Counting the Nomad population (1 Viewer)

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Greetings y'all. I had the pleasure of meeting Matt while he was lounging in Slab City. Hey, I hate to say that I want to TRACK EVERYONE but I was hoping to build a bit of a census to count the uncountable. Does anyone have any ideas on the best way to get a headcount of nomads in a city? I guess using online forums (like this) is a good proxy for activity & movements.
Ultimately, I'd like to bring some hard evidence to the city as a way to get some backing for support services. And heck, it could be a fun project and another step towards sparking intentional communities.

jon-
 
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Older Than Dirt

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There is a pretty large literature in social science and epidemiology on counting hard to access populations. i am the author of a couple articles on this topic in my former life as a scientist.

One method that stands out as the best available is "capture-recapture". it comes from wildlife studies. You capture every member of a population you can, tag them, and release. Then you return later and capture as many as possible again, and count how many are tagged vs. untagged.

Then you multiply using various population estimators, but basically if you tag 100 the first time, and on recapture 20% of 100 captures are tagged, you can estimate that the total population is 100 (capture population) * 5 (1/5 were tagged on recapture) = 500.

Applying this to counting heroin users in a given area, we would get the best numbers we could on the percentages of heroin users encountered in various government activities (for example, arresting them, or providing them with treatment). This was the "capture" number (literally in the case of arrests).

Then we would recruit and interview local heroin users and ask them lost of questions including, "have you been arrested by police force A?" (the one we had a "capture" number from), or "gotten treatment B?" (again where we had a "capture" number). The percent answering yes to these questions gave us two "recapture" numbers, multiply and voila! estimates.

Applying these methods to nomads in a given area would be pretty easy- you mention a city. For example: Find out how many nomads get fed at the local bumfeed or food pantry ("capture"), find out how many in an interview sample ate at that bumfeed/got food at that pantry.

Coming up with a national number would be difficult- you would need a national capture number- a known number for something any nomad nationally would have roughly equal odds of doing/not doing- maybe StP membership? Then you would need to ask a national sample (this is the hard part) about that thing, eg "do you post on StP?"
 

Beegod Santana

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Here's an idea. How about you don't. The less attention travelers get the better. I can only see this hurting the community. Just cause some guy in slab city said he's cool with it doesn't mean you should do it.
 

Juan Derlust

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Tough nut to crack - nomads by definition don't stick around. If you're looking to garner services for a specific area by counting heads at a food pantry, chances are local residents are going to oppose anything beyond that. Call me cynical.
 
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Ringo

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Fascinating idea. I like it. It’s probably going to be difficult to get accurate data. Variabilities in people’s habits and lifestyle, the fact we move, and the fact some of us hold down jobs and aren’t getting arrested often would probably make it harder than heroin addicts.
 

Juan Derlust

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In concert w/Begood Santa, outreach generally seems to only benefit a narrow slice, namely those interested in local property values or those seeking housing. Just my observation. Over 5 decades.
 

Ringo

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A good hobo is never seen. What the fuck is so hard to comprehend about that?
it’s just that it’s bullshit, that’s all. Whatever your interpretation of a hobo is, your obvious at some time or another. By your odor, your clothes, the sleeping pad on your backpack or whatever it is.

So what do hard to comprehend about someone’s curiosity of the number of people living nomadic or transient lifestyles? I’d certainly be interested in knowing a number if it were possible. What’s the harm?
 

Beegod Santana

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If you're calling bullshit on rule 1 of the hobo code then I think it's fair to assume you're a little ignorant. Good hobos are never seen, bad hobos give interviews and fuck it up for everyone else. Wanna get a good idea of how many people are actually out there? Go ride for 5 years, you'll get a rough number.
 

Older Than Dirt

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Beegod Santana: Good heavens, so self-righteous!

How would a nomad census conflict with "rule 1 of the hobo code", which is "Decide your own life; don’t let another person run or rule you"?

A good hobo is never seen
are some words that do not appear anywhere in the actual Hobo Code.

Since the code dates from 1889, i think your worry that publicity will
fuck it up for everyone else
is silly. The "Secret Hobo Lifestyle'"has been out in the open for well more than a hundred years.

If you are so pure, why are you on this site, which is surely against your high principles?
 
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Juan Derlust

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I think it's practically impossible to get an accurate (other than ballpark) count, partly because of attitudes like Beegod Santana's. For whatever reason(s), there's always a portion of the population unwilling to participate. I'm not saying it shouldn't be attempted - but here's a perfect example of what needs to be factored in. From a sociological standpoint, it might be interesting to learn the numbers, but what's done with the data rarely seems to work in the nomads' favor.
 

Beegod Santana

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Fucking foamers... Let me break it down for y'all.

Rule 1: Don't be seen.
Rule 2: don't die
Rule 3: don't be a dick.

There's shit on this site that rubs me the wrong way all the time and I just ignore it. But when someone with no posting history says they wanna do a census of travelers and their only connection to the community is that they claim to have met Matt in slab city (a claim not verified by him btw) and the first response is a detailed description of how to do it, fuck ya I'm gonna speak up. Every year or two there's a big media buzz around the traveler community and it always has negative results. Almost always the kids talking to reporters are in their first few months on the road and they without fail always make the rest of us look bad. Sure your curiosity might be harmless, but you know who else wants those numbers? The rail companies, bulls, local pigs and stuck up representatives. And they'll use that data to justify increased crack downs on "dangerous vagrants."

