Why are the magazines at your local dentist’s office so inconceivably ancient? The British Medical Journal calls attention to a new study conducted by Professor Bruce Arroll at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and the answer is practically Darwinian.
Inspired by his own visits to the doctor’s office, Arroll purchased 87 magazines–including publications ranging from gossip rags to National Geographic to the Economist–and stacked them in three piles in the waiting room of a local practitioner.
After 31 days, 41 of the 87 magazines (roughly 47%), had disappeared at a rate of around 1.32 magazines per day. Arroll found that newer magazines were more 59% likely to be swiped by patients on their way out than older ones, and that gossip magazines like People and Heat were 14 times as likely to disappear than non-gossipy publications.
Arroll suggests that doctors who don’t want to lose money on disappearing magazines stock their waiting rooms with old copies of Time and the Economist. As a guy who has half-a-year’s worth of back issues of the Economist in a wicker basket within arm’s reach of my toilet, that sounds okay to me.