Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Tucson Garbage Project
Dr. Rathje and his students studied the contents of Tucson residents' refuse in order to examine patterns of consumption. Quantitative data from bins was compared with information known about the residents who owned them. The results have shown that information people freely volunteered about their consumption habits did not always tally with the contents of their rubbish bins. For example, alcohol consumption was proved to be significantly higher in reality than in the questionnaires completed by the people studied. Such findings have highlighted the difference between people's self-reported and actual behaviours.
Such findings cast doubt on the reliability of the historical record when applied to archaeological sites in general and follow a processualist approach stressing the benefits of scientific analysis.
The project has since expanded to other American cities and has undertaken excavation of landfill sites.
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