Sunday, July 03, 2005

Fun With Numbers: Google and the Commercial Appeal

Found this column in Sunday's online CA. It only credits a "Mark Watson" as the author, with no other identifying information or contact info. Does the paper version also skimp?

Anyway, it's a brief and superficial look at modern day "invective" that ends with something called "extreme googling." Watson apparently went to Google and did some quick and dirty searches. His results?

Democrat + Communist = 693,000 hits
Republican Party + fascist = 503,000
Democrat + traitor or treason = 396,000
Republican Party + Nazi = 224,000

Something didn't feel right (why was "Party" used in connection with the Republicans?) so I did my own "extreme googling" and here's what I found:

Democrat + Communist = 805,000 hits
Republican Party + fascist = 586,000
Democrat + traitor = 149,000
Democrat + treason = 225,000
Republican Party + Nazi = 1,340,000

Now, I know Google is changing all the time, but look at some of those differences, especially the last one, more than a million hits off. Did anyone at the Commercial Appeal even fact check this before it went to print? How difficult could it be to fact check this? I did it in ten minutes.

I then did some more word pairs. First was to drop the "Party" from the two Republican searches:
Republican + fascist = 581,000 hits
Republican + Nazi = 826,000

Note that the last one is still four times what Watson claims in his column. But wait, there's more!

Clinton + impeach = 352,000 hits
Clinton + communist = 1,190,000
Clinton + socialist = 809,000
Clinton + traitor = 200,000
Clinton + blowjob = 333,000
Clinton + bj = 369,000

Bush + Hitler = 2,320,000
Bush + fascist = 774,000
Bush + impeach = 739,000
Bush + chimp = 660,000
Bush + idiot = 1,780,000

Interesting, if ultimately meaningless. Still, the king of invective is "Bush and Hitler" and the worst slingers of invective are the Democrats. Like you didn't already know that....

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