Yesterday, those noble Nobel fellows, the same committee that honored President Obama—what was it? six, seven days after he assumed office?—, gave this year’s Peace Prize to the European Union. That’s right: the statue, or cup, or whatever it is they bestow, will be given to the bureaucracy in Brussels.

And it’s no surprise. Why? Because those Europeans eat a *lot* of chocolate.

Just you take a look at the following picture, culled from Franz Messerli’s masterful *New England Journal of Medicine*‘s paper Chocolate Consumption, Cognitive Function, and Nobel Laureates (pdf).

It should be obvious, but if not, that horizontal-axis shows chocolate consumption and the vertical-axis shows per-capita Nobel prizes. The more chocolate a nation eats, the more Nobels. The Nobels! There just is no more official designator of truth and goodness.

Masserli says:

There was a close, significant linear correlation (r = 0.791, P<0.0001) between chocolate consumption per capita and the number of Nobel laureates per 10 million persons in a total of 23 countries (Fig. 1).

Look at that astonishingly low p-value! They just don’t come lower than that! That means only one thing: eat enough chocolate and the prize is yours. That’s why the EU won. How could anybody eat more chocolate than twenty-seven entire countries.

I’ll tell you how: twenty-eight or more countries could eat more chocolate. These leads to a statistical predication that next year’s Nobel Peach Prize will go to World. Word is that some are already practicing their part in the acceptance ceremony.

Chocolate can swell the little gray cells—Messerli pegs flavonoids—but our author was on the ball:

A second hypothesis, reverse causation—that is, that enhanced cognitive performance could stimulate countrywide chocolate consumption—must also be considered. It is conceivable that persons with superior cognitive function (i.e., the cognoscenti) are more aware of the health benefits of the flavanols in dark chocolate and are therefore prone to increasing their consumption.

Good news for this hypothesis is that it too is decisively rejected—it also have a disappearingly low p-value. That means it’s true too!

As an afterthought, and in view of complete completeness, Messerli opines (emphasis mine):

Finally, as to a third hypothesis, it is difficult to identify a plausible common denominator that could possibly drive both chocolate consumption and the number of Nobel laureates over many years. Differences in socioeconomic status from country to country and geographic and climatic factors may play some role, but

they fall short of fully explaining the close correlation observed.

Indeed they do fall short, stumbling well before the mark. And why? I’ll tell you: there is no p-value for this obviously offhand hypothesis, this whim. Classical statistics assures us: No p-value, no truth. Therefore, this conjecture *can’t* be so.

**Update** See also Why Do Statisticians Answer Silly Questions That No One Ever Asks?

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In the interest of full disclosure, the paper included the following statement, typical in medical journals: “Dr. Messerli reports regular daily chocolate consumption, mostly but not exclusively in the form of Lindt’s dark varieties.”

*Thanks to @benlauderdale where I first learned of this paper.*

**Note** Given this is the internet and that therefore one can never be certain, we do all know that Messerli is pleased to be jocose?