The Defy Aging Newsletter

Anti-aging psychology, holistic health, and wellness

a biweekly e-mail newsletter for helping you think, feel, look, and be more youthful and live with purpose.

October 18, 2007 Number 174

This issue:

Comparison Data

Action to take

Feel good about how the quiet revolution of comparison data and transparency is vastly improving the quality of our lives and institutions.


The "news" feeds us a constant diet of crime, corruption, strife, and tragedies. It is easy to be seduced into thinking the world has gone to hell. Good news usually isn't sexy, glitzy, or violent enough to get much coverage. But there is a wonderful revolution going on that is having a profound effect on making the world a better place. The epicenter of this revolution is the United States.

The revolution is the easy accessibility and demand for comparison data and its sister--transparency. A bellwether was Consumers Reports. If you want to buy a new or used car, you don't seek the government data on crash tests or miles per gallon, you get much more useful, comprehensive, readable data from Consumer Reports. Variations of Consumer Reports now cover nutrition, medications and healthcare.

Need services? Organizations like Angie's List can give you a scorecard on local plumbers, contractors and dozens of other services.  Considering a new computer or cell phone? can tell you what the geeks say and what the consumers say about tech toys. Many online stores also give ratings. Need a book? gives publisher and consumer ratings and the Table of Contents. Concerned about whether an organization is legit? Check sites like Quackwatch or Ripoff Report.

Considering college? Magazines and sites like US News and World Report give a lot of information. Sites like, StudentsReview give students' views. Sites like give the students take on drug use, diversity, Greek life, nightlife, etc. RateMyProfessor has students rate quality and difficulty level of courses and even whether the professor is "hot."

Healthcare would seem to be hard to rate but comparison data are starting to appear in magazines and at That site has incredible detail comparing nursing homes. Books and magazines are ratings doctors. Ralph Nadar's organization Public Citizen published, Worst Pills Best Pills. Medco, the huge insurance company, will be giving Consumer Reports Best Buy Drug reports to its millions of subscribers. Why? Because helping subscribers make better decisions helps Medco as well. The Nadar and CR publications give the skinny on medications in plain English. They provide far more useful and objective information than the politicized Food and Drug Administration provide.

I could go on and on rating cities, employers and much more. The easily available information helps us make better decisions. The competition it fosters spurs continuous quality improvement. The revolution is likely to accelerate because technology makes it feasible and consumers demand it.

Closely related is a push for more transparency in business and government. For example, CalPERS, the California Public Employees Retirement System has put a number of businesses on notice that they must become more transparent and responsible or CalPERS will disinvest million of dollars in their stocks. More and more government documents are now online. There are even sites rating federal government programs' effectiveness. Our politicians could use such data to sunset ineffective government agencies.

In short, we have a wonderful revolution that benefits Americans and people all over the world.


Information is the currency of democracy.

~Ralph Nadar


Every honest man secretly welcomes a press agent.

~source unknown

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