ICYMI, earlier this week the nerds at Princeton University produced a study comparing social networks to viruses and predicting that Facebook would become a virtual ghost town by 2017 via dubious growth model data. It got a lot of attention for turning all those “Facebook is doomed” stories into “real science.”
Of course the Facebook team noticed it too—and yesterday data scientist Mike Develin responded with a “study” of his own that provides us with a pretty cool example of less-than-traditional damage control.
Develin and his fellow scientists created their own series of charts graphing, for example, the number of studies released by Princeton compared to its Google search rankings. Using the “correlation = causation” principle, they predicted (in jest) that the school’s student body would decline by 50% by 2018—and that it wouldn’t have any students at all by 2021.
“Based on our robust scientific analysis, future generations will only be able to imagine this now-rubble institution that once walked this earth.”
Ha ha. In case it wasn’t clear that this was a joke, they included this nugget near the end of the post:
“While we are concerned for Princeton University, we are even more concerned about the fate of the planet—Google Trends for “air” have also been declining steadily, and our projections show that by the year 2060 there will be no air left”
We don’t see PR’s fingerprints anywhere on the post itself, though it’s worth asking how The Wall Street Journal and every major tech blog picked up on it last night…