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Old 06-05-12, 08:56 AM   #1
NOS88
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Ideas for testing a hypothesis

The last three days, my older son and I took short 25 to 30 mile rides on the Schuylkill River Trail. On all three days we were hit with torrential rain storms. On the third day my son noted that others we saw on the trail during the rain were much more likely to nod, wave, or in some other manner acknowledge our presence or greet us. He said he had been counting, and around 40% of riders did this. He also commented that on days with perfect weather (sunshine, low humidity and moderate temperatures) he usually noted a 10 to 20% rate of people greeting one another. Finally, he suggested that perhaps it was because people “braving” the foul weather felt more of a sense of kinship with others who were doing the same.

This is somewhat of a big deal for him and me in that I have been pushing him the last several months to do more than just use the SWAG (scientific wild a$$ guess) method for reaching decisions (something he’s prone to do). I acknowledged that collecting the data was the first step, but that it would be premature to reach a conclusion regarding the data. He grinned and said, “Got it. We need to test my hypothesis.” So, the question is how might one realistically test this hypothesis? We’re open to ideas and suggestions. In the meantime and as a first step, how many of you could either confirm or reject the hypothesis based solely on your own behavior. Are you more prone to acknowledge/greet others out of a sense of kinship when there is some level of hardship involved?
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Old 06-05-12, 09:47 AM   #2
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Adverse conditions bring out the diehards. The ones that want to walk- take the dog out or cycle. They are all doing a similar thing and that is exercise. They have a common interest and will recognise others doing the same. Get a nice sunny day and you will get more people out but included in the diehards are the fairweather people. A Different type of person and not all are as friendly as the committed.

But I have also noticed something that is going to throw your hypothesis out of kilter. I cycle into town or walk in my locality and in the week there seems to more of us older persons about. Everyone will acknowledge others out and about. I will and so do the other older people. But I do not say hello or acknowledge younger people unless I know them. And I never get them recognising me first.
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Old 06-05-12, 11:02 AM   #3
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I do my best to nod, wave, two finger wave, or say "hello" or "good morning/afternoon" to all I meet--especially cyclists and walkers/runners(of the walkers/runners, it's those I see often).
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Old 06-05-12, 12:23 PM   #4
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I do my best to nod, wave, two finger wave, or say "hello" or "good morning/afternoon" to all I meet--especially cyclists and walkers/runners(of the walkers/runners, it's those I see often).
Are you more prone to doing this at any particular time or under and particular circumstances?
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Old 06-05-12, 01:00 PM   #5
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"In the meantime and as a first step, how many of you could either confirm or reject the hypothesis based solely on your own behavior. Are you more prone to acknowledge/greet others out of a sense of kinship when there is some level of hardship involved?"

Yes, absolutely, and not only when it comes to bike riding. For example, my house is in an area that floods when there are bad storms. Those storms (and the cleanups) bring out the best in people - it's at those times that we all act like neighbors. When things are relatively calm and easy, we might just nod or say hello.

I've also noticed that, when people are stuck on long lines, or on a subway train that's stalled in a tunnel, strangers will start to talk. When things are going well, everyone pretty much keeps to himself.

I don't think this is a new observation, BTW - I think it's well known that adversity brings people together. When it doesn't tear them apart, that is...
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Old 06-05-12, 01:06 PM   #6
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Thanks. You just triggered a panic attack as I contemplate chi squared values, numbers NNT, Bayes theorem, and all sorts of statistical mumbo jumbo that I've tried to forget and never really understood anyway.

