May 12, 2017

Our deepest, darkest secrets. On the internet. Credit: thierry ehrmann / Flickr Creative Commons 

Think about the last thing you searched for in Google. And the thing before that. And the thing before that. Those searches would probably offer a pretty good picture of who you are and what you’re interested in. At least, that’s according to Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author of the book Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are, who believes that the questions we ask online often reflect what we truly think.

Three Takeaways:
  • People might not want to admit that race plays a factor in their voting, but it does. Take Obama’s 2008 election: By taking a look at the country’s Google searches, Stephens-Davidowitz found that places with high amounts of racist queries correlated almost perfectly with places where Obama did worse than other Democratic candidates.
  • Doesn’t having mutual friends mean a relationship is more likely to work out? Nope. The more mutual friends a couple has on Facebook, the less likely a relationship is to work out.
  • People are really insecure about sex. And that’s reflected in their Google searches. Men make more searches about their penis than any other body part.
More Reading:

Here’s a piece of our conversation that we couldn’t fit into the show, about what searches show us about who is gay, and whether they want to reveal that publicly.

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, science and tech, data

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