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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 21-Oct-11

 


Friday 21-October-11

The fame curve

Jamie Davies, a researcher in Edinburgh University, did a strange experiment. He correlated the success of academics, as measured by the number of times that other academics referenced their papers, with 50 years of pop star success, as measured by the time their records spent in the chart.

And guess what: they correlated very nicely. In fact both fitted along a 'stretched exponential' curve, with a few famous folks and a long tail of also-rans.

Only a few people stood out with different patterns. Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard were included in these, which is probably apposite as this statistical pattern is called the 'King effect'.

So if you're seeking fame, there's a long, long queue to ultimate stardom. But once you get there, like climbing a mountain, you can turn around and marvel at how far and how high you have come. And once on top of the mountain, a few, just a few people are able to clamber into the space rocket and ascend into the heavens.

Reference:
Davies, J, (2002). The individual success of musicians, like that of physicists, follows a stretched exponential distribution,  European Physical Journal B. B 27, 445-447 (2002)

 


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