Type the word "scary" and names of Republican candidates for president into a leading database of articles. The name of the former New York mayor will get the most hits.
Hey, that's kind of what we do for phoniness! Mainstream media reporters can be just as lazy as low-tier bloggers! Let's check the Google to see how its results match up against "a leading database of articles":
|Query String||Hit Count|
|"Hillary Clinton" scary||806,000|
|"Ron Paul" scary||686,000|
|"Barack Obama" scary||585,000|
|"John Edwards" scary||514,000|
|"John McCain" scary||456,000|
|"Rudy Giuliani" scary||371,000|
|"Mitt Romney" scary||364,000|
|"Fred Thompson" scary||329,000|
|"Dennis Kucinich" scary||226,000|
|"Mike Huckabee" scary||168,000|
Clearly, at least according to the Google, Rudy's far from the scariest
candidate. Even among Republicans, he's merely number 3. How could
our results be so different from those obtained
by Ellen, the intrepid Reuters reporter?
Roy Neary from Close Encounters of the Third Kind: "This means
something. This is important."
Well, maybe not that important. I'd wager that the search universe Ellen used (Nexis, probably?) is filled with people who find Rudy scarier than the Whole Wide World indexed by the Google. I'd make a further (smaller, but still non-zero) wager that Ellen tried Googling first—because, really, who wouldn't?—resorting to Nexis only to get the result she was looking for.
The Reuters article linked above (of course)
comes in at the top of the Google hit
parade for Rudy. Call it the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
applied to search results:
writing an article about the
search hits you get against a certain phrase will itself
increase the hit count for that phrase.
There's an impressive correlation between "phony" hits and "scary" hits.
Almost without exception, the scary rankings above
are identical to the phony rankings
we gathered last week. (The exception: Dennis Kucinich, who the Google finds to be
scarier than Mike Huckabee, but less phony.)
Also, for a given candidate, the "scary" hits are (without exception)
greater than the
"phony" hits. Does this mean (generally) that candidates are scarier
than they are phony? Well, that's understandable, I guess. We can call
that the Wizard of Oz Principle: people find these guys scary,
but they're really just phony. You should pay more attention to the men
(and woman) behind the curtain.
Ron Paul got some collateral-damage scary hits due to a
recent Jonah Goldberg column headlined: "Ron Paul isn't that scary".
And Jonah's bottom line is: what Mike Huckabee represents is
I would not vote for Paul mostly because I think his foreign policy would be disastrous (and because he'd lose in a rout not seen since Bambi versus Godzilla). But there's something weird going on when Paul, the small-government constitutionalist, is considered the extremist in the Republican Party while Huckabee, the statist, is the lovable underdog. It's even weirder because it's probably true: Huckabee is much closer to the mainstream. And that's what scares me about Huckabee and the mainstream alike.Indeed.
Of course, there are also cheap shots. Looking at the image
results for our Number One Scary Candidate
will cough up multiple occurrences of:
… well, maybe they have a point there.
Whereas for Rudy, you'll merely get this:
… scary only to people with an unusual aversion to recreational cross-dressers, I think. (More costumed Rudy pictures here, if you're into that sort of thing. Sicko.)
And for our man Fred Thompson:
Scary? Hmph. Maybe to terrorists and hippies.