html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Correlation is not causation.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Correlation is not causation.

I was a pretty naïve sophomore when I moved into a sixty-person, vegetarian, clothing-optional co-op. I never entirely fit in, but it was an easy, tolerant place for me to grow up. My closest friends are still from Loth. When I first got there, though, there was a lot to the culture I didn’t understand.

There were half a dozen men in the house who always had one pant leg rolled up, and I just couldn’t figure out why. I must have worked on that for weeks. I watched them, and I thought about it, and I just kept at it. Why did they always have one pant leg rolled up?

Finally one day I put it together. I finally noticed that the five or six guys with one pant leg up were not the manliest men in this house full of sweet hippies. That was it!! They were bi! It made perfect sense … one pant leg up, one pant leg down … a little something for everyone.

And I was good with that. I never mentioned it to anyone, ‘cause I didn’t want to admit that I hadn’t known that one rolled pant leg meant you were bi. Really, I mostly forgot about it. Solving the secret code meant that it wasn’t interesting anymore, and I’ve never cared who anyone sleeps with.

Years later, at a different school, I rode my bike up to my early morning class, locked it real quick, and reached down to unroll my pant leg. Oh holy shit. I must have stood there in shock for thirty seconds. I had been so sure, and so serenely wrong, for years.

I guess I'll say two things in my defense. First, it was internally consistent and it fit the evidence. Second, it is no stupider than using an earring to announce a preference for boys.

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Blogger Cladeedah said...

That is so funny. Reminds me of that episode of This American Life - where people admitted to misperceptions they had as adults.

One lady didn't know unicorns were imaginary until she asked whether they were extinct or endangered at a party. Another guy thought you could only participate in the Nielson ratings if your last name was Nielson. It was a great episode. The things we learn every day...

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Trieu said...

I noticed this a few years back among young black and Latino men in Boston. I used to ride my bike around and roll up the chain-side pant leg. But these gentlemen weren't carrying bike helmets, or bags of any sort, and just seemed to be walking from one place to another. So I assumed it was a fashion thing. But maybe it was something else altogether.

(You'll probably never see this comment. I'm reading your blog from the beginning.)

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Amelia said...

You'll probably never see this comment. I'm reading your blog from the beginning.

Wow, I do that, too! I usually resist the urge to comment, though...

4:58 PM  
Anonymous trieu said...


This is like leaving random notes in the obscure surfaces of public places, but without the rain.

1:01 AM  
Blogger Cyrus said...

(You'll probably never see this comment. I'm reading your blog from the beginning.)

Heh, how many people are doing this? I'm commenting on June 6, 2007, for reference...

Speaking as a guy who wanted to get some kind of body art while all my other friends were doing the same, but wimping out on getting a tattoo but not having a really interesting ideo for one anyway, I remember putting a lot of time into trying to figure out exactly which ear it was safe to get pierced.

8:20 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

WOW! I just found this, June 28th 2007. You guys are awesome.

7:56 AM  

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