The Null Device

Venn diagram of religious stereotypes

Some anonymous person entered the phrase "why are religion so" into Google, and plotted the completions it suggested (based on past searches) in a Venn diagram, coming up with this map of stereotypes:
It's interesting to note that no trait is popularly attributed to all three of the Abrahamic religions. (Perhaps the average web user can't spell "monotheistic"?)

Meanwhile, typing "why are atheists so" suggests the words "stupid", "smart", "intolerant", "mean", "annoying", "angry", "hateful", "hated" and "awesome".

There are 2 comments on "Venn diagram of religious stereotypes":

Posted by: Greg Sat Oct 23 20:57:04 2010

It intrigues me that enough people type "why are X so Y" into Google for there to be common results! Surely people don't expect many websites to contain that exact phrase? You'd expect more pages to include "X are Y because". I guess Google must transform the former text so that the latter are found.

I went to test this and as soon as I typed "why are" I got "why are viruses referred to as obligate parasites" and "why are women like parking spaces". (I don't recommend anyone follow up the latter.) Are these the two most common "why" questions asked by humankind today?? (I hope this result was not influenced by my personal search history.)

When I typed an extra random noun (why are cars, why are stars, why are dogs ...) it seems that, contrary to my first thought, some people do title their pages "why are stars different colours" and so on, but that on the other hand Google does return pages that merely contain "stars" and "different colours".

Try "why do", "why have", and "why we" ..

Posted by: acb Sun Oct 24 02:28:19 2010

I imagine the former may be influenced by what Google knows about you; perhaps their model has variables on users, which correspond to educational level, cultural orientation and so on, so they don't show microbiological autocompletions to Joe Sixpack who dropped out of high school. (And, if they want to be sneaky, so they can advertise rivals' products in ways tailored to be unflattering; witness the "watch celebrity videos on Bing" ad I mentioned earlier.)

As for the second one, since crude jokes cut across demographics, I suspect everyone might get that one. Unless, perhaps, they're particularly prim and prudish.

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