“Why does every woman have to talk on her cell phone while driving?”
“That’s pretty chauvinistic, don’t you think?”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because just as many men talk on their cell phones as women do.”
I thought I was right, but I have been known to be wrong in the past.
Lots of times.
But I haven’t been wrong for at least a week, so I decided to go test my theory; let’s see who talks more on a cell phone while driving.
Men or Women?
Unfortunately I lived on one of the busiest streets in all of Utah. Midland drive. Anyone reading this post from the Ogden area of Utah can attest to this claim.
The good news? The experiment could be conducted sitting in my driveway with a cooler full of beer.
On a typical workday, from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm, six thousand cars pass by my front yard. Yes, that is what I said – 6000. I can tend to exaggerate from time to time, but this is a proven fact.
I know because I counted them.
I used two hand tally counters like you might use to keep track of your golf shots. One in the right hand and one in the left. When a woman drove by talking on her cell phone, I clicked the right-hand counter. When a man was babbling, a click on the left.
I was tempted to keep track of the number of women talking on their cell phone and
applying makeup at the same time, but that was too much to keep track of. This additional tally would greatly hinder the beer drinking, which for scientific purposes was unacceptable.
The “cell phone/make up experiment” would have to wait for another day.
I didn’t want to look at the counters until the experiment was over. This is highly scientific stuff and I didn’t want to induce any Hawthorne Effect into the results.
At 7:00 pm, the clickers were compared side by side.
Of the 6000 total drivers, 50% were male and 50% were female.
Right-hand clicks = Women = 592
Left-hand clicks = Men = 605
After running a statistical T-test on the two numbers, the results were inescapable;
The number of men vs. women, who babble on cell phones, while driving, are the same.
About 20% for each.
My wife was right.
Although this study is obviously worthy of a Scientific American Award, the point of this article is not really about cell phones.
It is about going out and testing things instead of assuming you’re right.
Whenever my students and/or employees have a new idea for a product, service, or improvement, I ask them to put together a simple pilot program. Make it quick and easy.
“How can you fail in 2 weeks?” I say.
When I propose it to people that way, it gets them to think from a different viewpoint. Instead of a long and expensive test program, they have to figure out how to run a low-cost, simple 2-week experiment.
Let’s face it; I solved one of the most pressing social issues of the day with just a 2-hour driveway experiment.
In Aerospace we had a couple of phrases we used;
“Opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one.”
“In God we trust, all others bring data.”
Before you launch your next major project, how can you test your theory with a low cost pilot program?
p.s. Some people still insist I should get a real job or that I have too much free time on my hands. These simple souls are incapable of realizing the great service I am providing to mankind. It’s not their fault; so please let them be.