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ARTICLE_DATE November, 25 2009 00:01:00
ARTICLE_DATE_STR 20091125
ARTICLE_DESCRIPTION <p>The fuzzy underpinnings of some of our cherished numbers</p>
ARTICLE_ID 589
ARTICLE_STATUS published
ARTICLE_TEXT <ul><li>46 million turkeys will be eaten at Thanksgiving.</li><li>People flying to reach the groaning festive board make this the busiest travel time of the year.</li></ul><p>While the media dutifully and cheerfully trot out these numbers, an <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/numbersguy/turkeys-travel-and-other-thanksgiving-myths-845/">analysis</a> of government, industry, and advocacy&nbsp;statistics suggests that neither claim can be sustained.&nbsp; The turkey number might--or might not--reflect accurately the number of turkey purchased through all of Novermber.&nbsp; Meanwhile, by count of commercial flights, Thanksgiving week is far from the peak annual travel period.</p><p>But then there seems to be something about Thanksgiving that prompts goofy conclusions.&nbsp; Don't blame it on the much-maligned <a href="http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/question519.htm">trytophan</a>, however;&nbsp; that essential amino acid's role is already highly overplayed.&nbsp; The turkey and travel numbers, as well as the <a href="http://www.education-world.com/a_curr/curr040.shtml">thundering controversy</a> about what really did or didn't happen at the First Thanksgiving (even assuming it was the first thanksgiving), will have to be ascribed to some yet-undiscovered cause.&nbsp; The effluvium of rotting Halloween&nbsp;pumpkins?&nbsp; Cosmic disturbances directly attributable to football&nbsp;tailgate parties?&nbsp; Please, somebody, apply for a <a href="http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=papp">National Science Foundation grant</a> and let's get this cleared up!</p>
ARTICLE_TITLE Thanksgiving Mythology
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Business

Thanksgiving Mythology

  • 46 million turkeys will be eaten at Thanksgiving.
  • People flying to reach the groaning festive board make this the busiest travel time of the year.

While the media dutifully and cheerfully trot out these numbers, an analysis of government, industry, and advocacy statistics suggests that neither claim can be sustained.  The turkey number might--or might not--reflect accurately the number of turkey purchased through all of Novermber.  Meanwhile, by count of commercial flights, Thanksgiving week is far from the peak annual travel period.

But then there seems to be something about Thanksgiving that prompts goofy conclusions.  Don't blame it on the much-maligned trytophan, however;  that essential amino acid's role is already highly overplayed.  The turkey and travel numbers, as well as the thundering controversy about what really did or didn't happen at the First Thanksgiving (even assuming it was the first thanksgiving), will have to be ascribed to some yet-undiscovered cause.  The effluvium of rotting Halloween pumpkins?  Cosmic disturbances directly attributable to football tailgate parties?  Please, somebody, apply for a National Science Foundation grant and let's get this cleared up!


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