Berkson’s Paradox
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Suppose that there’s no correlation between talent and attractiveness in the general population (left). A person who studies only celebrities might infer that the two traits are negatively correlated — that attractive people tend to lack talent and talented people tend to lack attractiveness (right). But this is deceiving: People who are neither attractive nor talented don’t typically become celebrities, and that large group of people aren’t represented in the sample. Celebrities tend to have one trait or the other but (unsurprisingly) rarely both.

The phenomenon was studied by Mayo Clinic statistician Joseph Berkson; this example is by CMG Lee.