January 24, 2013

Enough with the Nobel correlations, already

Remember the correlation between current chocolate consumption and all-time Nobel Prizes?

Two British researchers now have done the same exercise for current milk consumption. Their letter, in the journal Practical Neurology suggests (I hope not seriously) that vitamin D might be responsible. They used Messerli’s data on Nobel Prizes, and don’t seem to have noticed any of the problems with it.

As you will remember, we showed length of country name (per capita) was rather more strongly correlated with Nobel Prizes (per capita) than chocolate consumption, and it also beats milk consumption. It’s also much more convincing as a causal relationship: the country names are much more constant over the time the Nobel Prize data were accumulated than milk or chocolate consumption, and since there’s no plausible mechanism for wealthy countries to have longer names than poor countries we avoid economic confounding.



Thomas Lumley (@tslumley) is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. His research interests include semiparametric models, survey sampling, statistical computing, foundations of statistics, and whatever methodological problems his medical collaborators come up with. He also blogs at Biased and Inefficient See all posts by Thomas Lumley »


  • avatar
    James Washer

    Clearly one needs to look no futher than Chocolate Milk consumption. Well, ok, perhaps hot chocolate needs to be considered as well.

    3 years ago