Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Linear regression is a method for modeling the relationship between two sets of data, assuming that the two have a linear correlation (as opposed to, say, a quadratic correlation or no correlation whatsoever).
Constellations are patterns created by linking the apparent positions of stars. One could create fake constellations by connecting assorted points.
In this comic, a set of data has had linear regression and some form of statistical analysis applied to it, indicating that there is a slightly significant correlation between the two. However, the data points are so widely-scattered that (as noted in the comic) it is easier to connect the data points in a constellation-like pattern than it is to determine whether the correlation is negative or positive (without looking at the trendline, of course). Because of this, Randall suggests we should be suspicious of any conclusions drawn from this data.
|| This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
panel 1:a scatter plot with many dots and a slightly rising like is presented. the line is red, and the bottom of the panel reads R2=0.06 in red.
panel 2: the same plot, but with new red lines making a constellation of a stick man holding a dog/teapot/cat/???. it says at the bottom of this panel "REXTHOR,THE DOG-BEARER.
beneath both panels is the text "I don't trust linear regressions when its harder to guess the direction of the correlation from the scatter plot than to find new constellations in it."
the title text reads"The 95% confidence interval suggests Rexthor's dog could also be a cat, or possibly a teapot."
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