Numbers Don't Lie

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Dream wildest dreams

In her new book, The Mind at Night: The New Science of How and Why We Dream, author Andrea Rock (an award-winning medical and science reporter) presented the first-ever systematic study of dream content among people the world over, begun in the 1980s.
It turned out that people in small tribal societies tend to have the greatest proportion of physical aggression in their dreams, with the highest reports among the Yir Yiront, an Australian Aboriginal group for whom 92 percent of dream interactions were aggressive—defined to include everything form aggressive feelings to nasty remarks to physical attacks on possessions. Among industrialized societies studied, however, Americans ranked highest for aggression in dreams, with scores of 50% for U.S. males (34 percent for females) versus 29 percent for Swiss men and 32 percent for Dutch men.


Male brain and female brain

I got above brain maps from a friend. I have no idea whether those maps have any scientific studies to backup or not, but I did what I could - by my very difficult measurement, the ratio of male's 'Lame excuses gland" area over "toilet aiming cell" is about 400 - 500. For female, the ratio of "impulse shopping" area over "realization of wants vs. needs" is about 700 - 800.


Sunday, February 26, 2006

Who cares about moral suitability ?

1) according to a recently news, romance novels for women get frankly more sexual. In those books, there doesn't need to be that period of wooing, the developing of emotions, like those in mother's romance novels. If the heroine sees a guy she wants to sleep with, she's just going to go after him. Since the US's major bookstore Borders began carrying women's erotica in summer 2004, growth has been more than 10%, higher than any other genre of books.
2) when asked, "in your opinion, has the use of profanity in the workplace increased over the last five years?" 54% of 40,000 professinal women said Yes, 29% said No, 17% unsure. (source: WorldWIT Inc., Boulder, Colo.)
3) there's a trend toward ratings creep in the movie industry. Movies used to be rated PG-13 few years ago are now rated PG.


Saturday, February 25, 2006

World population hit 6.5 billion today

Today, Saturday, Feb. 25 of 2006, the population here on this good Earth is projected to hit 6.5 billion people, roughly double its size in 1960. Some six years from now, on Oct. 18, 2012, the Earth will be home to 7 billion folks. When last estimated in 2002, there were 261 people born every minute.


Males gain weight while their mates are pregnant

In a recent study published in Biology Letters, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison showed that male tamarins and marmosets—two monkey species known for their long tails and multicolored coats of fine fur—gain weight while their mates are pregnant. The researchers believe these monkeys put on the pounds to prime themselves for their future fatherly duties.
One researcher says all the males gained weight during a mate's pregnancy. Although the amount varied from monkey to monkey, the average gain was around a 10% increase in girth. Male monkeys also showed increased levels of hormones such as prolactin, estrogen and testosterone.
Human males also complain of weight gain during a partner's pregnancy. However, according to researcher, it is unclear whether the weight gain in humans serves the same biological purpose—storing energy for carrying and caring for infants—as it does in monkeys.
(I don't know why the researcher is so unclear on this. Isn't obvious that the men of our species are storing up the energy so that they can change baby diapers throughout the night ?).


Friday, February 24, 2006

Optimism prolongs life

Mounting research shows and continues to show that optimism could extend people's life. The latest study came from Wageningn University in the Netherlands. For 999 elderly Dutch men and women, agreement with statement such as " I still have many goals to strive for" was highly predictive for longevity. When subjects were traced 9 years after being surveyed, considering all other factors in life, death rates of optimistic men were 63% lower than those of their pouty peers; for women, optimism reduced rate by 35%. The reason? Optimistic people avoided many un-healthy life choices.
Source: Scientific American Mind, Feb./Mar. 2006.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

The most common street name in US

The last time the US Census Bureau counted, the most popular street name, curiously, was the '2nd street'. My address street, Elm, ranked as the 15th most common name.


Money matters

If you live in US and earn a below-six-figure salary, you have been feeling and living the numbers below -
1) in US, the health care cost has been steadily increasing in the last few years, at the speed of 7% annually. The health care right now is the 16% of total US economy; many experts predict that in another 10 years, health care will be 20% of total US economy, the single biggest sector.
2) between 2004 and 2001, the average family income decreased about 2%, according to the latest US Federal Reserve report.

Source: heard from radio station wbbm780. Feb 23, 2006


Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Martha Stewart has spoken out on the failure of her NBC reality show, claiming the only reason her series flopped was because the Donald Trump's The Apprentice show gobbled up too much airtime.
Donald Trump's reality show is such a hit that applications for The Apprentice 3 has reached 1 million. In comparison, applications for Harvard Business School's Class of 2007 is 6552.


Sunday, February 19, 2006

World's worst savers

Here it goes again - according to the most-recent ACNeilson survey, American's are the absolute worst savers among all developed countries (42 countries included, and Portugal follows at a close second).
Almost 1/4 of our nation lives paycheck to paycheck, and if they do have any left over, you can bet it doesn't go into a savings account. And just to put this number in perspective, only 3% of the population in Thailand are incapable of saving.
We are up to our eyeballs in debt. The average American has approx. $8,000 in credit card debt, not to mention other loans.


Why we like to work from home ?

Only 14% of 2,450 employees surveyed said they put in a full eight hours doing their office work when working from home. 25% indicated that they spend less than 1 hour working, and 53% said they spend less than 3 hours.
Source: Careerbuilder Inc. Chicago


Friday, February 17, 2006

Who do we trust ?

Worldwide, people are less and less willing to trust top-down messages delivered through mass media.

In 6 of the 11 countries recently surveyed, the "person like yourself or your peer" is seen as the most credible spokesperson about a company and among the top three spokespeople in every country surveyed. This has advanced steadily over the past three years.
In the US, for example, the "person like yourself or your peer" was only trusted by 22% of respondents as recently as 2003, while in this year's study, 68% of respondents said they trusted a peer. Contrast to that the CEO, who ranks in the bottom half of credible sources in all countries, at 28% trust in the US, near the level of lawyers and legislators. In China, the "person like yourself or your peer" is trusted by 54% of respondents, compared to the next highest spokesperson, a doctor, at 43%.

I am surprised to see that more people in US than in China trust peers more than authorities. China has been considered as a low-trust society, and US is a high-trust society. Number above shows the trust level in US has eroded in recent years.

Also in the above survey, "friends and family" and "colleagues" rank as two of the three most credible sources for information about a company, just behind articles in business magazines. Again, in the US, the "colleagues" number has jumped from 38% in 2003 to 56% in 2006.

Source link


Thursday, February 16, 2006

How long does it take for trash to biodegrade ?

Many household trash take much longer to biodegrade than you thought. In general, organic waste tend to decompose quickly in landfills, but if they are overly compressed, like plastic bottle or bags which seal out oxygen and soil microbes, then they are even tougher than inorganic materials.
How long does it take for trash to biodegrade ?
Plastic soda bottles ............ forever
Glass bottles ............ 1 million years
Batteries ............ 100 years
Aluminum + tin cans ............ 50 to 100 years
Plastic bags ............ 10 to 20 years
Orange peel ............ 6 months
Paper ............ 2 to 5 months

Source link


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Why Republicans are happier than Democrats ?

The recent Pew poll confirms a 30 plus years, longstanding trend: Republicans say they are happier than Democrats. This year, 45% of Republicans said they were “very” happy as opposed to 29% of Democrats. That’s a big gap.

What make people happy? After using statistical technique known as multiple regression analysis (which gauges the relationship between each factor and happiness while controlling for all the other factors), the analysis shows that the most important factors to happiness are good health, decent income, high church attendance, being married and, yes, being a Republican. So the conclusion is this - happiness is probably connected to some other facet of life that also inclines people to be Republicans.


