February 8, 2011
Please Don't Use Google!
Do you know how important artichokes are? A Google search generated over 9.8 million hits! Astonishing. But that is nothing compared to crochet, which gives over 20.3 million results. So if you are going to crochet an artichoke, well, you are clearly in the forefront of a massive cultural phenomenon!
Every time I read someone quote a statistic about the number of hits on Google, I’m ready to throw the book, burn the magazine or savagely take my blue pencil to the computer screen. Could there possibly be a more lame, weak, meaningless way to make a point (except possibly for quoting a definition from the dictionary)?
Why should writers and speakers stop using Google as a supposed source of statistical authority? Much like using dictionary definitions,
It’s lazy. Instead of actually doing the work of some meaningful research, we try to get by with typing a few keystrokes.
It seems authoritative but it’s not. The Internet is massive. You can get millions of hits on just about anything. If everything looks important, then nothing is important--including your statistics. A huge number of hits on Google proves nothing because it can prove anything.
It replaces actual thinking with pointless numbers. A number doesn’t have any significance till we take the time and effort to put it in a valid context.
There can hardly be anything more important than this in effective communication. How do I know? Because “number of hits on Google” gave me 50 million hits.