Roses are red, violets are blue, and correlation is not causation

Merv emails me this article:

Football clubs with red team strips are more successful than those with other colours, according to a study released Wednesday.

The fact that English clubs Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal regularly top league tables is not a coincidence, say the experts from Durham University and the University of Plymouth.

Red shirts give the team an advantage due to deep-rooted biological response to the colour. "In nature, red is often associated with male aggression and display," they said, giving the example of the red-breasted robin.

"It is a testosterone-driven signal of male quality, and its striking effect has even been harnessed by soldiers in the past," added the researchers, after analyzing data on English football league results since World War II.

The red-breasted robin? That's the most fearsome red beast they can think of?

I can't access the paper, but just reading the abstract is enough to convince me it's bonkers. The authors also have a 2005 paper - in Nature no less - entitled 'Red enhances human performance in contests'. If any reader has a access to Nature, would you be kind enough to email me the article so I can -ahem- review it?


  1. Forrest Says:

    There must be a whole load of natural experiments out there, times when teams have changed their strips either to or from red. It would be really easy to test.