Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Be skeptical of hasty conclusions drawn from google search suggestions

There's a patheos article going around with an image of google searches beginning with "atheists should" .. I figured it must be grossly exaggerated so I decided to try it and received the same result. Shocking? I'm not surprised. See here below:

That said, it strikes me that these two words are clearly part of a negative statement and so google's algorithm is only returning those search phrases most in line with it ...

But what about other phrases?

Next I tried with Christianity:

And then Islam:

And then for good measure a couple more:

Note that neither children nor cute puppies resulted in any suggestion from google... My educated guess is that there simply aren't enough people inclined to form a negative search string for "children" and "cute puppies." But when I did it with spiders I think I received expected results... The bunnies list of suggestion was odd...

I am not claiming this to be a scientific study, in fact I'm suggesting that this shows that we should be far more skeptical of any data taken from this type of sample: people aiming to look for other negative postings.