Spurious Correlations in Climate Science

Thongchai Thailand

You know who Charles Darwin is of course but you may not have heard of his mad cousin Francis Galton who did the math for Darwin’s theory of evolution. Two of the many procedures Sir Galton came up with to help him make sense of the data are still used today and are possibly the two most widely used tools in all of statistics. They are ordinary least squares (OLS) linear regression and OLS correlation. [Soon after these amazing mathematical innovations, Sir Galton retired from the evolution business and devoted the rest of his life to making the perfect cup of tea.]

Both of these statistics are measures of a linear relationship between two variables X and Y. The linear regression coefficient B of Y against X is a measure of how much Y changes on average for a unit change in X and the linear correlation R is a…

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