In 9,000 Google hits can’t be wrong – or can they?, the author discusses how news journalists often use Google results to make generalized statements about society. An example: a search for “naked men” brings 601,000 results from Google, while “naked women”yields 1,050,000 results. Ergo, the female body must be more desirable than the male — right?

Or take this example from the article — a journalist wrote that “no other instrument is targeted more frequently than the viola” for jokes, [What an bizarre topic for an article!] basing her opinion solely on the fact that a Google search for viola jokes yields 20,400 results. Actually, that’s not quite true — she should have used quotes in her search, and a search for “viola jokes” only yields 2,460 results. In contrast, “saxophone jokes” brings you 11,000 results — a far funnier instrument.

While I certainly agree that search engines, and Google in particular, can be a measure of a website’s or a topic’s popularity, I just don’t think it’s a very accurate measure, especially given the ease with which search results can be manipulated (for example, by Google Bombing).