. The first variable is The number of movies Mila Kunis appeared in and the second variable is POSCO Holdings' stock price (PKX).  The chart goes from 2002 to 2022, and the two variables track closely in value over that time. Small Image
View details about correlation #5,882


The Mila Kunis Effect: A Reel Connection to Stock Reel-itivity
As Kunis's filmography expanded, so did the appeal of POSCO's holdings, leading to a Kutis-effect on the stock price. It seems her performances weren't just box office hits, but also stock exchange sensations. Perhaps her stellar acting was the real steel driving force behind POSCO's market success, proving that in the world of finance, she truly is the Kunis-essential asset.




What else correlates?
The number of movies Mila Kunis appeared in · all films & actors
POSCO Holdings' stock price (PKX) · all stocks

A linear line chart with years as the X-axis and two variables on the Y-axis. The first variable is How 'hip and with it' Matt Parker's YouTube video titles are and the second variable is The number of zoologists in Nevada.  The chart goes from 2011 to 2021, and the two variables track closely in value over that time. Small Image
View details about correlation #4,878


Quantifying the Rhyme: Stand-up Maths Titles and Zoologists' Delights in Nevada
As the zoologists in Nevada pack up and moose-y on out, the 'stand-up' comedian in the wildlife is dwindling. It's a case of less 'hawkward' animal puns and 'otterly' un-bear-able jokes in the video titles, leaving viewers feeling like they've been koala-fied from one-of-a-kind comedic content. After all, without the zoologists, there's simply no 'otter' way to 'seal' the deal on those rib-tickling titles. And as the saying goes, when it reins, it purrs - but in this case, it just 'quacks' under pressure. So, as the Nevada zoologists take their final 'bow-wow', the 'stand-up' maths YouTuber is left wondering how to 'toucan' play at that game without their purr-sence. It's a wild world out there, and without the zoologists, the struggle for 'panda'-monium in the comedy scene is all too real.




What else correlates?
How 'hip and with it' Matt Parker's YouTube video titles are · all YouTube
The number of zoologists in Nevada · all cccupations

A linear line chart with years as the X-axis and two variables on the Y-axis. The first variable is Associates degrees awarded in Parks & Recreation and the second variable is Google searches for 'tummy ache'.  The chart goes from 2011 to 2021, and the two variables track closely in value over that time. Small Image
View details about correlation #1,472


Stomach Aches and Degrees: Investigating the Link Between Fitness Education and Google Searches for 'Tummy Ache'
As more students entered the field, there was a parallel surge in highly competitive playground tag matches, leading to an epidemic of tummy-aching laughter. Maybe all those degrees were just too hard to digest.




What else correlates?
Associates degrees awarded in Parks & Recreation · all education
Google searches for 'tummy ache' · all google searches

A linear line chart with years as the X-axis and two variables on the Y-axis. The first variable is Popularity of the first name Kendrick and the second variable is Popularity of the 'doge' meme.  The chart goes from 2006 to 2022, and the two variables track closely in value over that time. Small Image
View details about correlation #5,107


From Kendrick to Doge: Unleashing the Caninely Coincidental Correlation
Parents who named their children Kendrick were unknowingly influencing the collective consciousness to channel an inner spirit of doge-like silliness.




What else correlates?
Popularity of the first name Kendrick · all first names
Popularity of the 'doge' meme · all memes

A linear line chart with years as the X-axis and two variables on the Y-axis. The first variable is Butter consumption and the second variable is Wind power generated in United States.  The chart goes from 1990 to 2021, and the two variables track closely in value over that time. Small Image
View details about correlation #2,205


Churning the Winds: Exploring the Correlation between Butter Consumption and Wind Power Generation in the United States
As butter consumption rose, people's gas production increased, leading to greater wind power capacity in the US. This correlation may seem hard to digest, but it churns out a gouda explanation. As the saying goes, where there's a will, there's a way... and where there's wind, there's a whey!




What else correlates?
Butter consumption · all food
Wind power generated in United States · all energy

A linear line chart with years as the X-axis and two variables on the Y-axis. The first variable is UFO sightings in Rhode Island and the second variable is Total Number of Successful Mount Everest Climbs.  The chart goes from 1975 to 2011, and the two variables track closely in value over that time. Small Image
View details about correlation #3,965


Rhode to the Top: Unidentified Flying Object Sightings and Their Relation to Successful Mount Everest Climbs
The uptick in UFO sightings over Rhode Island is actually just a cover for a top-secret government program to improve mountaineering skills. Unbeknownst to the general public, these advanced UFOs are equipped with state-of-the-art climbing technology, and they've been taking unsuspecting Rhode Islanders on impromptu mountaineering excursions in their spare time. It turns out that all those individuals who reported being abducted were actually receiving intensive high-altitude training on Mount Everest. So, while it may seem like just a strange coincidence, the truth is out there... on the summit of the world's tallest peak!




