A Vox article accuses millions of Americans of racism and selfishness due to their Google searches, despite lacking context.
Vox writer Sean Illing’s Tuesday piece titled “Persuasive proof that America is full of racist and selfish people” cites research conducted by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author of “Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are.”
Stephens-Davidowitz research shows “searches containing racist epithets and jokes” rose during the presidential primaries. However, Illing only cites then-candidate Donald Trump as running and equates the search data as “clues” Trump was a “serious” contender.
The glaring issue here is not only the lack of context for each search – such as the race of the individuals searching and the intent of the search – but also the direct accusation that Trump and his supporters are racists. This claim is wrong considering many of the areas that carried Trump to victory in the general election previously voted for Obama.
As aforementioned, neither the research nor the article addresses the race of the individuals conducting the questionable searches. Additionally, Illing never clarifies what phrases qualify as a racial “epithets” or “jokes.” These key discrepancies have the potential to change the entire landscape of the research.
Stephens-Davidowitz did not immediately respond The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for clarification.
The Vox piece goes on to opine that Google searches prove Americans are selfish, as well.
Illing asks Stephens-Davidowitz about how engaged the average American is in being a “warrior for justice,” and it turns out not so much.
“I think a lot of people exaggerate the extent to which they’re anxious about Trump,” Stephens-Davidowitz says. “If you look at what really keeps people up at night, what really wakes them up at 3:00 am in a cold sweat, it tends to be economic concerns or health paranoia or legal fears — basically selfish concerns. But I think there’s something a little bit unpleasant about that fact. People like to say that they’re anxious about more global concerns about Trump and what he might do to the world, rather than more selfish concerns about one’s own economics or health or legal problems.”
Apparently, tending to your own health and financial concerns as opposed to supposed objective social injustice makes you a self-centered disappointment, according to the article.
While there is no denying that Google searches can be useful and informational, it is crucial to take a closer look at the criteria, data and political spin on analyses such as this one.
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