Not a meaningful statistic

It was with the usual skepticism that I started reading the latest issue`s Howard Farran article. Howard tends to shoot first and think later, but this one started out well with the "flossing religiously" joke. I kept reading until I got to the statement that "... the average American logs in around 3,600 hours per year of television-viewing, and this number has been holding very steady for the last two decades."

It was with the usual skepticism that I started reading the latest issue`s Howard Farran article. Howard tends to shoot first and think later, but this one started out well with the "flossing religiously" joke. I kept reading until I got to the statement that "... the average American logs in around 3,600 hours per year of television-viewing, and this number has been holding very steady for the last two decades."

Hmmm. Wonder what study that came from? That`s 10 hours per day of TV-watching. I can see small children and a few disabled persons getting 10 hours a day of tube time, but anyone with a job is going to have a tough time locating 70 hours per week to do anything. Maybe those lawyers who bill 178 hours per week can do it, but not the rest of us.

Now, I`m sure this is a real statistic, meaning someone published it somewhere - maybe in the Journal of Irreproducible Results - but it`s not a meaningful statistic. Just what is meant by the "average American" is not clear, and the sampling technique is suspect, to say the least. I suspect this statistic is useful only for shoot-first-and-think-later-type articles. And true to form, the rest of the article was vintage Farran - mildly entertaining, but not something I will use tomorrow with my patients ... kind of like his statistic.

David T. Chuljian, DDS

Port Townsend, WA

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