First, the question:
Auto response from [Josh]: The last poll's results: The best song of the 80s is Take On Me! Now, something that just became an issue of controversy in my suite: When you're in the shower, do you spend most of the time facing the water, or facing away from it? Let me know!
I first got the idea for an away message poll from my friend Mara, who had one up about a week prior to this experiment, regarding the pronounciation of "Tevas," a brand of Israeli sandals. Inspired by this, I posted a multiple choice poll on the night of 12/10/00 asking people to vote for their favorite song from the 80s. This was a bit of a failure, as most people seemed not to agree with any of the choices offered.
The following night, as I was toying with the idea of having another poll, my roommate Justin and I were inexplicably discussing the fact that the shower in our suite is connected by a hose to the water source, since our suite is wheelchair-accessible. He mentioned that this enables him to wash his back without turning around. I accepted this for several seconds, and then nearly choked, as I realized the implications of this statement.
I asked him which way he faces in the shower, and he replied that he naturally faces toward the water. I responded that I do not, much to his astonishment, and that I myself was surprised that anyone faced in a direction other than that directly away from the water source.
We both immediately solicited the opinions of other people standing nearby, and began to debate the merits of one method versus the other, as well as appearances of one or the other in the media. These arguments continued for hours, but by then, the decision to make this another away message poll was final.
The poll was posted around 9:00pm that night, 12/11/00.
The final results are, surprisingly enough, a dead heat. Exactly 50% of respondants prefer each of the two options, with a few abstentions due to either people not remembering which way they face, or them not having a usual preference. I debated throwing out a few votes that were either cast by word of mouth through several people, or were cast begrudgingly. However, as I had no real reason to do so, and as these disqualifications would skew the results in favor of my personal preference, I opted to count all votes received.
First, the most revealing result is the number of people surprised by the fact that not everyone faces the same way. I did not gather specific data on this point, but many people with whom I discussed this topic, including myself, were amazed that their preferred method was not the only way to go. So the main benefit of this statistical analysis is to bring about this realization.
On a hunch by my roommate and another by his then-girlfriend, I decided to do a further stastical analysis of the results, correlated with religion and gender. The results were rather astonishing. As they both suspected, both females and Jews are more likely to face away from the water, and in fact, of all respondants, there was only one Jewish female who preferred to face the water. The converse is true as well: All but one of the nine non-Jewish male respondants face the current. (Coincidentally, or perhaps not, this one person was the only of the nine that is not Christian, to my knowledge.)
Taking these two criterium seperately, the Jewish vote was 82% in favor of facing away. The non-Jewish vote was 73% for facing towards. The male vote was 69% in favor of facing towards. And the female vote was 69% for facing away.
I have no scientific basis for any explanation of these trends, however, I will make an anzatz
Areas for further research, and other notes(Or, in non-academic terms, things I did wrong)
- The sample space for this poll was rather small, and thus all differences in the vote are well within any mathematical margin of error. However, as this poll was intended to be simply a recreation, I do not see this as a problem. (There were 30 votes cast, and of them, 4 did not indicate a preference, or were otherwise counted as abstentions.)
- Inspired by this poll, shafted.org posted the same poll, and achieved vastly different results. (At the time of this writing, the results are 29 votes for facing the showerhead, and 11 votes for facing away.) However, there is no mechanism in place to prevent multiple votes by one person. I choose not to count a poll with potential ballot-stuffing, such as this one, as canonical.
- My sampling method was rather unscientific. The poll was primarily conducted as an away message on my AOL Instant Messanger screenname, from approximately 9:00pm EST on 12/11/00 until 7:00pm on 12/12/00. Most votes were cast via an instant message to me, whereas some were delivered verbally and in person. Few votes were solicited, and every effort was made to insure that any solicitor did not know the outcome of any solicited votes before requesting them. In other words, I think the sampling was pretty fair. But not perfect.
- Another poll that I may want to conduct at some point, with a hopefully much larger sample space, was suggested to me many years ago by my much-respected teacher Robert Zaslavsky. I wonder if there is a correlation between what time of year a person was born, and whether they consider themself to be a morning or a night person?
I'm also sort of curious how most people pronounce the name of the coffee chain xando.
The following quotes were collected on Instant Messanger in response to the poll. In all cases except where requested otherwise by the person quoted, their screenname has been replaced by their first name.
Justin: facing the water you fool! Beth: ummm...depends on my mood [unknown]: i am a "face the water" kind of girl Mara: next time i shower i'll think about it Navah: away from the water, but its close
And an interesting pair of quotes:
Kelsey: facing away from the water to wash my hair. Peter: Facing it, but with my eyes closed. Peter: Wash the shampoo away from your face... Peter: habit form long hair
This page and all data contained herein, except as indicated otherwise, are Copyright 2000, 2001 Joshua Rosenberg. All rights reserved. All statistics shown as percentages are based on the number of respondants who showed a preference among the choices.
© 2001-2004 Josh Rosenberg. Copying generally permitted with permission, but never without.
Page last modified 2006/10/04