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Smelling Ability, Social Life, and ... Nicolas Cage


This headline caught my attention:

'Smell you later!' Ability to smell well linked to social life in older women

There could be something to it. A well-functioning sense of smell has been linked with many health conditions, including reduced risk for dementia. Health and social life are surely linked. However, before enrolling in a nose-training course, keep in mind that when scientists examine enough variables, a few odd correlations are guaranteed to emerge, and further research is needed to find out if they represent real relationships or statistical error.

The unexpectedness of this correlation reminded me of the Spurious Correlations web site, which finds strange relationships between variables that are (probably) due to chance alone, such as this one:

Whenever you see a correlation between two things reported in the news, just think of Nicolas Cage and swimming pool mishaps. It is not always a guarantee that one thing causes the other.

This post was written by Mike Battista, a staff scientist at Cambridge Brain Sciences.