22 September 2008

When correlation and causation are close bedfellows

Our intrepid correspondent Katie forwarded a little gem to us today: A chart graphing music preferences related to SAT scores.

Here's a tiny peak at the chart (the vertical axis means nothing):

Click to make HUGE!

Might I take a moment to smugly note that the forerunner after Beethoven's commanding lead is... why, it's none other than Sufjan Stevens! Huh! How about THAT! Guster, Ben Folds and Radiohead also take strong and unsurprising leads on the intellectual front.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are people who list Lil' Wayne as their favorite artist. We also see a cluster of people too disinterested in music to narrow down anything more specific than an entire genre: pop, jazz, gospel, rock. Clearly, the people who just say "classical" without being able to conjure up a single name only want to appear smart. Tsk. (Apparently, if you want to appear smart, you should just tell people you listen to Sufjan.)

Also of interesting note are certain artists who are very tightly clustered at a certain point (John Mayer) while others enjoy a considerable spread (OutKast). Draw your own conclusions.

There're more than 1350 schools listed here from which these results were culled, including the Top 10 rankings in music for each school. Schools are ranked according to SAT scores.

Notes of personal interest: Jess' school, Vassar, is highly ranked (#32) but lists only three artists from the list as favorite. Ask her, and she'll no doubt claim it's because they're all listening to amazing under-the-radar stuff that doesn't gain enough cumulative popularity to make rank in a list like this. [insert eyeroll here] My own alma matter, Western Washington University (#414) has a strong showing for local heroes Modest Mouse and Death Cab for Cutie--the members of which are all WWU alums themselves.

This allows us to consider certain degrees of "favoritism" among band-university relations: Christian bands are very popular at College of the Ozarks; Electronica and experimental music of all sorts is popular at, well, most schools with "technical" in its name.

This list could be a handy, handy tool. Can't choose between schools? Take a quick peek at rankings, then at music choices. (Hmmm, Maybe St. Paul's College, at #1351, wouldn't be such a good fit, listing only R&B, Rap and Lil Wayne).

Anyway. This was a long, narcissistic and perhaps somewhat irritating way of implying that this "proves" our Sufjan love somehow correlates with our high intelligence. Feel free to negate me, but I have to get back to thesis writing. It makes up for the low self-esteem.


Anonymous said...

they appear to have switched the david bowie and sufjan positions by mistake.

Lizzie said...

This makes me proud.