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Height, also contagious.

February 19, 2009

Or “Correlation is still not the same as causation, someone alert the fucking media.”

Remember all those studies that said that fat was contagious and that if you knew a fat person you were more likely to get Teh FatZ0rZ.

Turns out you can also catch height, acne, and headaches.

…the same empirical specification used in previous studies (ie. logistic regression of own health ~ friends’ health + X) also “detects” significant and fairly large network effects for implausible outcomes such as acne, height, and headaches. For example, having a friend with headache problems increases the respondent’s chances of headache problems by about 47% on average. These implausible placebo findings suggest that previous findings may have been driven by confounding.

This study, which they are calling a “placebo” study essentially proves that there is an inherent bias in the way the other studies were conducted.  The correlation between people who associate with each other is not proof that it causes them to get fat, or be smokers, etc.

Funny, I haven’t seen much press on this study, have you?  So much for the  Tall-isity Epidemic.

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10 Comments
  1. I think that is one of the awesomest things i’ve read in a hot minute.

  2. *Runs off to catch me some tall.*

  3. Any Tall-ies around that I can come rub up against to catch the Tall? Then maybe these uber long LB jeans wouldn’t drag over my feet 😉

  4. I’m totally here for you man. Maybe you’ll catch teh tall just from reading my blog!! (I’m 6′)

  5. Now this is funny. Also, occurs to me – did the researchers correct for genetics? Ie., if a person is tall, or fat, or has acne, there’s a fair chance that a lot of people around them will also show those physical characteristics because they’re, you know, related?

    Also there’s the issue of affinity, birds of a feather etc. I have a higher than average percentage of friends who’re nuts about music or who play instruments. And hey, that MAY have something to do with my being a music journalist. Or, you know, it could show something about how liking music is contagious.

    I really wish someone would familiarise journalists who report science stories (and some scientists) with the principle of Occam’s Razor.

  6. apt9000 permalink

    Part of me wants to run around and hug (I was going to say rub up against, but then that sounded too dirty) random people going “I’m spreading my tall!”

    It is very very tempting. 🙂

  7. (sniffles sadly)

    And yet in more than fifteen years of marriage to a tall man whose best friend is even taller than he is, I’M STILL ONLY 5’2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Like, I can tell you one reason that people with acne might spend a lot of time with other people with acne. Most of them are teenagers. Teenagers hang out with other teenagers. This is not actually rocket science.

  9. And yet in more than fifteen years of marriage to a tall man whose best friend is even taller than he is, I’M STILL ONLY 5′2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Tell me about it! I’ve been living with a tall guy for 2 and a half years, and I’ve even hung out with Shinobi! Still 5’2″, dammit!

  10. Clearly everyone needs to hang out with me more so they cant catch my Tall.

    I’ll even tell you my secret, when I was 4 I ate a box of miracle grow, I am not even kidding.

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