How the Seattle windshield pitting epidemic is connected to data interpretation?

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Seattle windshield pitting epidemic

It happened in April 1954, the Seattle windshield pitting epidemic – a phenomenon that affected Bellingham, Seattle, and other communities of Washington State, With the widespread observation of previously unnoticed windshield pits, holes and dents.

The residents started to believe that It was the work of vandals, but the rate of pitting increased all the time, so they began to attribute it to everything from sand flea eggs to nuclear bomb testing. Moreover, the pitting was soon observed in the nearby towns, so much so that the media started to talk about a so-called “pitting epidemic” everywhere. By April 15, close to 3,000 windshields had been reported as affected.

Here are some theories that were thought to explain explained the widespread damage: a million-watt radio transmitter was producing waves that caused physical oscillations in glass; the work of cosmic rays; others believed that it was the work of sand fleas, the list goes on.

But the real cause was found during a police inspection. Sergeant Max Allison of the Seattle police crime laboratory stated that the pitting reports consisted of “5 per cent hoodlum-ism, and 95 per cent public hysteria.” By April 17, the pitting suddenly stopped.

Collective delusion or “mass hysteria” ?

This story is a good example showing that in life we see things as we would like to see them, and we end up believing them too. But the reality is that it’s only our imagination.

The story shows it was only the collective delusion and not “mass hysteria” as it was reported. The media coverage people start noticing pits that had perhaps already been there. People relied on the information announced by media without verifying its authenticity.

The same thing happens in quantamental investing. While investing it’s important to rely on the right data and solid accurate analytics. The correct reliable interpretation of the data brings the best returns on investments.


Wikipedia – Seattle windshield pitting epidemic

The Windshield-Pitting Mystery Of 1954