20 October 2011

Correlation and Causation

One interesting tool that Google provides for users is called Google Correlate. It takes a search term from the user, and then returns a list of search terms that had similar activity.

Usually, the correlation makes sense. For example, the search term "new year" would spike near the beginning of each year. Terms that correlate with "new year" include terms such as "new year traditions", or "new year games".

However, as the image below shows, this is not always the case. While the activity of the search term "google" and "kratom" are similar, they have nothing to do with each other. This is a good tool to understand that correlation does not always imply causation.


absolutely right: correlation does not imply causation. In 1946 the pregnancy rate in the USA went way up as did beer consumption. So, does drinking beer make you pregnant?
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