google2 Playing with Google Experiments

I’ve just been playing with google’s new “experiments” and if your as much of a geek as me, they’re pretty addictive. My favourite, called Ngram searches every word of every book that has been uploaded to google books and plots a graph based on the proportion of books printed every year containing that word. Here are my results from throwing a few comparison terms at the database..

NB: I’ve had this post sitting ready to be upped for a while because it’s more than a little bit silly. I’ve got some reservations about the strange patterns in some of the graphs Ngram puts out. I’m finally posting it now after reading a great critique published yesterday by David Berreby of the use of “Ngrams” in research. In particular, the proposition made by Robert Kurzban who questions the progress of psychology as a field based on a couple of Ngrams (and theory based on Meehl’s classic 1978 paper) . So read on, with an extra shake of salt.

rb2 large gray Playing with Google Experiments

Meehl, P. (1978). Theoretical risks and tabular asterisks: Sir Karl, Sir Ronald, and the slow progress of soft psychology. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 46 (4), 806-834 DOI: 10.1037//0022-006X.46.4.806

rb2 large gray Playing with Google Experiments

Michel JB, Shen YK, Aiden AP, Veres A, Gray MK, The Google Books Team, Pickett JP, Hoiberg D, Clancy D, Norvig P, Orwant J, Pinker S, Nowak MA, & Aiden EL (2010). Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books. Science (New York, N.Y.) PMID: 21163965

Science beats religion in the intellectual horserace way back in the 1860’s..

Science vs religion3 Playing with Google Experiments

..But the battle with GOD himself has come to a stalemate

science vs god1 Playing with Google Experiments

God even starts to make a comeback in the 1980’s… but why?

Religion God Ngram Playing with Google Experiments

Just the first hypothesis off the top of my head… could it have been to do with the outbreak of…

AIDS in books Playing with Google Experiments

FAIL is still winning in the eternal battle against WIN..

win vs fail Playing with Google Experiments

Here’s a couple for the ladies…

Feminism Playing with Google Experiments

man vs woman Playing with Google Experiments

Just for fun… the age of Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll

Sex Drugs Music Playing with Google Experiments

What about the reefer madness?

Cannabis vs Marijuana Playing with Google Experiments

LSD research explodes, until the global ban

Cannabis vs Marijuana vs LSD Playing with Google Experiments

Have a go yourself with the google experiment for yourself here! I’ll post the best ones left in the comment box below this post. Another fun research tool is the google news timeline and theres tonnes more “experiments” here. Below is google’s ad for the whole thing. Google doesn’t make beers, but if google made beers..

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  • Dave

    I created a Facebook page where people can share interesting ngrams. Check it out here:

    • Neurobonkers

      Love it!

  • cervantes

    It seems not to have occurred to anyone that the frequency of the word “man” has declined because it used to be a synonym for “humanity” or people – in fact it wast the most common literary term. That usage is now frowned upon, so the word “man” is encountered only when writers are actually referring to an adult male human. Whether the frequency with which actual men vs. women are named in literature has changed cannot be determined from this graph.

    There are probably lots of similar issues but I don’t feel like looking for them.

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