In an exciting new development, on Feb 7th, a major source of tripe was discovered in the Times. An ‘information’ box contained 10 claims about how we spend our time. The source was given as “Times Database”.
Was every one of these claims crap?
Let’s have a look:

“In an average lifetime of 75 years, 25 of them will be spent sleeping.” In other words, everyone sleeps an average of 8 hours a night – or if not some people will hardly ever be conscious.

“If you watch two hours of television a day, you will spend 2,281 hours (or three months) in front of the box.” Well 2281 hours is close to 3 months, but as 2 hours is 1/12 of a day, this implies a total lifespan of 4 years (3 months times 12)

“If you walk your dog two miles a day, you will cover 9344 miles during the average pet’s 12.8 year life.” I won’t deal with the question of lifespan by breedsize vs requirements for exercise – what’s the point of accuracy? I’ll just point out that if you multiply 12.8 by 365 and then by 2 you do indeed get 9344 – so they forgot about leap years.

“The average British woman spends two years of her life gazing in the mirror” I suppose this one is hard to disprove. Lets cut out babyhood and assume a constant daily rate of gazing, that gives about 41 minutes a day (no I havent included leap days). This might be true, but for instance my mother hardly ever looked in the mirror during the last 10 years of her life – understandably, and my daughter averages about 5 minutes a day. My wife claims about 8 minutes a day. OK, so you wouldnt come round to my house to look at the totty, but every million people like this starts to make the results for the balancing heavy gazers unfeasable. Some day I’ll put up a serious page about things that have normal distribution (like height) and things that don’t (like gazing in the mirror) – and how to tell the difference.

“Average shoppers will spend six months of their lives at the suypermarket. A typical consumer makes two half hour trips to the supermarket every week.” At that rate, they will only notch up 6 months after 84 years of shopping. But who manages a half hour trip to a supermarket?

>”The average woman dedicates 603 days of her life to applying mascara, blusher, lipstick and eyeshadow – and a further 170 days removing the various layers”. Well if all women plastered themselves in makeup for 70 years of their lives that would only average 44 minutes a day (slightly longer than the 41 days she spends gazing in the mirror. The same arguments apply.

“Stressed British workers lose seven years of sleep over their lifetimes because of work worries.” Presumably this must be in addition to the 25 years they spend sleeping – and what about loosing sleep through other worries, illness, straight insomnia and the odd late night? Hello! – is anyone up? I don’t think so.

“Britons spend more than four years on the telephone in their working lives – with women chatting for a whole year more than men.” If the average person works for 7 hours a day for 5 days a week for 40 years – (and they don’t): then they work for 72800 hours. 4 years on the other hand is 35040 hours. So the average worker would be on the telephone for half their working life – and for every bus conductor, squaddie, shopworker, merchant seamen. miner, schoolteacher who spends no time on the telephone, someone else is on the phone for the whole of their working day?
I nearly mentioned lorry drivers as non telephone users, but scarily, they tend to be the ones who are on the phone all day!

“The average computer user will spend 4.7 years surfing the internet during their lifetime.” How can they tell? most people have had access to the internet for less than 10 years – and how can we know how long the internet will exist in its current form? or the life expectancy of the average internet computer user? (their pasty expressions and RSI show plainly the state of moral turpitude into which these unfortunates have fallen).

“The average smoker spends nearly a month on breaks while at work. This equates to 7426 hours during the average smoker’s working lifetime, or nearly a whole year spent smoking rather than working”
Either: we’re dealing in work months so lets give them the benefit of the doubt and reckon that’s 52 weeks times 35 hours (some work more – others less) * 1/12 (= a man month) (no holidays, no illness, no leapyears). So thats 152 hours a year, which gives a working lifetime of 48 years, which is just too high. Or its a 24hr a day month (as used so often in these statistics) which gives a working lifetime of about 12 years.

For the first time ever, this blog feels able to award the “Times Database” the coveted ***** crapstats rating for exceptional services to misinformation.
Congratuations to the named journalist on the page ‘ Simon de Bruxelles’ and to the sub who consulted this database, probably with one hand.