Analysis: Christmas no longer in vogue!

December 24, 2011

I have just made an alarming discovery: judging from the biomedical literature, researchers appear to increasingly ignore Christmas.

My plan was to make a funny Christmas post looking at trivialities such as when during the year Christmas-related papers are posted. To this end, I did a trivial text-mining analysis that pulled out all papers mentioning “Christmas”, “Xmas”, or “X-mas” in the title or abstract. As a first check of the data, I looked at how many papes were published each year and was surprised to find only 20-30 in a typical year. To eliminate random fluctuations due to the low counts, I thus binned the data into decades before plotting the temporal trend (black dots are actual data points, red curve is a quadratic trendline):

The shocking result is that the frequency of Christmas-related papers has steadily dropped to less than half of what it was in the 1950s!

How can this be? I can think of several possibilities, and you are welcome to come with more in the comments:

  • We are running out of new funny things to say about Christmas.
  • An increasing proportion of researchers come from countries, in which Christmas is not widely celebrated.
  • Researchers have collectively stopped believing in Santa, as funding has dried up.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

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