Friday, October 12, 2012

Eating More Chocolate

There's a rather funny article in the New England Journal of Medicine that finds a "significant linear correlation" between per capita consumption of chocolate and the density of Nobel Prize winners in 23 countries. Switzerland has both the highest density of Nobel Prize winners, as well as the most chocolate consumption per capita. (This study goes through 2011, I fear the findings might be much skewed by this year's Nobel Prizes.)

One of the really wonderful things about a "significant linear correlation" is that you can imagine all sorts of different cause-effect scenarios, none of which are likely to be true. But they're fun to think about! The article points out several possibilities (that's how an article in the 'serious' New England Journal of Medicine ends up 'funny'), I added one of my own below:

Chocolate makes you smart. Nobel prizes are for smart people. People who eat more chocolate win more Nobel Prizes.

OR people win Nobel Prizes which causes them to eat more chocolate.

OR people celebrate Nobel Prizes by eating lots of chocolate.

OR chocolate costs a lot of money. People who live in countries that can afford to eat a lot of chocolate have more resources to win Nobel Prizes.

OR the Nobel Prize Committee has a vested interest in chocolate consumption and thus, awards their Nobel Prizes (by country) accordingly.

Well, whatever the relationship may be, I'm happy to do my part with the chocolate consumption.


Anonymous said...

I love the way you have "played around" with causal and correlational relationships. It made me smile, but after watching the presidential debate last night, it also made me wonder how many people in our country (including political candidates) would not get a chuckle out of your post BECAUSE THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE! AAACCCKKK!

Dan and Amanda Meyer said...

Dan and I were just talking about that article the other day and had a good laugh about all the possible interpretations.

Maybe Hersey's was one of the secret funders of this research. It's all a ploy to get us to eat more chocolate!

Ann Wyse said...

Oh, yes! WHO sponsored the the research?? Such a good point!

Pregnantly Plump said...

I'm glad to now have a very good excuse when I raid the boys' Halloween chocolates.

rooth said...

I really like all the different scenarios you went through. I like to pretend it's people celebrate Nobel Prizes by eating lots of chocolate. I'm imagining chocolate fountains everywhere!

twisterfish said...

I'm going with eat a lot of chocolate to be smart enough to win Nobel Prize. I'm working on it!