Something rotten in Denmark?

| 129 Comments | 2 TrackBacks

Never underestimate the ID advocates’ propensity for wishful thinking. Bill Dembski has just informed his acolytes that “International interest in ID is growing.” (bold in the original). The reason? Well, according to Dembski, Australians search for “intelligent design” via the Google engine at 6 times the rate per person of their American counterparts. The Danes, a whopping 20 times as much!

Before you start thinking that something is rotten in Denmark, and planning a moral boycott of delicious jelly-filled pastries by relabeling them “Darwin rolls” or something, think again. The only rotten thing here is Dembski’s understanding of how the comparative Google searches are tabulated, despite the fact that the information is clearly shown on the Google site.

Dembski says:

Google trends for searching on “intelligent design” The following Google graph shows trends for searches on “intelligent design”: http://www.google.com/trends?q=Inte[…]amp;date=all. Click on the “regions” tab. It shows that Australia has about half the searches for ID that the US does. Given that Australia’s population is about 20 million, that means that if the US population is 250 million, Australia searches for ID on average 6 times more per person than does the US. And given that Denmark has only a quarter of the population of Australia, Danes must be searching for ID >20 times more than Americans. International interest in ID is growing.

Now, if you follow that link, and click on the “Regions” tab in the lower panel, indeed you will see that the US is the top region for Google searches on ID, followed by Australia, Denmark, Canada, etc. However, you will also see a link, right next to the “Top regions” label that says “normalized”. If you are a PhD mathematician, like Dembski, or even if you just have completed high school, you should know what that means. It means that the values shown are not absolute numbers of searches, but are ratios of the searches versus some other variable. If you follow that link, you find that in fact

Google Trends calculates the ratio of searches for your term coming from each city divided by total Google searches coming from the same city. … The Regions and Languages tabs work just like the Cities tab.

In other words, relatively to all the local Google searches (which of course corrects for population size, as well as use of internet and of the Google search engine in particular), Australians search for ID just about half as often as Americans, and Danes about a third as much. Luckily, Andorra does not appear in the list of top regions, because Dembski would have probably concluded that Pyrenean mountaineers spend all their time obsessively Googling for ID info.

But going back to the Google Trends page, there is in fact some interesting info there. If you look at the graph at the top, which represents the actual trend in the search volume, you will see that Google searches for ID peaked dramatically during the Kitzmiller trial, especially around the verdict, but have been steadily declining since, and have returned to values comparable to pre-Kitzmiller levels. So, global “interest in ID” (as crudely measured by Google search ratios), has not grown discernibly despite the enormous publicity afforded by the Kitzmiller trial. Indeed, it seems that most web surfers read about Judge Jones’s ruling that ID is just “creation science” repackaged, and went on ignoring the topic, just as they did before. But hey, who knows, a few more resounding legal defeats, and people may indeed take notice.

2 TrackBacks

He must be one of those very abstract types who never looks at data, doesn't understand statistics, and has never heard of the word "normalized." In a post that is a microcosmic analog of the whole Intelligent Design paradigm, Dembski... Read More

Demski and basic concepts from The Politburo Diktat on June 16, 2006 1:48 PM

Leading IDiot Bill Demski claims that international interest in Intelligent Design (ID) is growing, based on a Google Trends search he did. No. Bill cannot tell the difference between relative and absolute numbers, a simple concept. Google Trends compa... Read More

129 Comments

Good grief. Are suggesting that Dembski might be a liar or a fool?

No, simply a mathematician who’s a little vague on basic stat.

Dembski does have a degree in mathematics doesn’t he?

Even if he didn’t know the particulars, the numbers should have tipped him off.

Another factor is that it could be that Americans search under more varied terms, like “Dembski”, “creationism”, and “Dover” for information regarding ID. In all probability, we know more of the terms associated with ID than do Europeans and Australians, thus might not use “intelligent design” as often when searching.

Perhaps more importantly, he doesn’t know how many outside of the US are searching for “intelligent design” to find out how so many Americans can be so stupid. I expect the Danes mostly just laugh at him.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

What a beautiful story!

