The Jan. 3 issue of The Olympian contained an article headlined “Study links rapes to college game days.” The article attempts to correlate rapes and college football days and, through implication, a cause-and-effect relationship. A long-recognized principle in science is that correlation does not equal causation. An excellent book, “Spurious Correlations” published in 2015 by author Tyler Vigen, provides numerous examples of spurious correlations.
Some examples: a 98.9 percent correlation between margarine consumption and the divorce rate in Maine; a 99.6 percent correlation between chicken consumption and consumption of paper and paper board products; a 97.8 percent correlation between McDonald’s global revenue and the value of exports of non-edible fishery product; a 99.6 percent correlation between undergraduate enrollment in U.S. universities and injuries related to falling TVs; a 97.9 percent correlation between honey-producing bee colonies in the U.S. and nuclear weapons in Russian stockpiles; a 99.4 percent correlation between LEGO revenue and worldwide revenue from commercial space launches; a 97.8 percent correlation between Jennifer Lawrence film appearances and the GDP of Australia; the list of dozens of additional examples goes on and on in the book.
The book reminds us that correlation does not equal causation and one would hope that activists would not try to use this unproven correlation/causation football game vs. rape theory to further their causes.