Scientists To McCartney: Lonely People Come From New York
Liverpool, United Kingdom (AP) – After nearly fifty years of research, scientists have finally been able to supply a satisfactory answer to a query first posed in a 1966 paper by noted social researcher Sir Paul McCartney regarding the origins of people with few or no intimate relationships. They point to New York, where millions of people live and work, and work very hard to avoid making eye contact.
The original paper, Eleanor Rigby: Lonely People in Aeolian and Dorian Modes, looked at the lives of two Lancashire residents who had no apparent friends or nearby relatives, one of whom died during the period of observation. The authors – McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and Pete Shotton – took pains to set the particulars of the subjects’ lives against the meta-questions affecting socially limited individuals, repeatedly returning to the question of where such individuals originate.
Active research into the issue has taken a back seat to peripheral concerns in the intervening years, as Lennon insisted on a more prominent position in the list of authors for publication purposes, and the others countering that his contribution was significantly less than he had claimed. Some other researchers did take up the same question, studying the same subjects in meta-analysis through that time, but reaching no definitive answer, with the most recent, also inconclusive, publication this year by Al Di Meola in the journal All Your Life.
In 2008 a team of researchers undertook an exhaustive effort to document the origins of lonely people, identified by the frequency of Twitter or Facebook posts devoted to cats, celebrity marriages, soap operas, and other stunted social life indicators such as the actual use of MySpace or a tendency to eat at in-store supermarket cafeterias. The group surveyed upwards of four million lonely individuals, and noted that they concentrate in the New York metropolitan area. A secondary population was found in the Los Angeles vicinity but eventually disregarded as unimportant because it lies outside the New York metropolitan area.
In tracking the lonely people, researchers discovered that the number concentrated in the Manhattan and Brooklyn boroughs of the city increased beyond the number of lonely people who commuted there each day, indicating that the city was producing new lonely people at observable rates simply through the presence of so many other lonely people. The mechanism for the production remained a mystery, however, as by nature, lonely people tend not to engage in reproductive activities.
The scientists eventually found answers in the very activities described by McCartney, et al in the original paper. They discovered that manual nocturnal hosiery mending and the collection of post-nuptial rice in houses of worship precipitated a contagion of loneliness, usually spread by means of talk radio and cable TV call-in shows, with the occasional boost from broadcasts of The Love Boat reruns.
McCartney has yet to respond to the findings, saying he has not had time to review the new research, but has allowed that once he does so he might be amazed.