The corruption of nations

Nearly 50% of the world's nations are corrupt -- according to the Transparency International and a German-based think tank at the University of Passau.
"In some nations, the corruption is as basic as greasing the palms of the village police chief to let a bar stay open an hour past the regular closing time, or paying off a telephone company clerk to expedite installation of a phone line. In other cases, corruption means millions in payoffs, often to secret foreign-bank accounts, where development funds are siphoned that should have been used to expedite roads, schools, bridges or basic health and sanitary facilities designed to improve the lives of their people. "
However, there is doubt that corruption causes great harm to national economies, reports Jakob Svensson, an economist at the World Bank and Stockholm University. "China has been able to grow fast while being ranked among the most corrupt countries," Svensson notes.
Harvard University's Samuel Huntington argued that briberty and other shady practices have a bright side, helping firm operate efficiently in countries hampered by heavy-handed bureaucracies.
Source: "Eight Questions About Corruption", Journal of Economics Perspectives", Summer 2005.


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Can contact sports cause clinical depression ?

Football games give fans such hypes and joys, but it caused some players taking antidepressants pills.
Since deaths caused by this sport in US have now dropped to single digits, scientist more and more focused on subtle trauma, especially concussions ( an injury to soft tissues, especially the brain, resulting from a violent blow). Preliminary results show that even a minor ding can trigger a neurological cascade that can eventually cause cognitive dysfunction and mental illness. Among retired football players who have sustained 3 or more concussions, 20% have been diagnosed with clinical depression - more than 3 times the rate of players who never got a concussions, almost 50% of those are taking antidepressants medication, and most report that the condition impedes their normal daily activities, such as shopping for groceries and going to work.
Football is the most dangerous game when compare with other sports. In 2002-2003, for every 1000 athletes, every game played, there are 3.52 concussions. The same number dropped to 2.0 for ice hockey, 1.8 for women's soccer, and 1.12 for men's soccer.
Source: Discover, Dec. 2004.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Your IQ, wealth and health

Your childhood IQ could predict your wealth and longevity.

The fact that on average, higher IQ makes you richer is well documented. For example, a 1992 American Enterprise Institute research studied 1,704 pairs of siblings, found that the brighter ones earned an average of $33,500, while the less-smart ones made on average $20,000--a 67 percent disparity. (In today's dollars, this is about $45,367 to $27,000.)
I don't have numbers handy yet, but high IQ people do live healthier lives. This may because high IQ people know how to taking care of themselves better. Consider this - Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Jan. 2004), reported that masses of people can't follow their drug prescriptions correctly. Of the 1.8 billion prescriptions made, 50% are incorrectly taken. It's possible that people just don't understand the instructions. After all, in the United States, 11 million people or 5% adults can't read English. How can you live long if you can't even read prescriptions right ?


Friday, February 10, 2006

State of the Blogosphere

This month (Feb. 2006), there are several surveys released on the current status of blogsphere. Here are some numbers to throw out at you -
1) the Gallup Poll organization has released a new survey showing 20% of Americans read blogs. Since blogs barely existed until recently, the figure was less than instant messaging (28%), auctions (23%), videocasts and downloading music (22%). Interestingly, 24% of men read blogs where as only 17% of women read them.
2) according to Technorati's 'State of the Blogosphere report', although a new weblog is created every 1 second of every day, 9% of new blogs are spam or machine generated, and 13.7 million bloggers are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Young generation's health

I am 44 years old. When my wife and I were young (under 18), we didn't know any friend who had asthma or autism. Now, God knows why, both of my kids (6 and 10 years old) have asthma. One of my high-school friends has a 8-year old son being treated for autism. According to US scientists and public health officials, our young generation are suffering from epidemics of obesity, asthma, diabetes and autism. Environmental factors have been playing major roles in this.
In fact, over past several hundreds of years, for the 1st time ever, our young generation are less healthier than their parent.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Suicide by the numbers

In the book 'Why people die by suicide' , author Thomas Joiner briskly summarizes reams of studies on self-killing:
1) in most countries, men are about 4 times more likely than women to die by suicide; only in China do female suicides outnumber male ones;
2) in United States, Caucasians commit suicide at about twice the rate of African Americans;
3) your suicide risk is also higher if you're a physician, divorced, or elderly, if you live in rural county, if you've moved during the last year, if you regularly suffer from nightmares, or if you have tattoos.


