Sunday, July 14, 2013

Chocolate & Nobel Laureates

You all know that there is a big difference between an association, or correlation, and a case of cause and effect. The more televisions you own, the more likely you are to die early of heart disease. Could it be the light emission from the TV, or even something deadly from the weather report? Of course not. The more TVs you have, the more time you are likely to watch telly, the less likely you are to be out walking the dog, and you can complete the explanation yourself quite easily.

Last year there was a report in the New England Journalof Medicine demonstrating that there was a direct link between the national chocolate consumption and the number of Nobel laureates from that country. It was speculated that all those flavanols in the cocoa were a boost to thinking and chocolate consumption should be widely promoted for a higher national IQ.

The media, not being a discerning beast, didn’t read the article properly. If they had they would have twigged that it was written tongue in cheek. Instead, it was reported as a cause and effect and not just an association.

An article published last month in the Journal of Nutrition pointed out the folly of choosing a single correlation to make an assumption. Tea and wine also contain the antioxidant flavanols, yet there is no such association between consumption and brain power for these two popular beverages.

On the other hand, there is a very strong link between the number of Noble laureates and the number of IKEA stores in that country.

And that, surely, is proof why you need to throw out that old sofa and head down to IKEA. Today. You will think so much clearly.

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