The World – The Myth Of The Unbiased Search Engine.

If you use Google, you may want to watch this.  I use DuckDuckGo myself.

Sooo, can Google effect Canadian elections?   Of course it can.  Does the Canadian Government include Google in its election interference threat watch?  Of course not.   It should.

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3 Responses

  1. Jake Gittes
    Jake Gittes at | | Reply

    Who said a collection of private search engines was supposed to be “unbiased?”

    You get different results, depending on when you do a search, how often you do a search, etc.

    “opinionated bastard” will yield one list.

    “The Opinionated Bastard” will yield a different list.

    “Opinionated Bastard Thunder Bay”, will yield a third list, and on and on.

    Lets say the Thunder Bay public Library system has 1,000,000 books. Lets’ say the Lethbridge Alberta library system also has 1,000,000 books.

    Researching virtually anything will result in different volumes, types, and ages of books…Because the results would not be identical, is one, or the other biased?

    I will take a stab that the Lethbrodge Library will have far more books on oil exploration than the TBPL.. I Bet the TBPL, has more books on forestry.

    Good researchers check many sources, and combine them for a result. Weak, lazy researchers will only check one source, and be satisfied with, or complain about the results.

    Most good University Profs (I have just finished my 4rth degree) now specify that for even minor papers, they want several sources to be cited, not just a single one.

  2. Jake Gittes
    Jake Gittes at | | Reply

    “There may be other search engines, but almost nobody uses them.”

    But they exist, if people don’t use them, you can’t make them. It is not as if there is only one, mandated by law.

    “Its as if there was only one library that almost everyone used to do research.”

    But there is more than “one library”. Your last sentence states this.

    “You are limited to those books that the library chooses to have on its shelves.”

    Actually, no. Search engines work at its’ most basic on “popularity”, and what most people are looking for, or what they mean when they use a different phrase. An example is the word “gay.” Searching on it would refer to vastly different things in the 1930’s versus today (and if search engines were around, would yield hugely different results between the two dates.)

    “Some people will make the effort to check other libraries but they are a tiny minority. People are generally lazy.”

    This is true, but it is true for many things…It is why movies, books, etc., promote themselves by their sales rankings in their category. “Canada’s #1 selling sliced cheese”, etc. It is why a researcher will travel to say Florence, as there are more books and museums there on the Renaissance, than say Dryden Ontario, or Toronto, for that matter..

    The whole search engine question comes up because various fringe groups cannot understand why a scheduled meeting for the KKK doesn’t come up first, or on the first page when they search under “social events tomorrow in my home town.” Sorry, the local 4H club, and a major church’s bridge group is far, far more popular.

    They simply can’t believe that what THEY are interested in not popular enough to rank in search results. Search engines are relatively complex, but at its’ core they are popularity contests…It is why what Kim Khardashian’s post on what she had for lunch is ranked higher (or gets more hits) than what happened at the UN for an entire year.

    And old example of group confirmation bias, was by the NYT movie critic Pauline Kael on the election of Richard Nixon. It is often miss – quoted as “I don’t know how Nixon got elected, no one I know voted for him”

    If everyone you know is a member of “the alt right”, you may believe it is a vast movement, that large numbers of people are either joining or interested in. I believe we have all experienced this….Talk to someone whose hobby is model railroading, probably a large number of their friends have the same hobby. To them, the world is full of model railroaders…or like most people, you can spend your entire life, and not run across a single one.

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