Significance Magazine

Here’s an historical tidbit you may not be aware of. Between the years 1860 and 1940, as the number of Methodist ministers living in New England increased, so too did the amount of Cuban rum imported into Boston–and they both increased in an extremely similar way. Thus, Methodist ministers must have bought up lots of rum in that time period!

Actually no, that’s a silly conclusion to draw. What’s really going on is that both quantities – Methodist ministers and Cuban rum – were driven upwards by other factors, such as population growth.

In reaching that incorrect conclusion, we’ve made the far-too-common mistake of confusing correlation with causation.