Quotations Weblog

Books That Make You Dumb

January 25th, 2008 by Laura Moncur in Literature

Virgil GriffithVirgil Griffith took the favorite books on Facebook and linked them to the SAT/ACT scores. In the end, he came up with the books that make you dumb!

Here is some information from his Frequently Asked Questions file:

What are some notable things about the data?

  • Harry Potter is the most popular book. The Bible is the second most popular book. At least among college students, Harry Potter is, like the Beatles, indeed bigger than Jesus.

  • Although I had no idea at the beginning of this project, I was ever so pleased to discover that Caltech is the smartest school in the country (on average).

  • The smartest religious book is the Book of Mormon. The dumbest religious book is The Holy Bible. I’m sure this pleases the Mormons immensely.

  • The dumbest philosophy book is “The Five People You Meet In Heaven” and the smartest philosophy book is “Atlas Shrugged”.

  • Erotica spans the entire distribution, being both the smartest book in the entire dataset (Lolita) as well as the dumbest (Zane).

  • The top/bottom 20 books are remarkably stable. I tried 5 different weighting algorithms and their only variation was in the middle. The dumbest books were always at the bottom, and the smartest books were always on top. This is even further corroborated by the fact that the extremes change remarkably little.

I love to see people looking at different ways to group books. Should Harry Potter be at the top of the list of reading because almost everyone has read it? Should Lolita because it has been read by more smart students? This opens up a huge line of discussion about literature and I’m excited to see it!

Via: Using “favorite books” data from Facebook and the average SAT/ACT scores… kottke.org

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