Posted in History & Literature

Hot Waitress Economic Index

What happens when an economy is going into a depression? Unemployment goes up, inflation goes up, housing markets tank… There are many (miserable) indicators of a waning economy, but none are as strange as the Hot Waitress Economic Index. Simply put, this index suggests that the worse the economy is doing, the more attractive the waitresses are on average.

Despite sounding incredibly shallow and sexist, there is sufficient data to support this theory. It can be explained by the fact that when the economy is doing fine, attractive women are more likely to be in higher paying jobs as they are favoured by employers (unfair, but statistically true). When the economy is doing poorly, unemployment rates rise and these attractive women are pushed down to low-paying jobs such as waitressing as actual skill becomes a higher priority when hiring. This causes an apparent increase in the overall attractiveness of waitresses in the country. Some studies suggest that the Hot Waitress Economic Index is even more accurate in predicting the state of the economy than unemployment as attractive people tend to be the first to earn jobs, acting as an immediate indicator for the economy. For example, when the economy dips out of the depression and starts to rise again, attractive people are the first to be re-hired into higher paying jobs, causing the Hot Waitress Economic Index to change before the unemployment rate does.

Interestingly, there is no data on how the economy affects the average attractiveness of waiters.

Posted in Psychology & Medicine

Beer Goggles

There’s only one thing other than love that can make a person oversee another’s weaknesses and amplify their strengths – alcohol. The term beer goggles refers to this phenomenon, where a member of the opposite sex appears more attractive due to the influence of alcohol. This is because alcohol inhibits the cerebral cortex where higher order thinking occurs, reducing sexual inhibition and allowing primitive behaviour to surface.
Beer goggles can be utilised to increase the chances of succeeding in courtship if one knows how to manipulate it.

There is even an equation to calculate the strength of beer goggles, produced from actual scientific research and experiments. The equation is:

An = number of units of alcohol consumed
S = smokiness of the room (graded from 0-10, where 0 clear air; 10 extremely smoky)
L = luminance of ‘person of interest’ (candelas per square metre; typically 1 pitch black; 150 as seen in normal room lighting)
Vo = Snellen visual acuity (6/6 normal; 6/12 just meets driving standard)
d = distance from ‘person of interest’ (metres; 0.5 to 3 metres)

Ergo, the more you drink, the further you are from them, the smokier and darker it is and the worse your eyesight, the beer goggle index (ß) rises and the subject becomes more attractive, thus increasing the probability that you will approach that person.

Posted in History & Literature

Big Mac Index

The Big Mac is McDonald’s poster product, with the key characteristics of two beef patties and three buns. This hamburger has spread to almost every country in the world thanks to globalisation, which allows it to be used in an interesting study in economics.

Although every country’s Big Mac varies in ingredients and nutritional values slightly, they are similar enough to be considered a universal standard. Therefore, the price of a Big Mac in each country can be used to find what is called the Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). The PPP is an index to show how much money in Country A’s currency is required to buy goods that cost $1 of Country B’s currency.

Finding the Big Mac index is quite simple. First, find the prices of Big Macs in two countries. Then, divide the first price by the second price (without converting currencies), and find the ratio. This ratio (i.e. the PPP) is then compared against the actual exchange rate, using percentage. As it is hard to explain in words, here is a mathematical expression of what is said above (using July 2008 figures):

  1. A Big Mac costs $3.57 in the US and £2.29 in the UK on average
  2. $3.57/£2.29 = 1.56 (PPP)
  3. Actual exchange rate: USD$2.00 : GBP£1.00 = 2.00
  4. (2.00 – 1.56)/1.56 = 0.28 = +28%
  5. Therefore, the pound is 28% overvalued

The PPP shows that the exchange rate does not show the actual value of a currency compared to another currency. As in, although the official exchange rate is $2.00=£1.00, using the Big Mac index the actual value ratio between the two currencies is $1.56=£1.00.

Even complicated economic concepts can be explained with everyday objects such as hamburgers, or “burgernomics”.