I can make up correlations too (in the wild).

Hem Line index updated
This is an article from the New York Times updating the hemline index. The hemline index, first proposed by economist George Taylor in the 1920s, is a proposal that says during hard economic times women’s hem lines get longer. Shorter skirts = Better economy.
The author is looking to update the hemline index to more modern times.

She finds some interesting correlations in her research. (The author explicitly mentions that “the causal link is elusive”)

Some indices that are suggested include:

During hard economic times:
Laxative sales go up
Sales of tobacco, carbonated drinks, and eggs go down
Sales of rice, beans, grains, and pasta go up (dry goods)
Property crime rises
people tend to head back to school

During good economic times:
Deodorant sales go up
Sales of lettuce, steak, and fruit go up (perishable items containing water)

She also notes that candy, beer, and pasta are recession proof.

I find all that to be very interesting.

I also find this to be interesting, but for entirely different reason. At the beginning of her article she talks about Terry Pettijohn II, a professor of psychology at Coastal Carolina University. Professor Pettijohn is a professor of psychology who studies how “economic and social factors shape preferences in popular music, movie stars, and Playboy models.” This is his job. He concludes that during hard economic times people like songs that are “longer, slower, and with more meaningful themes.” In another article he concludes that during hard economic times Playboy’s playmate of the year appears to have a “more mature appearance”. (ie older, heavier, taller, and less curvy.) He also finds that in hard economic times American movie stars tend to have “small eyes, large chins, and thin faces” and thus “a more mature appearance.”

These correlations, which may exist, and may in fact be strong correlations, seem a little shaky to me.
But if that’s the game you want to play then let’s have at it. Since 1918 the red sox have won the World Series in 3 years. Since 1918 I have been in grad school for 4 years. The correlation between me being in grad school and the red sox winning a World Series is .65403. This is statistically significant to the .0001 level. (That means it is VERY statistically significant.) I like that game.

So, I’m not sure I buy any of Professor Pettijohn’s correlations (Of course I am making that judgement without reading any of his papers, so I am being a little unfair.), but I do know that this man is smarter than I am because he has convinced someone to pay him to look at Playboy centerfolds. Truly he is living out his boyhood dreams. Congratulations Professor.


Posted on October 24, 2008, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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