So, I was going to write a really important post tonight. It was going to deal with philosophy of science, and it was going to be a shoe-in for Open Lab 2011. It was gonna make you question how you thought about Life, The Universe, And Everything.
And then Google Labs released a new tool.
And I was all, “WOO SHINY NEW TOY!”
That was how I found out about ultimate frisbee and insects.
“Google Correlate is an experimental new tool on Google Labs which enables you to find queries with a similar pattern to a target data series. The target can either be a real-world trend that you provide (e.g., a data set of event counts over time) or a query that you enter.”
Basically, Google takes a search term that you enter (“insects”) and examines search patterns for other search terms in its database to calculate a correlation coefficient (r). It’s an extension of Google Trends; it’s looking to see which search terms trend together.
In case you barely remember that statistics class from your misspent youth, the correlation coefficient is a value between -1 and +1. The closer to ±1 the r value is, the more closely correlated the patterns are. The closer the value to zero, the less the two patterns are related.
Of course, we’ve all heard the “correlation is not causation” trope a million times. It’s especially true here; when you don’t even have a hypothesis about a relationship, the data points are just amusing.
So for your amusement and edification:
In addition to frisbee, “insects” is also strongly correlated with the search terms “snake photo” and “lizards”.
“Ants” is most strongly correlated with “string trimmer.”
“Bees” is most strongly correlated with “Tool Rental.” “Honey Bee” is correlated with “raptor cam“.
“Roaches” is most strongly correlated with “warts,” as well as “5 year anniversary.”
“Lice” is strongly correlated with “dragon fruit“, but also “literacy stations” and “cheer routine.” In fact, several cheerleading terms show up in the correlation list for “lice.” “Head Lice” is strongly correlated with “tackle football“, and “Nits“are correlated with “cheerleading bows“, so perhaps football season mirrors lice season?
And, of course, you know I had to go there.
“Crab Lice” is most strongly correlated with….”Lighthouses“?
“Pubic Lice” is most strongly correlated with….a host of civil war search terms.
I am frankly rather baffled about why these search terms should be seasonally correlated, unless Civil War Re-enactors are taking things a little too seriously in their search for authenticity.
Give it a spin–what fun correlations can you discover?