Buffalo Bill lives up to his name, and then he gets slapped around by someone that really DOES know science and what they are talking about. It doesn’t get much better than this early on a Friday. Thanks Andrea!

ps- When can we expect the correction from Dr Buffalo and his minion DaveScott? And when does DaveScott get promoted from minion to lackey?

I’ve got a copy before it erm, ‘disappears’.

Good grief. Are suggesting that Dembski might be a liar or a fool?

In this case, neither. As I said, it is probably just a case of wishful thinking. When you are starved for good news, and you think that you may be on a roll in Denmark, you don’t question the data, you take it.

(It kind of reminds me of the ending of This is Spinal Tap, when at the end of their disastrous tour, Nigel Tuffnail comes back and announces to the band that their new record has hit the charts in Japan, so they pack up and go.)

Can you petition to have someone’s PhD Un-granted?

Seriously, I wonder if what we have here is a whiff of desperation. Not only is he deceptive or not paying attention (take your pick), but this is the same man who things attention Ann Coulter will bring to ID will be beneficial to ID. ID has had many setbacks, and this is just grasping at straws now.

As I put it on my blog, “Intelligent Design jumps multiple sharks, speeds into the stratosphere yelling ‘Yee-ha’, and vanishes in a flash of light and a little ‘ting’ noise”

He should recognize the word ‘normalized’. It’s right there on the top of the graph. But, more seriously, anyone who looks at that graph, knowing the relative population sizes of these countries, and doesn’t realize instantly the data must be per capita or normalized in some equivalent way, is simply not doing the very basic input processing any scientist does when he/she looks at data.

If an undergraduate chemistry student made this sort of mistake, it would cause me to question if they were cut out for a scientific career.

HEY, AS PREDICTED IT DISSAPEARED!

Do you want the copy?

Based on previous threads over there, I think we can expect that he may print an update to the thread saying he was wrong, then several posters commending him on how noble he is for admitting it, which makes him so much better than the nasties on the other side. Sound about right? No one will question his motives, method, or lack of judgement…just a big ol pat on the back for being a good sport.

No, Dembski is quite right. International support for ID is growing.…among fundamentalist Jews, for example. Of course, it’s still nothing at all to do with religion! ;-)

Did anyone read Shermer’s column in the latest issue of Scientific American? He cited MRI studies which showed that statements like these don’t cause ANY activity in the brain centers devoted to analytical thinking. They excite the emotional nodes, and the satisfaction nodes. Dembski saw what he wanted to see.

It must suck to be Dembski…

Hi, nice stuff,y ou should compare ID with creationism and evolution:

url href=”http://www.google.com/trends?q=crea[…]amp;date=all

Obviously, the peaks relate to news coverage.

Apparently Dembski took a few lessons in propaganda manufacture in exchange for helping a certain harpy with her latest screed.

Hey, do you think they might hook up and start popping out young ‘uns? What do you get when you cross a Coulter and a Dembski, and will the hybrid be as sterile as the ideologies they represent individually?

C’mon people. He knows very well that he is deceaving people. You gotta realize, that his post is aimed at your average American God-fearing Joe/Jane (~80% US population), who will gobble it up and pray for more.

Rich - The article is still up. 4 sycophants have commented at this time, telling Buffalo Bill how great he and ID are… I am sure you are just prescient though, and it is only a matter of time before the article DOES go away

I dont find their ideologies sterile. They’re highly infectious.

Increasing numbers of searches for “intelligent design” do not indicate increasing acceptance of the theology. I search “intelligent design” everyday just to keep track of the latest news on the net. I am however vehemently against ID.

The counting methods and results aside, I (in the U.S.) do a google “news” search everyday on “intelligent design” to stay abreast of any entertaining news.

My “interest” is that of ridicule and staying informed - hardly an ID constructive interest. Point - “interest” runs both ways.

Dave

The fecal matter is about to hit the winnowing roters… a UD poster just pointed out the “normalizing” error made and asked Dr D if his post was correct.…

This is like watching a train wreck… Ouch! That’s gotta leave a mark…

Thank-you, ejuve:

Increasing numbers of searches for “intelligent design” do not indicate increasing acceptance of the theology. I search “intelligent design” everyday just to keep track of the latest news on the net. I am however vehemently against ID.

