January 6, 2009

The perils of opinionating by Google anecdote

Mona Charon works up some where's-the-outrage outrage:

"Just for a lark, I decided to google 'international condemnations of Hamas' this morning. You can guess what came up, right?"

Well, I could guess, but I decided to check instead. And what do you know, Charon's actually right. Other than her own column (and a couple of other people making the exact same point) a search for that exact phrase turns up zero results. Point proven.

Except that, just for a lark, I decided to Google "international condemnations of Israel." This time other than Charon's column (which uses both phrases), here are the complete results:

Soon the international condemnations of Israel will start, or maybe thay already have started, but I doubt if the Israeli government will take them too much into account. And I cannot blame the government for that. Where are those condemnations whenever Israeli citizens are deliberately targeted by Palestinian rockets?

As part of a general report on the international condemnations of Israel, following the IDF anti-terrorism offensive, the Syrian news agency described a recent terrorist attack in Haifa.

So if Iranian-supplied and Hezbollah-launched rockets were designed to kill and maim civilians in the most grotesque ways possible - and they were in fact aimed at civilians... and if Israel's bombs were designed to take out military installations in the most bloodless ways possible - and they were in fact aimed at military installations... What could be driving the obsessive, entirely one-sided international condemnations of Israel?

Meanwhile, international condemnations of Israel’s military actions in Lebanon continue.

It's a key call for action, amplifying other recent UN and international condemnations of Israel's “apartheid” policies.

International condemnations of Israel and Security Council resolutions cannot trump a basic fact: No nation can survive by appeasing or cooperating with enemies dedicated to their destruction.

If a TRUE Jewish leader does not emerge in the near future, Israel will have to face the Iranian version of the Final Solution; a well coordinated 7-pronged plan of attack:
-Hamas missiles and land attack
-Hizbollah missile attack
-West bank uprising
-Syrian missile attack
-Israeli Arab uprising
-Iran missile attack (nuclear preferred)
-Broad International condemnations of Israel
The ONLY solution requires balls that are completely missing from the Israeli equation.; An offensive the likes of which the enemy has never seen or would possibly expect including extremely high death toll numbers on both sides.

I, like many supporters of Israel, find the international condemnations of Israel in this and similar cases hollow and hypocritical because the same condemnations do not generally follow Palestinian attacks.

I think it would be beneficial if the Security Council were to abolish permanent status, so that member states such as the U.S. weren't able to simply veto global initiatives that weren't in their personal interest. (Such as international condemnations of Israel.)

So there you have it.... whatever it is. Perhaps tallying Google results for randomly chosen phrases isn't actually the best way to calibrate moral outrage. Are there any other numbers we could compare instead?

Posted by Daniel Radosh


Her very premise in putting a phrase like that into a search engine shows a fundamental inability to understand the difference between use and mention (as borne out in your subsequent cites), or an inability to understand what a search engine actually does, or both.

Jon Stewart devoted a good chunk of last night's Daily Show to covering the coverage, and came to the opposite conclusion -- at least in regards to intranational condemnations. (Jump to the 3:50 mark or so for the more relevant bits.) If Mona Charon considers Jimmy Carter part of the international community, I assume the rest of America counts too.

(But really I'd say that domestic coverage of this conflict has been relatively well fair and balanced, and generally representative of the fact that the Western media aren't so fervently solipsistic as they were ten years ago. Now, both sides come off as victims and, simultaneously, total dicks. Charon may consider that latent antisemitism, but I'd call it increasingly conscientious war reportage.)

P.S., Mona, no one ever won a Pulitzer siding with the Bush administration on anything. See?

"International condemnations of Al Qaeda" has zero results, too:


I think it's just the difference between the responsibilities of a country versus those of a movement/paramilitary org/political party. I'm totally with Jon Stewart, though.

"International condemnation [not plural] of Hamas" is a better search, which yields a number of results. As you found in your "International condemnations of Israel" search, using the plural tends to lead to articles with sort of meta-discussion of international condemnation. That is, people talking about people talking about people talking about international condemnation.

I Googled "randomly chosen phrases" and got 268 hits.

(Just tryin' to help)

The exact phrase "mona charon is useless turd of a human being" turns up one more hit than "international condemnations of Hamas."

How come when I Google 'international condemnations of Hamas' I get 99,100 results? Googling just "condemn hamas" returns almost two million results -- including the salient tidbit that Nicole Kidman is one of many Hollywood employees who condemns Hamas. I'm certain Kidman went public about this opinion independently, without consulting her publicist or agent, aren't you? Just sayin' ...

Googling "condemnations of daniel radosh's pink shirt" returns 162 results, including:

"A cross-dressing, bearded Hasidic man wearing blue eye shadow and pink pumps ..... whose 16-year-old son, Daniel, committed suicide on Yom Kippur in 1993 ...
protocols.blogspot.com/2004_10_24_protocols_archive.html - 136k - Cached - Similar pages

How can u compare condeming a resistance (that killed what 7 israelies this year) with condemning those that are illegally occupying others land, shut them into a tiny corner cut off all access points starving them off then go and kill over 500 in what a week, god knowz and over a thousand injured..

You condemn people who perform barbaric acts, not those that fight for their land back, if the indians fought the pilgrims and the pilgrims wiped out or expelled half the indians which group would u condemn?


We are all great apes, sharing virtually identical DNA. Let's all Google "international condemnations of those who amass fortunes in the billions and trillions from lying, thieving, enslaving, demonizing and killing (the only way really)."

How can u compare...

Looks like Mona's not the only one using the Google.

Indeed, according to my Internet research, nothing compares 2 u.

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