Musicthatmakesyoudumb

by Virgil Griffith      virgil at caltech dot edu

Hello WSJ, Guardian, AssociatedContent, PasadenaNow, mtv.de, PrefixMag, Washington Post, pitchfork, steamboatpilot, TMZ, PatrolMag, beatcrave, Times of India, news.com.au, popsci.com.au, straitstimes, New Yorker, NME, Daily Star, bet.com, earbender.com, digital inspiration, musictoob, Entertainment & ShowBiz, Black Voices, sohh, Mr. Science Show, Articulate, Villanovan, telegraph.co.uk, more telegraph.co.uk, this is real music, hollywoodlife, examiner, Canberra Times readers!

See also Booksthatmakeyoudumb

[ The Pics ] [ The Music ] [ The Schools ] [ The FAQ ] [ The Comments ]


I've listened to artists who after listening to I thought to myself "Wow... loving this rubbish says a lot about someone and how much they got going on in their head." Could one's musical tastes say something about intelligence? How about SAT scores? Well, like any good scientist, I decided to see how well my personal experience matches reality. How might one do this?

Well, here's one idea.

  1. Get a friend of yours to download, using Facebook, the ten most frequent "favorite music" at every college via that college's Network Statistics page on Facebook (manually -- as not to violate Facebook's ToS). These ten "favorite musics" are perhaps indicative of the overall intellectual milieu of that college.
  2. Download the average SAT/ACT score (from CollegeBoard) for students attending every college.
  3. Presto! We have a correlation between musical tastes and dumbitude (smartitude too)!
    Music <=> Colleges <=> Average SAT Scores
  4. Plot the average SAT of each "favorite music", discarding those with too few samples to have a reliable average.
  5. Post the results on your website, pondering what the Internet will think of it.
Yes, I'm aware correlation ≠ causation. The results are hilarity incarnate regardless of causality.
You can stop sending me email about this distinction. Thanks.

Average SAT (with standard error) for the 133 most popular entries for "favorite music" on facebook. The vertical axis doesn't mean anything.
The Music has details on the data plotted here. Curious how a particular "favorite music" acquired its rating? See the musicdetails for that entry, such as this one for Radiohead.


big / huge
Graph also available sorted by genre


<--- CompactStacked---->
big / huge




Browsing the 133 most popular (out of 1,455) favorite music from 1,352 schools. Mean SAT across the schools is 1071 out of 1600.

Special thanks to Peter Burns, Christin Montz, and Liz Wang

Booksthatmakeyoudumb ]