If the "secret hobo lifestyle" is so out in the open why is every other post on this site greenhorns asking basic questions?Like seriously, I'd say about 85% of the people on this site couldn't even draw you a basic rail map of the us.
 
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Beegod Santana

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And I know it sounds elitist, but really if you wanted to do this right, riding for about 5 years solid is about the only way I could actually see you getting an accurate number. By that point though, I suspect you'd realize why this is a fool's mission.
 

Older Than Dirt

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Far from being a "a detailed description of how to do it", my post is a very superficial description that leaves out all the details of actually doing this. Trust me, as someone who did this kind of thing for a living for decades, there are a lot of details to actual implementation of any study, and as they say in the military, "No plan survives initial contact with the enemy".

Research needs to be reviewed and approved by human subjects protection committees (Institutional Review Boards) to make sure that studies do not harm the people that they are studying.

As to folks who don't want to be counted, this is always true with any hidden population- this is what makes them hidden. There are lots of statistical methods for making adjustments to account for this.

On a national scale, this is a multi-million dollar/year project- no one is going to pay for it any time soon. A very rough cost estimate, based on doing similar work for many years, is $500,000/year in each of 25 cities, for a total annual cost of $12.5 million, and then another couple million to analyze the data generated by the 25 cities, so maybe $15 million total. Read my last paragraph again. Doing "recapture" interviews to get any kind of national sample would be very very challenging. If i were doing this, i would definitely be hiring folks with experience "riding for about 5 years solid" as my staff, along with a bunch of statisticians/epidemiologists.

also, Beegod Santana, if you would like to read the actual Hobo Code generations of nomads have lived by, google "Hobo Code 1889".

How would a hobo find work if he/she/they was invisible? Being "never seen" sounds more like some criminal tramp shit than being a hobo. No shaming intended- i was a teenage parasite on society, but if you aren't looking for work when you travel, you ain't no hobo.
 
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Ringo

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Fucking foamers... Let me break it down for y'all.

Rule 1: Don't be seen.
Rule 2: don't die
Rule 3: don't be a dick.

There's shit on this site that rubs me the wrong way all the time and I just ignore it. But when someone with no posting history says they wanna do a census of travelers and their only connection to the community is that they claim to have met Matt in slab city (a claim not verified by him btw) and the first response is a detailed description of how to do it, fuck ya I'm gonna speak up. Every year or two there's a big media buzz around the traveler community and it always has negative results. Almost always the kids talking to reporters are in their first few months on the road and they without fail always make the rest of us look bad. Sure your curiosity might be harmless, but you know who else wants those numbers? The rail companies, bulls, local pigs and stuck up representatives. And they'll use that data to justify increased crack downs on "dangerous vagrants."

If the "secret hobo lifestyle" is so out in the open why is every other post on this site greenhorns asking basic questions?Like seriously, I'd say about 85% of the people on this site couldn't even draw you a basic rail map of the us.
That’s the oogle code of 1998. Get your head out of your ass. Your entitled to an opinion, but your breaking rule #3 and you sound like a moron.
 

Brodiesel710

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And I know it sounds elitist, but really if you wanted to do this right, riding for about 5 years solid is about the only way I could actually see you getting an accurate number. By that point though, I suspect you'd realize why this is a fool's mission.
I agree with your 1. 2. 3. rules. But this 5 year thing isn't true, you can ride trains for years and barely see any other riders. I agree Jonbremonts post was rather weird and I think he might be a little out of touch with what travel culture is and what this community is about. He's not referring to how to count "how many people are currently hopping trains." He's inquiring about the "nomadic lifestyle" which is still up for interpretation. I have never once in my life even used the word nomad, but thats just me. Were all drawn to this forum for different reasons, we have different backgrounds, ideologies (so I hope), but we all identify with what this forum represents, for one reason or another. BUT ITS NOT ALL ABOUT HOPPING TRAINS, only some of us do that.

There are no rules, theres no such thing as blowing up the spot, trains and traveling are for the people, no matter how inexperienced someone is, greenhorn, oogle, foamer, hipster, whatever none of us own the scene or the railroad right of way. This type of entitlement expressed within our culture is toxic. I have been riding trains since 2003 and guess what? Nobody fuckin' cares! Bulls don't care, cops don't care, republicans don't care! I've been given rides by cops to catch out spots! Yes I've have my share of scary arrests and cops with guns drawn, but for the most part I've been given nothing but love and understanding. And nobody needs to know how to draw a US railmap, who cares. Ignorance is bliss.
 

roguetrader

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referring to the original post - a canny traveller is his own 'support service' - while I might use homeless centres occasionally, I sure as shit don't need them (and other services) to get by..... thus I don't need to stand up and be counted to receive 'help' due to me... like Beegod I like the fact we are an unknown quantity rather than a newly created disadvantagd minority....

OP could you elaborate on why you think this is a constructive idea ? using the data to 'form international communities' doesn't make sense to me....
 

roughdraft

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And I know it sounds elitist, but really if you wanted to do this right, riding for about 5 years solid is about the only way I could actually see you getting an accurate number.
one wouldn't get an accurate number, and if one did how would they be able to verify it?

By that point though, I suspect you'd realize why this is a fool's mission.
exactly

curiosity is a beautiful thing but sometimes that's as far as we should go with shit
 

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