What else correlates?
UFO sightings in Rhode Island · all random state specific
Total Number of Successful Mount Everest Climbs · all weird & wacky

A linear line chart with years as the X-axis and two variables on the Y-axis. The first variable is Google searches for 'how to build a lightsaber' and the second variable is The number of pest control workers in District of Columbia.  The chart goes from 2004 to 2019, and the two variables track closely in value over that time. Small Image
View details about correlation #5,962


Shining a Light on Lightsaber Longings: Analyzing the Association Between Google Searches for 'How to Build a Lightsaber' and Pest Control Employment in the District of Columbia
As more people attempted to construct their own lightsabers, they unwittingly attracted a higher number of pesky creatures, leading to an unexpected demand for pest control workers in the District of Columbia. Remember, with great power comes great bug-sponsibility!




What else correlates?
Google searches for 'how to build a lightsaber' · all google searches
The number of pest control workers in District of Columbia · all cccupations

A linear line chart with years as the X-axis and two variables on the Y-axis. The first variable is Popularity of the first name Hanna and the second variable is Popularity of the 'what does the fox say' meme.  The chart goes from 2013 to 2022, and the two variables track closely in value over that time. Small Image
View details about correlation #5,956


Hanna Be the One: Exploring the Relationship Between Hanna's Popularity and the 'What Does the Fox Say' Meme
Parents just weren't feeling "Hanna" as much anymore, and without the h-animal connection, the meme lost its foxy appeal. It's like the name Hanna was the sly key to keeping the meme relevant, but now it's time to say "Hanna later" to that internet sensation!




What else correlates?
Popularity of the first name Hanna · all first names
Popularity of the 'what does the fox say' meme · all memes

A linear line chart with years as the X-axis and two variables on the Y-axis. The first variable is Associates degrees awarded in Fire control and safety and the second variable is Liquefied petroleum gas used in Japan.  The chart goes from 2011 to 2021, and the two variables track closely in value over that time. Small Image
View details about correlation #2,099


Fanning the Flames: The Blazing Connection Between Associates Degrees in Fire Control and Safety and Liquefied Petroleum Gas Use in Japan
As fewer people held these degrees, there was a noticeable decline in the use of fire extinguishers for non-emergency purposes during weekend BBQs, leading to a reduction in the overall demand for LPG in Japan. Remember, when it comes to fire safety, sometimes it's better to just not play with fire (or gas)!




What else correlates?
Associates degrees awarded in Fire control and safety · all education
Liquefied petroleum gas used in Japan · all energy

A linear line chart with years as the X-axis and two variables on the Y-axis. The first variable is US household spending on home maintenance and the second variable is Average number of comments on Technology Connections YouTube videos.  The chart goes from 2015 to 2022, and the two variables track closely in value over that time. Small Image
View details about correlation #4,562


Home Maintenance Expenditures and Tech Talk: Unraveling the Hidden Thread Between Household Spending and YouTube Engagement
As US households invested more in home maintenance, they inadvertently unleashed a wave of tech-related questions and discussions. It seems the squeaky wheel gets the comments!




What else correlates?
US household spending on home maintenance · all weird & wacky
Average number of comments on Technology Connections YouTube videos · all YouTube

A linear line chart with years as the X-axis and two variables on the Y-axis. The first variable is Air pollution in Iowa City and the second variable is The number of library technicians in Iowa.  The chart goes from 2003 to 2022, and the two variables track closely in value over that time. Small Image
View details about correlation #2,184


The Air We Breathe: A Study on the Correlation Between Air Pollution in Iowa City and the Employment of Library Technicians in Iowa
The improved air quality led to happier, more productive residents who pursued higher education and careers, reducing the demand for library services in Iowa. It's a classic case of clean air leading to cleaner career paths!




What else correlates?
Air pollution in Iowa City · all weather
The number of library technicians in Iowa · all cccupations

A linear line chart with years as the X-axis and two variables on the Y-axis. The first variable is GMO use in corn grown in Iowa and the second variable is Google searches for 'black holes'.  The chart goes from 2004 to 2023, and the two variables track closely in value over that time. Small Image
View details about correlation #1,302


Starch Wars: The Maize of Black Holes
The decrease in GMO use led to less cornicorn production, resulting in a shortage of cosmic corn energy. This shortage caused a rift in the space-thyme continuum, leading to a maize-ssive decrease in black hole activity. The lack of genetically modified corny jokes in the universe also contributed to the cornfusing situation, ultimately pulling the plug on black hole interest. In other words, it seems the cornspiracy against GMOs has cosmically corn-e to an end, leaving us to ponder the astrophysical question: What in the Milky Way is happening in Iowa?!




