Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fun With Statistics - Music That Makes You Dumb

I just saw this in the Wall Street Journal and I think that this is hysterical...especially given the music that I post on this blog from time to time.

February 27, 2009, 11:19 AM ET
Books and Music That Make You Dumb

Anyone who has ever sought to justify their own musical or literary taste may find some solace in the side project of Virgil Griffith, a 25-year-old Caltech graduate student known for embarrassing numerous corporations with his WikiScanner, the database that tracks the sources of anonymous edits to Wikipedia entries.

With his two Web sites (which have crashed from too much traffic), and, Griffith used aggregated Facebook data about the favorite bands and books among students of various colleges and plotted them against the average SAT scores at those schools, creating a tongue-in-cheek statistical look at taste and intelligence.

Here's the partial list of music as associated with SAT scores
What does it mean if you're all over the map, so to speak, with your musical choices?
(not to say that I'm so all over the map that I'm listening to Beyonce and Justin Timberlake)

Here's the partial list of books.
And the methodology from the website

Get a friend of yours to download, using Facebook, the ten most frequent "favorite books" at every college (manually -- as not to violate Facebook's ToS). These ten books are indicative of the overall intellectual milieu of that college.
Download the average SAT/ACT score (from CollegeBoard) for students attending every college.
Presto! We have a correlation between books and dumbitude (smartitude too)!
Books <=> Colleges <=> Average SAT Scores
Plot the average SAT of each book, discarding books with too few samples to have a reliable average.
Post the results on your website, pondering what the Internet will think of it.
Yes, I'm aware correlation ≠ causation. The results are hilarity incarnate regardless of causality. You can stop sending me email about this distinction. Thanks.
Ah, the fun you can have with Facebook...
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