If you have ever found yourself wondering why doctors' waiting rooms have such terribly old magazines — was there a fire sale on 2009 issues of Newsweek that only doctors knew about? Did they just give up their subscriptions en masse last year?— you needn't wonder anymore. Science has an answer.
The British Medical Journal, one of the more prestigious journals of academic medicine out there, has a little bit of fun with its Christmastime issue each year. And, this year, a handful of Australian doctors who heard repeated complaints about their magazine selection decided to investigate the issue.
They put out 87 magazines. Some were old, some were new, some were about celebrities and other were more news-focused, like the Economist and National Geographic. And the magazines quickly began to disappear.
The doctors found that, of the 47 magazines they put out that were less than two months old, patients had stolen 28 of them (60 percent) within a month. Older magazines also disappeared but at a slower clip; only 35 percent of those went missing in the same time frame.
Patients were more likely to steal the celebrity-focused magazines than the news products. By the end of a month, barely any of the gossip magazines remained.
So, there you have it: the magazines in doctors' offices are old because we've stolen all the newer ones. Or, to put it another way, this is why we cannot have nice things.