While I definitely think it funny that The Isaac Newton of Information Muddling gets his math wrong…nice catch, isn’t the stupidest thing about his claim:

(Googling a thing) = (Support of said thing)

The great majority of my students understand this difference, and some of them are 12 year-olds.

Northern Ireland surely must feature as one of the top regions for interest in ID:

http://www.sec-ed.co.uk/cgi-bin/go.[…]tml?uid=1218

And it’s not even the parents or boards of governors pushing for it here. It’s actually the pupils themselves !

J-Dog wrote:

This is like watching a train wreck… Ouch! That’s gotta leave a mark…

The train wreck already happened – what you’re seeing is the mark.

Americans are now mostly morons and here is more evidence that they elect Southern Republican morons to represent them: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellis[…]b_23169.html

Eventually, they’ll make laws against smart people and we’ll all be purged.

See! All that mercury was causing brain damage!

And heck, even if we were going to allow Google Trend results to stand in the place of actual arguments, it still doesn’t look good for ID. Couldn’t even imagine applying Dembski’s ignorance of normalization to these results…

a UD poster just pointed out the “normalizing” error made and asked Dr D if his post was correct

I pointed that out a couple of hours ago, but they didn’t post my comment.

Probably I should have left out the question asking what brand of crackerjack hands out math Ph.D.s these days.

Try Google Trends: Intelligent design vs FSM to see who is coming on strong…

Ramen

(Googling a thing) = (Support of said thing)

Let’s not mis-quote here. Billy Boy said “interest in” not “support of”.

Comment #106104

Posted by Peter Henderson on June 16, 2006 02:19 PM (e)

Northern Ireland surely must feature as one of the top regions for interest in ID:

http://www.sec-ed.co.uk/cgi-bin/go.pl/news/artic

And it’s not even the parents or boards of governors pushing for it here. It’s actually the pupils themselves !

Of course they are! With evolution you have to understand a lot of complex stuff that requires a lot of study and memorization. Then you have to disgorge it on a long, complicated examination.

With ID you can just write: “Goddidit” and get your “A.” That’ll leave 45 minutes left for playing with your Tamagotchi or whatever it is you want to do for the rest of the period…

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 1, column 54, byte 54 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

About what? By the way, I was also at UCSB.

hey, I’m just following your own logic.

you’re simply wrong.

deal with it.

what difference does it make what you’re wrong about?

what are you? some kind of expert on all things wrong, or something?

look, obviously you never actually took a course in statistics at UCSB, or you would have learned that the majority of 1st year statistics IS probability, and a good portion of higher level statistics, simply can’t proceed without a very good background in probability to begin with.

so, you’re wrong that an expert in statistics is irrelevant to judge Dembski’s use of probability.

there. that better for ya?

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 1, column 54, byte 54 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

did you say that?

yup:

I still contend there is no one here who is really qualified to criticize arguments involving measure-theoretic probability or mathematical statistics.

really, you’re building a strawman here by invoking “measure-theoretic probability”.

deal with it.

How do you get “…[A]n expert in statistics is irrelevant to judge Dembski’s use of probability” out of “I still contend there is no one here who is really qualified to criticize arguments involving measure-theoretic probability or mathematical statistics”?

Robert, I’m a little puzzled why you, uh, think anyone here should give a flying fig what you think?

Perhaps you could explain that for me … ?

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 1, column 54, byte 54 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

How do you get “…[A]n expert in statistics is irrelevant to judge Dembski’s use of probability” out of “I still contend there is no one here who is really qualified to criticize arguments involving measure-theoretic probability or mathematical statistics”?

ahh, multiple pardons; for some strange reason I thought you were actually responding to something actually related to the topic of the contributing post.

I had no idea you were simply trolling, OT.

please, continue. I guess I’ll wait until you have anything to say on topic.

:p

It don’t make no nevermind to me; people are free to take my posts or leave them as they see fit.

I see. So you’re just trolling, and can be safely ignored.

Got it.

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This page contains a single entry by Andrea Bottaro published on June 16, 2006 12:52 PM.

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