We had found it beneath us to comment on the Travel & Leisure "survey" that voted Philadelphians to be the ugliest Americans -- as if our radiance can be divined by mere appearances. Clearly they've never stopped by The Trestle Inn.
Besides, Philadelphia Will Do already came up with a Mad Libs to lampoon the latest affrontery, and how can we beat that?
But when The Numbers Guy in the Wall Street Journal rode to our civic rescue today, I felt attention had to be paid.
Carl Bialik dug into the "methodology" of Travel & Leisure, concluding that the ranking -- we were last of 25 cities -- was "far from a scientific comparison of the bone structure and facial symmetry of urban dwellers."
Why? Let him enumerate the ways.
First, a pretty shallow sample, and we're talking statistically. Instead of doing the representative thing, T & L relied on clicks on its Web site. Duh. For two months, the mag polled it's readers. Nothing kept them from voting repeatedly. The voters were asked to rank 55 separate attributes for U.S. cities. Few hung with the survey long enough to rate all the cities. So a Santa Fe won it's rating through 428 votes, where NYC attracted 3,059 respondents.
A T & L spokeswoman told The Journal's numbers dude:
“We’re confident in our methodology.” She noted that completing the survey for any one city took seven to ten minutes, so it was unlikely many people stuffed the ballot boxes. “We didn’t do it to shame any city," she said. "We asked people to rate positive attributes.”
Philly’s attractiveness rating was 3.75, and every other city came in at 3.95 or higher, which suggested to the number's dude "that either urban Americans all have roots in Lake Wobegon, or they’re being graded on a curve."
They did say that our restaurants rocked.
The Journal mentioned that Philadelphia City Council was outraged by the survey.
A locally owned tab wrote:
"This is the city of Fabian and Frankie Avalon and Grace Kelly," said City Councilman Frank DiCicco. "Are they saying we've morphed into ugly people over the last few decades? Somebody's drinking something out there."
I see a Travel & Leisure ban to go with the trans-fat and indoor smoking.