In particular, we have the Christmas issue of the BMJ, which is devoted to methodologically sound papers about silly things (examples including last year’s on virgin birth in the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, and the classic meta-analysis of randomised trials of parachute use)
University of Auckland researchers have a paper this year looking at the survival rate of magazines in doctors’ waiting rooms
We defined a gossipy magazine as one that had five or more photographs of celebrities on the front cover and a most gossipy magazine as one that had up to 10 such images. The Economist and Time magazine were deemed to be non-gossipy. The rest of the magazines did not meet the gossipy threshold as they specialised in, for example, health, the outdoors, the home, and fashion. Practice staff placed 87 magazines in three piles in the waiting room and removed non-study magazines. To blind potential human vectors to the study, BA marked a unique number on the back cover of each magazine. Twice a week the principal investigator arrived at work 30 minutes early to record missing magazines.
And what did they find?