How Stagnant Are We? The Results
By Bryan Caplan
Remember my Time Diary Self-Experiment? Only 41 people responded, so I take the feedback with a grain of salt. Still, both of my predictions were correct. To refresh your memory, I asked respondents to repeatedly ask themselves:
1. Was my experience during the last hour noticeably better as a result of an innovation introduced from 1990-present? [Yes/No]
2. Was my experience during the last hour noticeably better as a result of an innovation introduced from 1950-1989? [Yes/No]
Once you’re done, code “yes”=1 and “no”=0. Then calculate your average scores, and report them on quicksurveys.
1. The median response for question #1 will be at least .15.
2. The median response for question #2 will be no more than three times as high as the median response for question #1.
The median response for both questions was 1! The typical respondent claimed that every single waking hour was “noticeably better” as a result of innovations from both the 1950-1989 and the 1990-present eras. I’m tempted to claim vindication, but my honest reaction is that respondents didn’t take the time diary approach very seriously. Life has improved a lot, but if you spent your last hour reading a (conventional book) or taking a (tech-free) stroll, it’s hard to see how your experience is noticeably better than it would have been in 1949.
Anyone who answered “1” care to defend your answer?