Google and Statistical Bias

“The number one criticism of Johnson is that he’s a dipshit who can’t work Google: if only the poor fool were slick enough to type ‘apple fruit’ or ‘granny smith’ in the search bar, he wouldn’t get three pages of computer links. That may be true, but that’s the point: apple, the fruit, is conceptually prior to Apple, the computer, and the fact that Google doesn’t spit out any links whatsoever related to the fruit without one refining one’s search criteria reflects all sorts of different biases on the part of those using the engine, and thus on the engine itself.” analyticGoogle and Statistical Bias (Analytic)

While I criticized Johnson’s apple example in a previous post, I agree with him that Google exhibits a bias. Here’s part of a comment I made on analytic’s weblog:

Language has meaning only in context. Anyone who uses a computer to search for “apple” ought to expect a pro-computer bias, just as anyone who walks into a grocery store and asks for an opinion on apples ought to expect a food bias.