Search the Harper's "Index" index


Whether you have some productive reason to search for stats, or you just need a daily factoid fix, Harper's magazine's online "Index" search will pull up decades' worth of short, sourced blurbs on 1000s of topics … and open up delightful rabbit holes by linking one factoid to other, connected, topic searches.

A search for "cancer" resulted in my learning:

  • The chance of contracting a "fairly common" form of colon cancer reported on in the New York Times April 4, 2002: 1 in 8,000 … and the chance of a child contracting the "rare disease" neuroblastoma, as cited by another Times article the same day: 1 in 7,000
  • The percentage change between 1930 and 2000 in the annual U.S. death rate for cancer: +11 … and the percentage change since then in the U.S. death rate for all cancers except that of the lung: -20
  • The average number of hours per week Bob Dole spent tanning in 1996: 3.5 … and the amount of sunscreen Bob Dole used at that time: 0
  • The ercentage of doctors in 1960 who said patients should be told the truth about their cancer: 18 … and the percentage who said that in 1985: 70

Image courtesy Flickr user Matt Biddulph, via CC