Google Trends and Fundamentalist America

Fundamentalist America is aflutter.  One of Fundamentalism’s favorite sons made a big splash last week.

After David Barton’s appearance on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show to promote his new book The Jefferson Lies, the Beckite Blaze reported that the term “David Barton” had surged to number one on the list of trendy Google search terms.

When I followed up, I couldn’t confirm The Blaze‘s claim.  When I checked Google’s “Hot Searches” for May 2, 2012, Barton shows up as number nine.

The experience led to me tinker around a little bit with Google Trends.  Now, I know I need to apologize for my lateness at showing up to this party.  This is yet another example of the way I am far behind the times in finding out about the possibilities of the Google Mothership.

But I want to share a few of the interesting results for those outsiders interested in Fundamentalist America.  First, for those who are as backwards as I am, I’ll explain the premise a little bit.  Google Trends gives users a chance to find out how many people have Googled specific terms over time.  Today (May 5, 2012), many of the hottest search terms concern the recent death of Beastie Boy Adam Yauch.  In general, it seems as if the biggest topics in the daily news tend to attract the most Google searches.

But Google Trends also lets us see what people are googling over time.  If we want to understand what googling Americans are interested in, it gives us a chance to find out.  Now, I won’t make any claims that these results are definitive.  We can’t know very much about the intentions of googlers.  But there are still a few interesting results that I want to share, just to give everyone something to think about.

For example, I checked the trends for terms in tandem and got some interesting results.  For instance, “evolution” has trumped “creationism” by a long sight for the past several years.  On the other hand, comparing the google history of “Bible” and “Origin of Species” shows a huge tilt toward Bible googlers.    And, in the past few years at least, Jesus has almost always been comfortably bigger than the Beatles.  In fact, “Jesus” as a search term has held a comfortable lead over most other topics I could think of, including “David Barton,” “atheism,” and even “cats,” although “cats” seemed to hold its own pretty well.

What does all this tell us about Fundamentalist America?  Not much, really.  But it does demonstrate the enduring popularity of Christian terminology on Google.  Of course, people Google all sorts of different terms for all sorts of reasons.  Are there any other term comparisons that can tell us something about the nature and meaning of life in Fundamentalist America?

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  1. In Search Of . . . Love in an Age of Culture War « I Love You but You're Going to Hell

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