People who do x are more likely to y
May 14, 2012 8:10 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to read about unexpected statistical correlations that begin to emerge when companies or academics use data mining to analyze behaviour in large groups of people. I'm looking for articles/sites that are a little more serious than this (found while searching Metafilter for this topic). More like this (NYT: Target is able to predict that some customers are pregnant before their children are born). Thanks for your recommendations!

And yes, I know that correlation does not imply causation.
posted by Termite to Society & Culture (4 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Previously, including a great NYT Magazine story on Canadian Tire combining in-store purchase data with overall credit card transactions (they are a card issuer):
His data indicated, for instance, that people who bought cheap, generic automotive oil were much more likely to miss a credit-card payment than someone who got the expensive, name-brand stuff. People who bought carbon-monoxide monitors for their homes or those little felt pads that stop chair legs from scratching the floor almost never missed payments. Anyone who purchased a chrome-skull car accessory or a “Mega Thruster Exhaust System” was pretty likely to miss paying his bill eventually.

Martin’s measurements were so precise that he could tell you the “riskiest” drinking establishment in Canada — Sharx Pool Bar in Montreal, where 47 percent of the patrons who used their Canadian Tire card missed four payments over 12 months. He could also tell you the “safest” products — premium birdseed and a device called a “snow roof rake” that homeowners use to remove high-up snowdrifts so they don’t fall on pedestrians.
posted by djb at 8:21 AM on May 14, 2012

What about Ok Trends? Not sure it counts as more serious, but the "unexpected" part made me think of this post on correlations between first-date questions you can actually ask and first-date questions you actually want to know the answer to. As a bonus they do some pretty nice infographics over there!
posted by ootandaboot at 2:21 PM on May 14, 2012

Freakonomics books and the blog touch upon these subjects a lot
posted by radsqd at 9:23 AM on May 15, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for your replies! I should have replied earlier, but I'm sorry, I completely forgot about this page.
posted by Termite at 10:46 PM on May 28, 2012

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