Has it ever struck you how many studies and surveys there are about things, with all kinds of remarkable results? The latest surprise for me personally was discovering that we're walking faster than we used to:
People are walking 10% more quickly than a decade ago, according to research in 32 cities across the globe.I thought about how this might have been written differently if it were a spoof item, but I couldn't. Taking it seriously, though, I have to confess to being puzzled by it. I don't think these studies are always exposed to proper critical scrutiny. If people are walking 10% more quickly, how come I'm walking more slowly? And I mean, I'm walking more slowly not when I'm ambling along, but when I'm out exercising and trying to walk as fast as I can. You may say that it's because I'm older than I was a decade ago, and that's true. But everybody's older than they were a decade ago.
Thousands of pedestrians were secretly timed in city centres... [etc]
Perhaps this is the clue. Some of the oldest folk from back then have dropped off the end, if I may so put it, and been replaced by youngsters nearer the beginning. Could that account for the speed-up? But it surely couldn't counteract the overall effects of everybody getting older.
Furthermore, have the researchers factored in the possibility that walking speed may be date-specific? In 1997 and '96 and '95, we were nearing the end of a century. Confident of getting there, walkers may have felt able to take their time. It could be that they wanted to postpone Y2K. Now, it's early days in the 21st century. There may be an unconscious worry for many that they're never gonna make it through to when 2099 turns into 2100.
So you see, it's all more complicated than it looks. But enough of this. Got to fly!