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Media watch: Stupidity takes a meteoric rise on Google trends

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In a strictly statistical sense, there's perhaps no better barometer for what we're interested in moment to moment than Google Trends. Using the cataloging data it collects on a massive scale with it's unsettlingly all-seeing eye, the search engine divides what's hot right now into two categories -- hot searches (what people are typing in to the search bar) and hot topics (what key terms blogs and news outlets are using) by filtering out generically popular words and phrases (like "weather") and charting out what's on the rise on an hourly basis. Yesterday, it rated the search "stupidity" as "On Fire," which, in terms of hotness on Google Trends, is second only to "Volcanic." The weird part is, there didn't seem to be any particular reason for it.

Normally, even if the hot topic in question seems to be random, the Related Searches section will provide some clue as to why it's hot -- in this case, the related terms seemed to be somewhat related to each other ("linguascope," "spanish to english," "translate english to spanish") but not related to stupidity per se; searches of the terms grouped together yielded no comprehensive results. News of the day around translation seems to be that Twitter plans to crowdsource its efforts to translate its site products into Middle Eastern languages. But that doesn't really seem stupid.

Even Google's own news results yielded topics that, while related to stupidity, were otherwise totally disparate -- from one article about gamblers making stupid choices to another about an obscure presidential candidate who claims "Stupid people are ruining America" to my personal favorite, a somewhat random article bitching about how technology is making us stupider. If you are an English nerd, you will get why the following quote from that article is funny:

Have you noticed how lax we have gotten with our spelling and grammar now that there is texting and email in use all of the time.

Is that a question or a statement.

Anyway, the reason for the uptick of people searching for stupidity may never be known -- it may, of course, have just been a glitch (technology being stupid?) -- but whatever the case, it just goes to show you that the popularity of stupidity has never been quite so high.

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