34 things every sociologist knows

<strong>Taken from the <em>New Statesman</em> archive, 1 May 1970.</strong>

How many of these migh

My sociologist friends complain that we laymen possess very little scientific information about our fellows, yet whenever we are faced with some elaborately researched generalisation about human behaviour we sneer and say: "But everybody knows that!" In order to muddy the waters of controversy, I have constructed a list of apparent truisms. I do not vouch for their accuracy, and reserve the right not to enter into correspondence with anyone about any of them.

1. The divorce rate is higher among the rich than the poor.

2. Men have a lower pain threshold than women.

3. No one has ever contracted lung cancer through smoking pot.

4. More soap is used per head per year in the north of England than in the south.

5. More men commit suicide than women but more women attempt suicide than men.

6. As 5, with the addition of the phrases "except in the north", "before 1945", "of childbearing age", and "collected from a random sample taken from readers of the Guardian woman's page".

7. London bus conductors have the lowest rate of heart disease of any British manual workers.

8. London bus drivers have the highest incidence of ulcers of any British socio-economic group.

9. The sales of tinned food to housewives are significantly lower in Wales than in the Home Counties.

10. Most serious accidents in the home in Scotland occur when the male wage-earner falls downstairs on a Saturday night.

11. The likelihood of any Member of Parliament bearing the same surname as any other MP is six times greater than the same likelihood among any group of the same number.

12. Most criminals are the product of broken homes.

13. 67 per cent of all London taxi drivers are Jewish.

14. The average annual income of authors in Britain who have published more than one book is £178.

15. More sexual offences are committed on the night of the full moon than on any other night in the lunar month.

16. At the 1966 general election, 27,264,747 votes were polled out of a UK electorate of 35,957,245.

17. The Daily Mail has had seven editors since the last war.

18. This is the same as the Spectator over the same period.

19. The chances of any cheque being marked "return to drawer" increase with the number of hyphens in the name of the signatory.

20. On a test measuring group attitudes, Hong Kong Chinese showed most hostility to Japanese and Asiatic Indians and least to Americans.

21. Married couples are more likely to share any physical characteristic - colour of eyes, hair, skin; height, weight, blood group - than not.

22. Criminal statistics show that in Britain the characteristic crime of the Irish is drunkenness, of the Scots violent assault, of the Jews fraud, and of the Welsh petty larceny.

23. That of the English is cruelty to children.

24. The amount of tax relief allowed to owner-occupiers in 1969-70 was £215m.

25. Britain has one acre of woodland to every 13 people.

26. There are 19 Briens in the London telephone directory.

27. Only 7 per cent of all people murdered in the UK in the past 25 years were killed by someone who was a total stranger to them.

28. The drop-out rate among students is highest among those from large families and lowest among those who are an only child.

29. The majority of motorists prosecuted for motoring offences have criminal records.

30. One bridegroom in four in Hull met his wife at a public dance.

31. Three married couples out of four in southern England were born, or brought up, within half a mile of each other.

32. Mental illness decreases in time of war.

33. There is a small, but distinct, tendency to bronchial ailments to be found among middle-aged people who have owned a dog for more than five years.

34. No long-term increase in the sales of any goods has ever been proved to result from an increase in advertising expenditure.

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