Thursday, May 31, 2012

Using Indirect Survey Techniques to Measure Zombie Outbreaks?

Zombies are now a common topic of discussion. In fact, the data we have available from Google Trends (for the phrase "zombie attack") strongly suggest an increasing risk of zombification across the world:

 However, academic research on zombies is limited (i.e,. non-existent), mainly because of the lack of high quality data. For those interested in studying zombies, I refer readers to Andrew Gelman's paper (co-written, apparently, by the great zombie film director George Romero) on how to measure zombie outbreaks via indirect survey techniques. You can find his article here. Even if you're not interested in zombies, his paper offers some good ideas on how to sample difficult-to-reach populations more generally.