A pseudo-scientific analysis of the graffiti, with disclaimers for the pedantic

About a month ago, I was invited to put together a guest post for Inkling Magazine, and the resulting pseudo-scientific analysis of the graffiti is now up!

The “analysis” considers:

  1. Happiness, as measured in the ratio to smiley faces to frowny faces
  2. Love vs. hate, with a spiffy Venn diagram of the objects of the aforementioned emotions
  3. Sex: to what extent are ostensibly “sexual” words used in a sexual way?
  4. Anatomy: a comparison of the frequency with which male vs. female body parts are drawn and/or referenced
  5. Temporal fluctuations in love, despair, and sex graffiti

For my pedantic readers (including my beloved husband), or anyone else who missed the “pseudo-” part of the “pseudo-scientific analysis”, let me note that the sample size for any of this is too small to make any actual conclusions. Furthermore:

  1. Smiley faces and frowny faces basically function as punctuation, and their scope is almost always limited to the statement(s) they accompany. I know they’re not an indicator of general happiness or unhappiness. But I couldn’t resist the idea of a smiley-to-frowny-face ratio.
  2. Yes, it’s possible that people just write more love graffiti than hate graffiti, and the difference in graffiti frequency isn’t reflective of people’s private emotions. Please get over it.
  3. I’d actually like to look into the frequency of non-sexual uses of the “sexual” terms mentioned in the post, across a larger corpus of English. Maybe there’s nothing special about the graffiti data.
  4. There’s a graph depicting a vagina in the B-level men’s room, but I consider the B-level men’s room graffiti to be almost a different data set, and I didn’t include other material from bathrooms.
  5. Including the graffiti from the carrels might change the conclusions about the temporal fluctuations of love, despair, and sex. But I really have no way to date those (I’ve gone to the carrels 3-4 times in 2 years) so… tough cookies.

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