Because the universe is beautiful enough without having to lie about it

Computational Skepticism

July 27th, 2008 Posted in General, Internet

Great news, folks – I think I’ve found my niche.  I was wondering exactly how I could help in the world of Skepticism, and I was rapidly learning that what the world doesn’t need is yet another skeptic blog simply parroting what the others say. Then I began to think – is there actually anything that I’m any good at? And then I realised that there’s really not enough good work on computational skepticism.

What’s computational skepticism, I hear you asking? Well, that’s a good question.  It’s using computers to provide tools and educational materials for skepticism.  And that’s what I’m starting work on right away.

I started on this today, by investigating the kind of information we can get that might help us gauge how well the Skeptic community is doing in the fight against nonsense and pseudoscience. So I was thinking, I wonder what’s happening in the world of spirit mediumship these days? And how can I work that out? Ah, what about Google trends?

Google trends is one of the greatest things ever.  No hyperbole. It provides data on the trend over time in searches on Google for different terms.  So one can investigate, for example, Barrack Obama, and see how his popularity has gone up as a result of the US presidential race. As expected, his popularity was negligible before 2006, and then began to increase substantially as the primaries got underway.  I’ve grabbed the raw data from Google and cleaned it up a bit.

Google Trend for Barrack Obama

Google Trend for Barrack Obama

So, what about mediumship? Let’ say we plug in a selection of the most famous mediums in the world of television entertainment, and see how they’re doing.  Great news, folks! They’re dropping very consistently over time.  In fact, as my mathematical trend analysis shows, we only need to wait until December 2013 and they will be officially removed from the public consciousness.

Google Trends for a few TV Mediums

Google Trends for a few TV Mediums

Ok, ok so I know that’s not true. But I can always dream…

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