What else correlates?
GMO use in corn grown in Iowa · all food
Google searches for 'black holes' · all google searches

A linear line chart with years as the X-axis and two variables on the Y-axis. The first variable is Popularity of the first name Waylon and the second variable is Wind power generated in China.  The chart goes from 1990 to 2021, and the two variables track closely in value over that time. Small Image
View details about correlation #3,018


The Waylon Wind Power Wonder: Exploring the Connection Between Name Popularity and Renewable Energy in China
As the number of babies named Waylon has risen, so has the collective amount of cowboy boots in circulation. This has inadvertently led to an uptick in boot stomping across the nation. Little did anyone know, all that rhythmic stomping has been generating small gusts of wind, contributing to the overall increase in wind power in China. It just goes to show, the name Waylon is really kicking up a storm, one boot stomp at a time!




What else correlates?
Popularity of the first name Waylon · all first names
Wind power generated in China · all energy

A linear line chart with years as the X-axis and two variables on the Y-axis. The first variable is Per capita consumption of margarine and the second variable is The divorce rate in Maine.  The chart goes from 2000 to 2009, and the two variables track closely in value over that time. Small Image
View details about correlation #5,920


Spreading Love and Margarine: An Examination of the Butter-Splitter Correlation in Maine
Perhaps as people used less margarine, they became less slippery in their relationships. The lack of artificial spread may have kept the couples from buttering each other up, leading to a decrease in overall marital strife. That's the reality when you can't believe it's not butter - it's a recipe for marital success. Alternatively, it could be that as the margarine consumption decreased, so did the overall slickness in the state, leading to fewer instances of partners feeling like they couldn't grip the marriage.




What else correlates?
Per capita consumption of margarine · all food
The divorce rate in Maine · all random state specific

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Why this works

  1. Data dredging: I have 25,237 variables in my database. I compare all these variables against each other to find ones that randomly match up. That's 636,906,169 correlation calculations! This is called “data dredging.” Fun fact: the chart used on the wikipedia page to demonstrate data dredging is also from me. I've been being naughty with data since 2014.
    Instead of starting with a hypothesis and testing it, I instead tossed a bunch of data in a blender to see what correlations would shake out. It’s a dangerous way to go about analysis, because any sufficiently large dataset will yield strong correlations completely at random.
  2. Lack of causal connection: There is probably no direct connection between these variables, despite what the AI says above. Because these pages are automatically generated, it's possible that the two variables you are viewing are in fact causually related. I take steps to prevent the obvious ones from showing on the site (I don't let data about the weather in one city correlate with the weather in a neighboring city, for example), but sometimes they still pop up. If they are related, cool! You found a loophole.
    This is exacerbated by the fact that I used "Years" as the base variable. Lots of things happen in a year that are not related to each other! Most studies would use something like "one person" in stead of "one year" to be the "thing" studied.
  3. Observations not independent: For many variables, sequential years are not independent of each other. You will often see trend-lines form. If a population of people is continuously doing something every day, there is no reason to think they would suddenly change how they are doing that thing on January 1. A naive p-value calculation does not take this into account. You will calculate a lower chance of "randomly" achieving the result than represents reality.

    To be more specific: p-value tests are probability values, where you are calculating the probability of achieving a result at least as extreme as you found completely by chance. When calculating a p-value, you need to assert how many "degrees of freedom" your variable has. I count each year (minus one) as a "degree of freedom," but this is misleading for continuous variables.

    This kind of thing can creep up on you pretty easily when using p-values, which is why it's best to take it as "one of many" inputs that help you assess the results of your analysis.
  4. Y-axes doesn't start at zero: I truncated the Y-axes of the graphs above. I also used a line graph, which makes the visual connection stand out more than it deserves. Nothing against line graphs. They are great at telling a story when you have linear data! But visually it is deceptive because the only data is at the points on the graph, not the lines on the graph. In between each point, the data could have been doing anything. Like going for a random walk by itself!
    Mathematically what I showed is true, but it is intentionally misleading. If you click on any of the charts that abuse this, you can scroll down to see a version that starts at zero.
  5. Confounding variable: Confounding variables (like global pandemics) will cause two variables to look connected when in fact a "sneaky third" variable is influencing both of them behind the scenes.
  6. Outliers: Some datasets here have outliers which drag up the correlation. In concept, "outlier" just means "way different than the rest of your dataset." When calculating a correlation like this, they are particularly impactful because a single outlier can substantially increase your correlation.

    Because this page is automatically generated, I don't know whether any of the charts displayed on it have outliers. I'm just a footnote. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
    I intentionally mishandeled outliers, which makes the correlation look extra strong.
  7. Low n: There are not many data points included in some of these charts. You can do analyses with low ns! But you shouldn't data dredge with a low n.
    Even if the p-value is high, we should be suspicious of using so few datapoints in a correlation.


Pro-tip: click on any correlation to see:

Project by Tyler Vigen
emailme@tylervigen.com · about · subscribe


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