July 19, 2010

Obesity, Beer and Christianity: Or Correlation does not equal causation

One of the basic rules in statistical analysis is that correlation does not equal causation. But in the hot days of a Kentucky summer one often gives into temptation, especially if the graphs look good.

We therefore leave it to our readers to jump to the unsupported causal relationship. Sorry, you'll have to work/think through this one yourself.

Y-axis: Percentage of a state's population that is Obese
X- axis: Number of Placemarks with
Keyword Beer / Total number of Placemarks

Bivaritate correlation (-0.45)

Y-axis: Percentage of a state's population that is Obese
X- axis: Number of Placemarks
with Keyword Christianity / Total number of Placemarks
Bivaritate correlation (0.729)

Although the nature of the graphs invite one to believe that Christianity is somehow responsible for obesity this is no doubt a spurious correlation. It is well known that obesity and religious practice are strongly related to income. One can see this in which states are clustered at the extremes.

Why places with a high percentage of beer reference are less obese is a bit more difficult to explain.

Don't worry, we have more. We particularly like relationship between placemarks with the terms falafel and feminist.


  1. Maybe in states that have plenty of obese people, people in trouble start believing in christianity.

    Placemarks do not neccessary present how much of beer peolpe drink. I have few friends that are obese and they connect better with beer than christianity. Maybe they are pretending?

  2. I knew it! Beer burns calories! Hallelujah!

  3. Let's see a map of this data so we can see a metro effect.

  4. I suspect very few people are placing 'beer placemarks' in relation to coors or bud light, but rather that you will find most placemarks tend to be about craft beers or other higher end brand events... in other words, more beer placemarks are more likely to correlate with higher income, hence the resulting lower weight correlation.

  5. Obesity is a world wide problem, that's why Britain makes shows like this to try and stop Europe getting worse and ending up like the US, and its working. We have done many things to tackle obesity over the last 10yrs, these shows are one of many. The US is also where obesity is at its most extreme (The US takes everything to the extreme) no other country has giant coffins for 11yrs old or people so obese limbs snap off.Show people that extreme an it shocks them in to change.thanks!
    Quick weight loss support


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