Miss America, Apples, and the Grim Reaper in your Garden

Of course we all know that "correlation does not imply causation". Still, there's this irking feeling in the back of your head: if two things strongly correlate, they must have something to do with each other, right?

Tyler Vigen has collected some nice data on "spurious correlations" over here. (That's "spurious" in the sense of the every day meaning of the word, not in the mathematical sense).

Know the old saying: "an apple a day keeps the doctor away?". Well, if you are lucky enough to own a garden, I suggest you also take a note of their price while you do your grocery shopping. According to this data, there is a positive correlation between the price of red delicious apples and the number of people getting killed by misusing a lawnmower. If that apples burn a hole in your pocket, you'd better read the manual of your new robomow twice.

While still a perfect place for recreation and rest, lawnmowers are not the only place where the reaper lurks in your garden. Data suggests to be particularly wary of swimming pools next year: There is a strong positive correlation between the number of people who drowned by falling into a swimming pool and the number of movies Nicholas Cage appeared in in that year. According to IMDB, Mr. Cage is currently working on three movies to be released in 2015 - so better watch your steps in your garden next summer.

The world outside your garden is a dangerous place, too. In 2014, doom may strike from unexpected directions: Miss America. How could that pretty, innocent-looking face...? Well - while she may look unsuspicious, this year's Miss America is among the Methusalems of Miss Americas (she's 24) - and there's a strong correlation between the age of Miss America and murders by steam, hot vapours and hot objects - the data doesn't lie.

If you enjoy going skiing in winter, you might want to think twice before feeding that industry: The correlation coefficient between the revenue generated by US skiing facilities and the number of people who died becoming entangled in their bedsheets is a whopping 0.9697. Similarly high - at 0.9524 - is the correlation between people drowned after falling out of fishing boats with the marriage rate in Kentucky. I really hope there is no causal relation in the latter.

With all that said, it remains to wish you great and recreative holidays (and take care ;).

P.S.: You might not want to take me too serious, though - incidentally, the number of engineering doctorates awarded per year correlates with the number of people who tripped over their own feet and died (I can see a connection there ;).