Fun with Google Trends

Google Trends is a service Google provides where you can see some interesting statistics on topics that have been searched on Google over time.

Spurred by a post I saw elsewhere on the web I tried out some ‘trend-spotting’ of my own. Interestingly, the country which searches for topics related to ‘sex‘ the most is Pakistan. India comes in at number three and Indonesia at number six. Out of the top ten, six are Muslim majority nations. And the number one city in the list is Bangalore. When it comes to searching about ‘god‘ Philippines comes out on top although the rest of the list is dominated by cities and countries of the developed Western world. The small city state of Singapore is at number five beating the populous nations of India (sixth) and Indonesia (seventh). But funnily enough Philippines also takes the top spot when it comes to searching for ‘atheism‘. The rest of the list is entirely dominated by Western nations with India being the only exception at number nine.

The fact that India features on almost all the trend lists I tried out may have something to do with its large and young population who make up for the world’s third largest in number of Internet users. (China, the largest, of course doesn’t feature in these lists for various reasons!)

If you notice I have refrained from drawing any inferences from these statistics and am merely presenting what I saw. You can draw your own conclusions and try out more keywords at the Google Trends site. And for a perspective on these trends please do also see this chart of the world’s top 20 countries in terms of number of Internet users.

“God is a word for human experience”

“Personally I have no talent for believing in life after death,” Mr. Hendrikse says. “No, for me our life, our task, is before death.”
Nor does Klaas Hendrikse believe that God exists at all as a supernatural thing.
“When it happens, it happens down to earth, between you and me, between people, thats where it can happen. God is not a being at all… its a word for experience, or human experience.”
Mr Hendrikse describes the Bible’s account of Jesus’s life as a mythological story about a man who may never have existed, even if it is a valuable source of wisdom about how to lead a good life.

Mr. Klaas Hendrikse is neither a skeptical atheist nor a pagan non-believer – he is a reverend at the Exodus Church in Gorinchem, central Holland, which is part of the mainstream Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN).

via BBC News – Dutch rethink Christianity for a doubtful world.

The Ig Nobel Prize!

“The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology.”(Link)

Some of the winning achievements over the years:

– BIOLOGY PRIZE, 2008. Marie-Christine Cadiergues, Christel Joubert, and Michel Franc of Ecole Nationale Veterinaire de Toulouse, France for discovering that the fleas that live on a dog can jump higher than the fleas that live on a cat.

– MEDICINE PRIZE, 2008. Dan Ariely of Duke University (USA), Rebecca L. Waber of MIT (USA), Baba Shiv of Stanford University (USA), and Ziv Carmon of INSEAD (Singapore) for demonstrating that high-priced fake medicine is more effective than low-priced fake medicine.

– ECONOMICS PRIZE, 2008. Geoffrey Miller, Joshua Tybur and Brent Jordan of the University of New Mexico, USA, for discovering that professional lap dancers earn higher tips when they are ovulating.

– MEDICINE, 2007: Brian Witcombe of Gloucester, UK, and Dan Meyer of Antioch, Tennessee, USA, for their penetrating medical report “Sword Swallowing and Its Side Effects.”

– LINGUISTICS, 2007: Juan Manuel Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and Núria Sebastián-Gallés, of Universitat de Barcelona, for showing that rats sometimes cannot tell the difference between a person speaking Japanese backwards and a person speaking Dutch backwards.

– PEACE, 2007: The Air Force Wright Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio, USA, for instigating research & development on a chemical weapon — the so-called “gay bomb” — that will make enemy soldiers become sexually irresistible to each other.

– MATHEMATICS, 2006: Nic Svenson and Piers Barnes of the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization, for calculating the number of photographs you must take to (almost) ensure that nobody in a group photo will have their eyes closed.

– MEDICINE, 2005: Gregg A. Miller of Oak Grove, Missouri, for inventing Neuticles — artificial replacement testicles for dogs, which are available in three sizes, and three degrees of firmness.

– ECONOMICS, 2005: Gauri Nanda of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for inventing an alarm clock that runs away and hides, repeatedly, thus ensuring that people DO get out of bed, and thus theoretically adding many productive hours to the workday.

Bible reviews!

I was amazed and amused to see the number and the tone of hundreds of customer reviews of a publication of The Bible available on Amazon! Though a lot were repetitive, some were really funny.

Here are some of my favourites:

“This book should never be left where it could fall into the hands of children. Recurrent themes of bloody violence, murder, racism, incest and rape are dealt with extremely irresponsibly. Horrific events are presented as justified by circumstances and as solutions to petty wrongs. ”

“I found this book to be full of inconsistencies and it seemed to be written by old hippies on LSD, as the stories sound far too fantastic to be believed. All this talk about a ‘virgin birth’, an ark, a ghost rising from the dead, and some dude walking on water are head shakers.”

“…the book wasn’t very good. I would recommend that the author practice more and hone his/her craft before trying again. Work on consistency in story telling, character development, grammar and structure.”

“This seems to be one of those books people seem to either love or hate. But first with the good points. Impatient readers will be happy to see that the plot gets off with a bang: within the first few pages the apple has been eaten and evil is let into the world. We watch as the two main characters Adam and Eve have children and struggle with domestic violence, commencing in the murder of their son Abel by their other son Cain.
…”
This one is quite long but is interesting. So here’s the link.

But the absolute gem is this one!
“This book doesn’t work. I’ve tried the “praying” method to get a new Porsche 996 delivered but to no avail. There’s nothing in the instructions about not wanting German sports cars but I tried praying for less ambitious things. I gave up when it didn’t even get me a Big Mac. In the early part there’s a bit about people crossing the desert and being sustained by manna from heaven, so you’d think that it would be able to manage at least a hamburger.
I’m disappointed and will contact the publisher. In the meantime I can’t recommend this book as it is clearly faulty.” Link