I think you are right. I've noticed when it's really cold out people wave a lot, because cycling in cold weather is noble.
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Old 06-05-12, 02:13 PM   #7
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Are you more prone to doing this at any particular time or under and particular circumstances?
I was talking about when I was cycling. But, when I was walking 4 miles 6 or 7 days/week before I started cycling, I usually said hello, good morning/afternoon, or waved to others--didn't see many cyclists on my walking route.
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Old 06-08-12, 05:28 PM   #8
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A group of people dealing with a common adversity will tend toward more comraderie. There's a feeling that "we are all in this together". At least that is my observation and opinion.
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Old 06-08-12, 08:15 PM   #9
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I'd venture that the hardship aspect does make people recognize others braving the same. I don't get the not waving being a part of the "hard core roadie" thing. None of us are in need of training so much that we have to be in full concentration while riding and ignore all others or be polite and social. Seems like these are the poseurs to me, but I guess that goes with their Big name pro kit and super expensive bicycle, too.

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Old 06-08-12, 11:01 PM   #10
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. . . the fairweather people. A Different type of person and not all are as friendly as the committed.
+1

I suspect age is also a factor. Older, and sometimes larger, people are less likely to take themselves too seriously, and more likely to brave the weather because they are motivated by reasons that have nothing to do with impressing others..
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Old 06-09-12, 05:59 AM   #11
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I notice that the friendliest (and most courteous and careful) folks on my early morning rides are the commuters, of whom I usually see many. Now, I have no knowledge if this supports or does not support your hypothesis. I just felt like I had to contribute something to a thread that was using the term "hypothesis."

I mean . . .
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Old 06-09-12, 08:01 AM   #12
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This is somewhat of a big deal for him and me in that I have been pushing him the last several months to do more than just use the SWAG (scientific wild a$$ guess) method for reaching decisions (something he’s prone to do).
Why would you want to wreck what seems like a perfectly reasonable approach to making decisions?
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Old 06-09-12, 08:17 AM   #13
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Yes I am more likely to empathise with, and acknowledge, those who like me are daft enough to think it fun to ride in adverse conditions.

As for testing the hypothesis, the obvious problem is with the sample. Simply counting waves and correlating with weather will not do, because it may be that only compulsive wavers ride in the rain, and that they wave no more often but comprise a higher proportion of the riding population when it's raining. So you need a means of identifying your subjects and observing their waving behaviour.
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Old 06-09-12, 09:57 AM   #14
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Yes I am more likely to empathise with, and acknowledge, those who like me are daft enough to think it fun to ride in adverse conditions.

As for testing the hypothesis, the obvious problem is with the sample. Simply counting waves and correlating with weather will not do, because it may be that only compulsive wavers ride in the rain, and that they wave no more often but comprise a higher proportion of the riding population when it's raining. So you need a means of identifying your subjects and observing their waving behaviour.
You see my problem.
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Old 06-09-12, 02:35 PM   #15
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I think you first need to identify the subjects and then track their behavior during different weather conditions. It may be that the same individual is more likely to acknowledge another rider during severe weather than he is during fair weather. Or, thos individuals are equally likely to acknowledge in any condition, but the greeters are more likely to ride in weather than non-greeters. In other words you need to know whether the weather affects the individual behavior, or whether the weather is selected by the individual.

Maybe indelible paint or tracking beacons would be inappropriate but you might set up at a strategic point in the trail and take pictures for several weeks, both in fair weather and during thunderstorms. Getting an idea of the distribution. Or you could simply ask every cyclist you encounter how often he rides in the rain.

Then take video of the subjects during test rides, hopefully then being able to assign a probability of that person riding in fair or not fair weather and normalize the greeting frequency.
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Old 06-09-12, 06:17 PM   #16
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Significant portion of people out on the lovely sunny days are just hedonistic souls, i.e. they just want pleasure wherever its available. Don't expect these people to feel any kinship with you unless you are offering some form of pleasure they find appealing.
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Old 06-10-12, 04:32 PM   #17
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I've noticed this as well, when I ride during the "Off-season", or anytime there is a summertime thunderstorm. While many cyclists start looking for shelter when a t-storm comes up, I will generally turn my lights on and brave it, at least until it gets really biblical. And what happens: The other cyclists wave and frequently grin. It's a knowing grin, one that says, "You're just as crazy as me".

So yeah, I would say there is something about braving certain adverse conditions that seems to bring out better qualities in people.
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