Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Thanks, Pitchfork, for bringing this to my attention:

This chart is the brainchild of Caltech grad student Virgil Griffith. He created this thing called the WikiScanner, which can trace any ridiculous edit that anyone makes to Wikipedia, despite the fact that they're kind of supposed to be anonymous. Pretty awesome, right?

Anyway, this chart is called "Music That Makes You Dumb." Virgil apparently took a ton of information from Facebook (the most scientific of all things) from people about their favorite music. Then, he compared that with the average SAT scores from the schools that they came from, and made this chart. He did it with books as well.

Take a look at this thing. Beethoven corresponds with the highest SAT scores, which isn't really a surprise to me. After those, we have Sufjan Stevens, the Counting Crows, Guster, Radiohead, U2, Ben Folds, and Bob Dylan before the chart starts to jumble up a bit. At the other end, with the lowest average SAT scores, we have *snicker* people who listen to Weezy.

I should probably feel vindicated in my musical taste by this chart's existence. After all, I'm really into Sufjan and Radiohead, and it's a real possibility to me that Nickelback (average SAT score under 1000) is the worst band that has ever existed. And yet, I can't help but think of how idiotic this chart is.

Easy proof lies in the book chart, where people who have "The Bible" listed apparently average a higher SAT than people who have "The Holy Bible" listed. Very obviously, these are the same book. Very obviously, how that book is listed should have no bearing on one's score on a test.

In addition, I don't know how many people even know what soca music is, but the chart suggests that only idiots listen to it. For that matter, it appears that only idiots limit themselves to genres, according to Virgil's master chart.

Also, I kind of like T.I. and Justin Timberlake, two people that are pretty low on the scale, and those aren't the only ones down there.

I go to NYU, whose student body would largely be made up of the higher end of this chart, SAT-score wise, and yet, I can't begin to count how many people I know here who know the dance from "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" by Beyonce. I also hesitate to think that this is an exception instead of the norm.

Obviously, there are plenty of people with low SAT scores who like Radiohead and U2, and plenty of people with incredible SATs that love Lil Wayne. Trust me, I go to school with half of them. Musical taste and actual intelligence are totally separate, and Virgil is kind of ridiculous.

That's about it, other than this completely unrelated tidbit: Marcy Playground is apparently playing a mere block from my dorm tonight. MARCY PLAYGROUND! SEX AND CANDY!

Quick, name another Marcy Playground song. I can't do it either. But, this concert can't be more than $4. I may go just to go.

Enclosed is Sex and Candy, as well as a Sufjan outtake and a Justin Timberlake song that's kind of awesome.


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  1. w/r/t the bible/holy bible issue. I think which title you choose to address it by may in fact have some effect. I would guess, with nothing but intuition to back me up, that your average, moderate-persuasion christian, (in addition to nonreligious people who just take an interest in religious texts or whatev) would refer to it as just 'the bible', while more hardcore, fringe christians, who go to faith healings and megachurches, would call it 'the holy bible.' These fringe group people are more likely to be home schooled because their parents don't want them to be taught the heresy of evolution, and, since it is unlikely that their parents are teachers by trade, they probably did poorly on their sats when compared to those who attended real high schools. while public high schools may not be the best, i feel that at the very least, the teachers will teach to the test as necessary, and those students that wish to go to college would probably seek additional sat tutoring, which the fundamentalist christians would probably shirk b/c of the devil. This is all conjecture of course, but I think there is a good chance that it is correct. regardless, i am not sold on the study, due to the fact that it is using facebook data. People could put musical tastes on there just to appear cool and/or hip to other people(as i stalkerishly recall you essentially doing on myspace[you mentioned it in a facebook note too, that is primarily why i remember.] I am not putting you down btw, because we all did stupid things on myspace that we would like to forget.) i lost my train of thought, so i will close by saying that i wish that chart included an entry for 'anything but rap and country lol.'

    -David Oakley, internet procrastinator

  2. Dave, I'm astonishingly proud of you. Well done.