Saturday, March 14, 2009

attention: CONTEST.

the inspiration.
Last week, we had a Fundamentals of Doctoring test.  Don't even get me started on the overall stupidity of this class -- if the fundamentals of the medical profession mainly involve memorizing arbitrary, inane, and probably incorrect statistics in order to regurgitate them on a multiple-choice exam, then I've chosen the wrong profession.  But I digress.  My point is, one of the statistics we were required to memorize for the last exam was about marital infidelity.  According to the PowerPoint slide we were given (no references, of course), 50% of married men are unfaithful at some point in their life.  The numbers are lower for women, sitting at around 26%.  When you average the sexes together, this means that on average, 38% of people that are married are going to cheat.  Now to be fair, not everyone gets married, so we'll apply that number to the 95% of people that do marry.  This comes out to a whopping 36%.  

the study.
I am an optimist.  I refuse to believe this number is true.  So I'm going to try to refute it using the least scientific way possible.  Yes, that's right -- I'm going to extrapolate the results to the songs in my iTunes and see if they hold up.  If those statistics are correct, then over 36% of my music should be written about cheaters.  Here's my reasoning: 

1) Famous people have a higher-than-average infidelity rate.  Have you read Us Weekly lately?  Me neither, but judging from the covers I see in the grocery store, people of fame and fortune cheat on each other at a much higher rate than the general population.  Plus, they are prettier -- I can imagine the temptation is probably much greater for a guy who goes to parties with, say, Jennifer Aniston and Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman.  

2) Musicians are notorious for writing songs about cheating lovers.  I mean, let's face it.  If you are a song writer and someone cheats on you, it is going to be the #1 single on your next album.  No question about it.  

Assuming the above reasoning holds true, the proportion of songs written about infidelity should be higher than the actual real-life percentage of cheaters.  So I am going to conduct a study on my own iTunes library by counting the number of songs that involve some sort of infidelity.  This will probably take awhile.  I have a lot of music.  But I am curious, and let's face it, I have a lot of free time this week, so I am going to start counting.

here's where you come in.  
I would like everyone who reads this to venture a guess as to what percentage of my iTunes library will fit this description.  I have 4,541 songs.  If our trusty FOD statistics are indeed true, then 1635 of these songs (36%) will be added to my "CHEATERS" playlist.  If the true number of songs is lower (as I suspect it is) then I am never paying attention in that class again.  

So leave me a comment with your guess.  That means you.  The winner, or the person who is closest to the actual percentage will receive a REALLY AWESOME PRIZE.   It will probably take me a week or so to go through my library, so you've got a few days to come up with a really good answer.

some things to consider: 
1) Did I mention this is probably the least scientific study I can think of? Because it is.
2) I have some Christian music on my computer.  I would venture to say that most of these songs will not be about cheating lovers.  It is not a large part of my library, but it will probably skew the results a little bit. 
3) I have no way of knowing if most of these songs are about marital infidelity or not, but for the sake of this study, let's assume they are.  Maybe this will counteract #2.
4) It is possible that different people would have vastly different numbers to come out of their individual music collections.  Perhaps these results could someday in the future be extrapolated to a personality assessment.  I'm imagining a Cosmo quiz, maybe -- "Is Your Man Faithful?  Analyze His Music Collection to Find Out!"
5) Of course, this is all in good fun.  May the best man (or woman) win.  Also, if you don't enter my contest, I am not your friend anymore.  Thanks.

UPDATE, 3/16/09:  
Apparently the folks over at Paste Magazine and I are cut from the same cloth.  Except their survey is slightly more morbid than my own...


Kacie said...

I'm going with ... 9.8%

Katie said...


WikiStevia said...

No more than 5%.
My official guess is 3.7%

Neal said...

where did the stats come from that you learned in class?

Neal said...

as in, what study or group?

allison said...

Neal: No idea. That's what I was saying, this class is so badly taught that they just throw numbers at us and don't back it up with anything.

Tad said...

Put me down on the box for 6.382978%.

Given the rigor of this inquiry, I figure such precision is warranted. So because I am lazy, I sampled my shortest play list (only 47 songs) and came up with 3 that fit. Thus, 3/47 = 6.382978%.

It's possible that my sample may by skewed since this play list is one I just made to burn a few CDs for my niece, who is adorable, just turned 20, bought a new Saab convertible, and has a distinctive taste for songs that run to the melancholy.

But, math can't be wrong. I'll check back later for my prize!

Liz said...


allison said...

Update: I am still working on this. It takes awhile to sort through an entire iTunes library. So don't think I've given up, readers; the results will hopefully be coming in the next few days!