Mistaking correlation for causation isn’t necessarily wise. It is, though, the main subject of this piece. Let’s back track a little before getting too nerdy. Reddit, the self-proclaimed front page of the internet, has oodles and oodles of information on it. The community-based message board provides us with kitchen and dining hacks. They also provide you with invaluable information you didn’t know you needed. For instance, they put together a list of foods people love to hate.
Our favorite (albeit a morbid favorite) item we’ve seen recently has to do with death. One Reddit user created a map which correlates cardiac-related deaths with Waffle House locations.
As you can see, the actual data is pretty astounding. As one commenter points out, we can’t mistake correlation for causation. That said, there has to be some takeaway here.
No, we don’t think that PolarisOrbit is right. Cardiac deaths obviously don’t cause Waffle Houses.
The opposite of that, though, is also untrue. Waffle Houses don’t directly cause cardiac deaths. What this map shows us must have to do with location in a more general sense.
There’s no denying that the Waffle House base is in the east. We see a few out in Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona, but, truthfully, eastern Texas is as far as the breakfast chain’s grip truly reaches.
There are dozens of locations through the American southeast. Waffle Houses dot the Gulf coast, and they extend as far north as Pennsylvania. That said, what differs between a state like Alabama and, say, Oregon?
Cardiac-related deaths are much more prevalent in the east. It’s not a population density thing, as California has both no Waffle House locations and very few instances of heart-related death. We’re chalking it up to a lifestyle thing.
To say that everyone in the west lives this way and everyone in the east lives that way would be ignorant. You can see, though, that this arguably unhealthy breakfast chain is focused much more in the east. With that in mind, it seems to go along with a lifestyle that, ultimately, leads to more heart disease and cardiac-related death.
We’re not doctors, though. We’re just trying to connect the dots. We’d love to see a more current map, as this one is based on 2013 data. Does the same correlation still ring true? Have any ideas on this one? We’d love to know.