I hope Orac is happy with his iMac

Today on his blog, Orac announced to the world that he bought a new iMac. I hope he’s happy. I hope he’s happy because, according to the following graph, the price of Apple stock correlates with the rise in autism:

“iAutism”?

I’m joking, of course. That graph is a visual trick that you get when you overlay two things that trended in the same direction, ignore the magnitude of their scale, and then make some assumption based on what you see in the graphs and not in the data. Anti-vaccine people do it all the time. Those of us who are real scientists can do it, but then we get caught and sanctioned by our peers, our credibility flying out the window.

I’m not the only one pointing out this trick. Here’s a graph correlating autism with organic food sales. So look at the data from which the graphs are derived. Analyze it. Think it through. Think critically about it. And then draw your conclusions. That’s how science works.

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4 thoughts on “I hope Orac is happy with his iMac

  1. Thanks for a good explanation. Hopefully you don't upset Chris and ScienceMom as I did when commenting on ways to spot dodgy graphs (such as the one with autism and organic food sales). It is not always just a question of similar trends. I am still convinced that education is the way to go, and if we can have fun at the same time – so much better.

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