A correlation between Harry Potter and Emergency Room Visits: The Harry Potter Effect…

After reading the reviews given by Christakis, author of Connected, and Taleb, author if Black Swan, two books which I enjoyed, I was excited to read Barabasi’s Bursts: The Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do. Unfortunately, I missed the Linked train and felt a little more compelled to read Barabasi’s next hit. The book itself had the right intentions in captivating a novice audience for a subject that has been purely dominated by mathematicians.  For right now, however, I will refrain from writing a book review. If you would like one, I would recommend Columbia Professor Andrew Gelman’s full review of the book (thanks Johan).

What I did want to write about was an interesting study that Barabasi highlights from the John Radcliff Hospital in Oxford England. The report published in the British Medical Journal describes that with nearly 70 emergency cases, on July 16 there was an unusually low amount of cases at the emergency room. Interestingly enough this was also the launch dates of  two Harry Potter books—The Order of the Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince Saturday 21 June 2003 and Saturday 16 July 2005.
The numbers dont lie. The mean attendance rate for children aged 7-15 years during the control weekends was 67.4 (SD 10.4). For the two intervention weekends the attendance rates were 36 and 37 (mean 36.5, SD 0.7). This represents a significant decrease in attendances on the intervention weekends, as both are greater than two SD from the mean control attendance rate and an unpaired t test gives a t value of 14.2 (P < 0.0001). At no other point during the three year surveillance period was attendance that low.

The take away, “…all we need are ‘safety-conscious, talented writers who could produce high quality books for the purpose of injury prevention.’”

I wonder how many women avoided the emergency room when Twilight launched?

| if I knew all the words I would write myself out of here. |

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