Did you know that in Hawaii, it is a proven statistic that as the rate of ice cream sales rise, so do the rate of shark attacks? I didn't.
This is what we learn in my Psychology class. My teacher presented several causes for this statistic. Perhaps, for instance, sharks are very fond of ice cream but have trouble obtaining it. Therefore, they eat humans who have consumed ice cream recently.
I was thinking, man, now I have a great fact to pull out at parties when things get dull, or maybe an ice breaker for talking to a guy at the library, or perhaps an interesting potential research paper.
No such luck.
Turns out, as my Psych professor reiterated about five hundred times, Correlation does NOT imply Causation. Or in other words, just because two statistics go together, we can't assume one causes the other.
The simple answer to the ice cream shark attack correlation is, of course, that when it is hot more people buy ice cream, and similarly more people go swimming. Hence, a rise in ice cream sales and shark attacks.
I have to admit that despite my loss of an interesting conversation starter, this was somewhat of a relief... because I like ice cream, and as Hawaii is my current place of residence... well, I wouldn't want to take any chances.