Statistical Noise Sometimes Sounds Like Music
May 14 2014Just because data is big, doesn’t mean that it’s right. A new blog, Spurious Correlations, allows you to automatically generate your own dubious insights. For example, the annual number of new cars sold in the U.S. turns out to be “closely linked” with the per capita consumption of high fructose corn syrup:
This is a joke, sure, but it’s also a cautionary tale.
For every new type of data that computers analyze, there is exponential growth in the number of correlations that the machines can detect. Some of these — just as persuasive looking as the real ones — will be bogus. Converting computers’ output into sound and humane policy requires a critical view and statistical expertise.