We're Not So Ugly After All

BeautifuldoggieWe 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.

Posted 10/26/2007 11:28:44 AM

Geez, as if it wasn't bad enough around here. Brian Griese, Gagne's hurt, the stinking Red Sox ... now, we get the Rodney Dangerfield second-opinion: "OK, you're ugly too!"

Posted 11/06/2007 03:50:43 PM

I choose to embrace our ugliness. It means we have character...or at least, a lot of characters which make Market East seem like a lot of fun on the weekends. But I must admit, as I walk around town, we aren't the prettiest group that I've ever seen. Flyers and Eagles jerseys don't really show us off. And there is so much spit and urine on the sidewalks that it makes our faces contort a bit as we are walking by. So maybe we have a lot of potential, and if we clean up the place a bit, then we'll start smiling again. And nothing says pretty like a smiling Philadelphian with a face full of cheesesteaks. Don't worry too much about this and remember, if everyone else is ugly, it makes us look a bit better. It is better to be a big fish in a ..... oh, you get the idea.