Spurious correlations are a common and obvious problem that afflicts a lot of science. Tyler Vigen’s site is dedicated to collecting them. They’re pointless fun to see. Here’s how the divorce rate in Maine is driven by the consumption of margarine across the US:
I was recently talking to some friends about how lost the idea and practice of shorthand is. Dennis Hollier has a great summary of how it works. For those not familiar, it’s a bit like cursive writing on overdrive. here’s a quick picture of a Gregg shorthand paragraph:
Having studied them pretty casually over the last few years — did you know squirrels bark? — I wasn’t really shocked that a scientist has found that squirrels definitely are able to differentiate among human behaviors:
Squirrels “can tell if a human is looking at them,” or if a person behaves in an unusual way, Bateman found. Squirrels were 40 percent more likely to scoot if Bateman focused his attention on them. And 90 percent of the squirrels leapt away if the scientist left the sidewalk to stalk them across the grass. “They don’t get scared by humans all the time,” he explains. But they always seem to pay close attention to what people do. Bateman published his results June 12 in the Journal of Zoology.
Really interesting little chart from the US Census Bureau: the mean center of population as calculated on every decennial census. As I stepped through, I kept wait for it to drift back to the east a bit. Maybe in a few more hundred years…
Wait But Why explores with an admirable depth the answers that have so far been posited for the Fermi Paradox, which they summarize as:
Some people stick with the traditional, feeling struck by the epic beauty or blown away by the insane scale of the universe. Personally, I go for the old “existential meltdown followed by acting weird for the next half hour.” But everyone feelssomething.
Physicist Enrico Fermi felt something too—”Where is everybody?”
If you’ve worked in shipping or (retail) logistics, you’ve probably have seen a blue pallet. They’re so much luxuriously better than a traditional ones whose quality is all over the map. I’d always wondered their story, this explains all the drama that surrounds these CHEP pallets quite well:
CHEP doesn’t sell pallets; it rents them. This means that, in contrast to the world of whitewood, where a pallet may change ownership many times, CHEP maintains control of its pallets throughout their lives. But the company’s experience operating what is known in the industry as a “closed pool” didn’t translate easily into the American context, where supply chains were longer, more complex, and geographically dispersed.
As the story goes onto detail, much chaos has ensued because of this reality of American shipping.
David Mendoza put together a pretty awesome series of charts of how effective the introduction of the measles vaccine was in stopping new cases across the United States. This one really requires no introduction: