DS View: The Best

Statistics, no matter what the topic, can’t measure what’s real.

In the last few years, it seems, North Dakota has been creeping its way to the top of some interesting lists. A google search of  “North Dakota number one” reveals that our state is ranked first in bars per capita, churches per capita, beer consumed per capita and penis size based on condom purchases.

These spectacular achievements add up to another impressive ranking: North Dakota ranked number one in happiness and well-being in 2013, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

I’m not a math guy — that’s why I work for the newspaper — but there seems to be some sort of equation at play here. Does chain-drinking beer increase the size of male genitalia? Perhaps all of our bars need to be balanced out by churches, and we just haven’t figured out when to call it quits. Maybe large condoms and gallons of beer are all North Dakotans need to be happy.

Don’t spend too long balancing these equations — there’s not a magical coefficient to make it all work. What we are dealing with is largely a misrepresentation of numbers due to a rapidly growing economy.

Happiness and well-being are calculated considering employment rates and salary, both of which the oil boom has increased exponentially. As far as phallic excellence, North Dakota’s rank is boosted because of its small population, in the same way that less populated areas like Rhode Island, South Dakota and the District of Columbia rank second, third and fourth respectively.

We also should consider the unimpressive lists that North Dakota currently tops. In the continental 48 states, North Dakota is by far the coldest. Grand Forks, Fargo and Bismarck rank first, second and fourth, respectively, for the coldest cities on the mainland.

We also rank first in underage drinking, with 40 percent of our 12 to 20-year-olds reporting they have had one or more drink within the month they were surveyed.

These stats are not so flattering.

Frankly, living in the city with the coldest winters makes me feel many things before “happy” — most notably “cold.”

I’m also not impressed hearing about 12-year-olds adding to our binge drinking statistics, but all of these stats need to be taken with a grain of salt.

If anything, being at the top of these lists means one thing: it’s finally an interesting time to live in North Dakota.

Sam Wigness is the features editor for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].