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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Paranoia & dirty hands on the Tube

Apparently a good way of studying paranoia is to go on a London Underground train and watch how people look at each other. I blogged about Dr Daniel Freeman's
paranoia Tube experiment from the Wellcome Trust on April 1st earlier this year and a number of you thought it was April Fool's Joke. However, The Guardian's Science Weekly podcast tried to re-create his virtual experiment on a Central Line Tube where the reporter describes the way people sit or stand, what they're reading or listening too & how that behaviour can affect other people's levels of paranoia.

Screen Grab from Avatar Research into Paranoia

According to his study one in four of the general public have paranoid thoughts. Freeman said the results suggest that paranoia was a quite normal emotion: "In the past, only those with a severe mental illness were thought to experience paranoid thoughts, but now we know that this is simply not the case."

In the middle of the podcast (about 15 mins in) they comment on last week's findings from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which states that commuters have dirty hands. That's no surprise really, but the further North you go, the dirtier people's hands get.

Hands on the Tube by tealcisgod04

The scientists swabbed the hands of 409 people at bus and train stations in five major cities in England and Wales. More than one in four commuters had bacteria from faeces on their hands. Men were likelier to have dirtier hands than women except (and I'm ashamed to say this) in London. At Euston station men had contamination levels of 6% whereas women had 21% - urgh.

The one good thing for Tube travellers (if anything good comes out of this) is that people who had travelled on the bus had higher rates of hand contamination than commuters who had used the train.

The BBC reported: Dr Val Curtis, director of the Hygiene Centre at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: "We were flabbergasted by the finding that so many people had faecal bugs on their hands.

"The figures were far higher than we had anticipated, and suggest that there is a real problem with people washing their hands in the UK.

"If any of these people had been suffering from a diarrhoeal disease, the potential for it to be passed around would be greatly increased by their failure to wash their hands after going to the toilet."

Perhaps we ought to forget being paranoid about how people look at each other on the Tube & spend a bit more time washing our hands, not only after the loo, but before and after commuting.

; Posted by Annie Mole Wednesday, October 22, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon