01 February 2008
One Hundred Years of Solitude with Lolita
Gabriel Garcia Marquez meets Vladimir Nabokov. An excellent example of how the number-crunching capabilities of computers can produce results that may not be valid, but are still interesting. A person at Cal Tech used information in Facebook to compile a listing of "favorite books," and the colleges attended by those who read them. He then downloaded the average SAT scores at the colleges and ran a correlation analysis to see what books are read by smart people and which ones are read by dumb people. Marquez and Nabokov's books are at the top, with "The Color Purple" and something called "Zane" at the bottom. Not surprisingly, most books are in the middle, so the statistical relevance is weak, but the website is still interesting if only for the subpage where 1300 colleges and universities are ranked by average SAT score of their students.