As everyone who ever survived an Intro To Statistics class knows, correlation does not imply causation. But, like everything else meaningless on the Internet, that doesn't mean you can’t waste some time looking at pictures of it. Hence Spurious Correlations, a blog created by Harvard Law School student Tyler Vigen, which takes data from various publicly available sources like the USDA, the Center For Disease Control, and the U.S. Census and searches for correlations between them. And so, for instance, we finally have graphical proof that the rate of people dying in swimming pools in a year goes up and down at roughly the same rate that Nicolas Cage appears in movies. Or that the age of a given year’s Miss America winner tracks strongly with the annual murder rate via “steam, hot vapours, and hot objects.”
Of course, all of the correlations are fundamentally meaningless, just like your poor harried STAT 101 TA tried to teach you all those years ago. But that doesn't mean you can’t dazzle the other attendees at your next dinner party by casually mentioning the fact that juvenile marijuana arrests in the U.S. go down at the same rate that the number of honey-producing bee colonies goes up. It’s the perfect recipe for hours of confused, off-base speculation.