How much does a human soul weigh ?

Does the human soul exist, and if so, how much does it weigh ? To find out, surgeon Duncan Macdougall devised a grief experiment in Dorchester, Massachusetts, in April 1901. He placed a dying tuberculosis patient on a platform scale rigged with a cot. At the moment of death, Duncan Macdougall hypothesized, the scale should register a drop in weight when ghost shelled off its earthly body. Their first patient in place, Macdougall and his team took up their grim posts, assumed an air of breathless, intent expectancy. The first patient's soul clocked in, or rather, out, at 21 grams.
Sadly, Macdougall never managed to duplicate that data later.

Source: "Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife" by Mary Roach


Monday, February 06, 2006

Who's the greatest artist of the 20th century?

Picasso was by far the greatest artist of the 20th century. How to proof this ? An economist recently demonstrated that if you round up every art history textbook of the past 15 years and see whose art is reproduced most frequently, then Picasso, with 395 illustrations in 33 textbooks, scores nearly as many as his three closest rivals (Matisse, Duchamp, and Mondrian) put together.


Sunday, February 05, 2006

Super Bowl XL Stats

$83,333 - the average cost of 1 second commercial during Super Bowl XL today.
Based on BMI (Body Mass Index), 56% of NFL player are obese. (source: JAMA)


Saturday, February 04, 2006

Why they call it HIGHER education ?

A Swedish study suggests taller boys get longer educations. Height was measured at age 18; additional years of education were measured afterward. Researcher's findings: 1) the probability of achieving higher education in later life increases linearly with height; 2) men taller than 194 cm (6 ft 4 in) were 2-3 times more likely to obtain a higher education when compared with men shorter than 165 cm. The correlation persisted when IQ and social background were factored out. Researchers' explanations: we discriminate against short kids by expecting less of them.

Now I know why they call it HIGHER education.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Does HARRY POTTER keep kids out of trouble ?

Emergency room visits declined by more than 40% during the weekends that the last two Harry Potter books in the series launched.
Source: British Medical Journal, Dec. 2005.

(my 10 year old son read the last book 16 hours (almost) non-stop on that weekend.


How many friends can a average person keep ?

150, according to Dunbar, an anthropologist at the University College of London. Dunbar wrote a paper on Co-Evolution Of Neocortex Size, Group Size And Language In Humans where he theorized:
... there is a cognitive limit to the number of individuals with whom any one person can maintain stable relationships, that this limit is a direct function of relative neocortex size, and that this in turn limits group size ... the limit imposed by neocortical processing capacity is simply on the number of individuals with whom a stable inter-personal relationship can be maintained.
This number of 150 has become "Dunbar's Number" and has been taken as a mean size for many kinds of effctive social groups. This number was also cited by several recent books, including Malcolm Gladwell's best seller The Tipping Point.


How many ways can you tie a tie ?

After employing the analytical tools of topological (and geometric) knot theory and statistical mechanics, two mathematicians from Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge (UK) identified the maximal of 85 ways to tie a tie (given natural constraints) in 1999. Their mathematical model duly predicted the 4 knots (Four-in-Hand, Duke of Windsor, Half-Windsor, and Pratt knot revealed in 1989) in widespread use, and further introduced 9 new aesthetic ones.

As a men, I think those 2 have performed a great service for civilization, doing for tie-knot tying what Isaac Newton did for the motion of the heavens.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Lunar New Year's Long March

2 billion trips were made by Chinese to see families during the lunar New Year holiday, which began Jan. 29 - the largest annual migration of humans. Trains are still the main transportation tools. 50% seasonal jump in adult diaper sales in some Chinese stores because of limited toilet access on packed trains.
Source: Xinhua