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More nonsense in the newspapers

14 February 2013

9:12 AM

14 February 2013

9:12 AM

There’s another one of those fatuous “studies” in the papers today, based upon that favourite newspaper device, the false correlation. This time it’s about marriage; if you want to make your marriage work, move to Dorset, because part of it has the highest number of married couples in the country and they are more likely to stay married. The implication is that there must be something magical about Dorset, and that if you moved to, say, Wimborne, or Curry Rivel, any marital problems you might have had would immediately evaporate.

Of course the reason more people are married in Dorset is that the average age of the population there is greater, and the older you are the more likely you are a) to be married and b) not to get divorced. It is also why Dorset has the highest life expectancy in the country; again, by simple stats, the older you are the greater your chances of living longer. It is odd that the papers tend to fall for this sort of false correlation; they cannot, surely, be THAT stupid, can they? And yet you see an example of it almost every week.

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