(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Correlation

“Correlation does not imply causation”*…


From stat-enthusiast (and full-time law student) Tyler Vigen, entertaining examples of patterns that map in compelling– but totally-inconsequential– ways…

More (and larger) examples at the sensational Spurious Correlations.

* a maxim widely repeated in science and statistics; also rendered: (P&Q)≠(P→Q)٧(Q→P).  It addresses the post hoc, ergo propter hoc (“affirming the consequent”) logical fallacy


As we think before we leap, we might send energetic (really energetic) birthday greetings to Enrico Fermi; he was born on this date in 1901.  A physicist who is best remembered for (literally) presiding over the birth of the Atomic Age, he was also remarkable as the last “double-threat” in his field:  a genius at creating both important theories and elegant experiments.  As recently observed, the division of labor between theorists and experimentalists has since been pretty complete.

The novelist and historian of science C. P. Snow wrote that “if Fermi had been born a few years earlier, one could well imagine him discovering Rutherford’s atomic nucleus, and then developing Bohr’s theory of the hydrogen atom. If this sounds like hyperbole, anything about Fermi is likely to sound like hyperbole.”



Written by (Roughly) Daily

September 29, 2014 at 1:01 am

Lies, Damned Lies, and…

From Vali Chandrasekaran, on BusinessWeek.com: Need to prove something you already believe? Statistics are easy: All you need are two graphs and a leading question.  Correlation may not imply causation, but it sure can help us insinuate it.

More here.


As we recalibrate our conclusions, we might send amplified birthday wishes to musician, composer, and inventor Les Paul; he was born on this date in 1915.  Paul was an accomplished jazz and country songwriter and guitarist; but he is surely best remembered as a pioneer in the development of the solid-body electric guitar (and an early adopter of techniques like over-dubbing, tape delay, and multi-track recording)– that’s to say, as a father of rock and roll.

Les Paul, playing a Gibson Les Paul (source)

Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 9, 2012 at 1:01 am

Correlation = Causality?…



As we think not, we might recall that it was on this date in 356 BCE that the Temple of Artemis (AKA the Temple of Diana) in Ephesus– reputedly the first Greek temple built of marble, sponsored by Croesus,  and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World– was destroyed by a fire set in its roof beams.

Model of Temple of Artemis, Miniatürk Park, Istanbul (source)

Site in Ephesus today (source)

More mathematical merriment…


As we revisit our premises, we might recall that it was on this date in 1678 that the Gazette of London offered a reward to anyone who could identify the author of an electrifying pamphlet called “An Account of the Growth of Popery.”  It was subsequently revealed to be the work of Andrew Marvell.

While we tend to remember Marvell as the creator of poems like “To His Coy Mistress,” he was known in his own time as a political figure.  As a young man, Marvell served as tutor to Cromwell’s son and assistant to Milton.  But Marvell became a supporter of the Restoration, a position that he pursued from a seat in Parliament that he occupied from 1659, the year of Cromwell’s death, until his own.  By the 1670s, Marvell had become a prolific, albeit largely anonymous, pamphleteer.

Indeed, we know Marvell as poet only because his housekeeper, pretending to be his widow, published “Miscellaneous Poems,” the only collection of his poems, in 1681– three years after his death.

Andrew Marvell

Written by (Roughly) Daily

March 21, 2009 at 6:56 am