09/21/2007 | 10:02 am
L.A., New York have most expensive traffic. (Earlier)
U.S. hand washing on the decline. (Earlier)
Homeland Security explores Russian mind-control techniques. (HT: BoingBoing)
“Virtual fence” flops at the border.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
(Will not be published)
The study conducted about hand washing is pretty flawed in terms of being able to compare cities. In Chicago they conducted research at a museum and an aquarium, while in New York they conducted their research at train stations. Aside from the discrepancy in socioeconomic status between the average person at a train station and the average person at a museum you have to conceder what people are going at the actual test sites. No one is having a leisurely stroll around grand central, but they are at museums. A more leisurely environment may cause people to spend more time in the bathroom and therefore more time hand washing. For this study to be able to make cross city comparisons all research should have been done at like venues ( baseball stadiums, train stations)
Mike’s right about comparing across cities, or venues, for that matter. What is interesting is the overall handwashing rate, and the difference between men and women. My undergraduates recently completed a similar study here in San Antonio, and saw a comparable overall rate–76%–but didn’t see any difference between men and women. I suspect our lack of difference is related to venue, since the sampling was done on college campuses.
A more useful survey would include venues as a design element, to see if there are any obvious factors that influence the handwashing rate.
The linked article leads with a perfect example of boneheaded reporting: “Are we becoming a nation of dirty liars?” Economists and survey researchers have long known to be wary of self-reported data, since memory is weak, and most folks are very poor estimators. But of course, if she’d done better than a C in basic stats, she wouldn’t BE a reporter.
Lecturer in Statistics
University of Texas at San Antonio
Sounds like somebody at Homeland Security needs to visit the Skeptic’s Dictionary.
I want to know how Europeans compare. I find that my friends that grew up American are much more obsessed with hand sanitizers, anti-bacterial sprays, etc. But I am not sure of their bathroom behaviors. Could it be that America is making up lack of handwashing outside of the bathroom? Or are American companies responding to our dirtiness?
« Previous Post What's the Future of the Music Industry? A Freakonomics Quorum
Next Post » Paul Krugman Hits the Blogosphere Running
Freakonomics® is a registered service mark of Freakonomics, LLC. All contents © 2011 Freakonomics, LLC. All rights reserved.