4. USE OF STATISTICS FROM GOOGLE.COM
In various parts of this article i have made use of statistics from the "Google" internet search engine at http://www.google.com.
I have chosen to do this as a simple statistical data gathering approach which can be verified by any reader with access to the internet.
In June 2000 Google was indexing approximately one billion internet web pages. At the beginning of May 2004 Google was searching over four billion web pages (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Entering the same words or phrases in the Google search engine that are used in this document will return the statistics that apply at that point in time. The number of pages will change as new web pages are created and old web pages are edited or removed. The statistics in this article were gathered during the second half of April 2004 and the first half of May 2004.
It is my expectation that if you undertake a search at any time in the next few years you will obtain numbers that are more or less in line with the numbers presented here. As such, this seems to me to represent simple, verifiable data that is potentially available to many who might read this article.
My rationale in using these statistics is to give some indication of the level of interest in the world in specific subjects. It may also give some indication of the level of specialisation in a specific subject.
Insofar as, in my experience, it takes anything from a few minutes to several days to create the content for a single web page and populate the page, the number of pages gives some indication of the extent to which people somewhere are investing time creating pages which mention the particular word or phrase or combination of words in question.
At some level, on the assumption that people create web pages in the hope that somebody else will read them, it seems to me that the number of web pages is also an indication of some level of expectation regarding the number of people who might look for web pages that refer to that subject.
Accordingly, i see these statistics as a basic first approximation sampling technique which gives some indication of level of interest and, by implication, some indication in some level of "belief" that such things exist and are relevant.
Thus, the existence of approximately 21,200,000 million web pages which contain the word "creation" one or more times indicates to me that there is a reasonably high level of interest in subjects that at least at some level refer to this concept and, by implication, a significant number of people who believe in such a concept at least at some level.
The existence of 18,100,000 web pages which contain the word "evolution" one or more times to me indicates a similar level of interest.
I personally do not think that any conclusion can be drawn from the three million web page difference in the count for creation versus the count for evolution. Both words can be used in contexts other than the context used in this document.
The form of reference used in this document to report Google search statistics is mostly of the form "word or phrase" (nnn,nnn) where "word or phrase" is either a single word in quotation marks, or a phrase in quotation marks or several words each in quotation marks or a phrase NOT in quotation marks. Where a phrase was searched with part or all of the search text NOT in quotation marks it is reported with a hyphen before and after the phrase such as -is there a god-. The hyphens were NOT used in the search.
In the case of a single word, this is the word that was searched in the Google search engine by entering the word into the search box and starting the search. For example "creation".
In the case of a phrase in quotes, the phrase was entered in the search box with the entire phrase in quotes, as it appears in this document. For example "argument from incredulity".
In the case of multiple discrete words or phrases, each word or phrase was entered as indicated in this document with quotation marks around phrases and other words standing alone in the search box. Such composite search text is shown between hyphens, for example -"is there a god" who is a creator- in this case "is there a god" is searched for an exact match and the words -who is a creator- are searched anywhere on the same page.
Phrases without quotes can give rise to very diverse responses may of which are unlikely to relate to the sense of the phrase, the occurrence of the major words in the phrase on the same page may give some indication of the level to which those words are associated. This is not a very significant indicator unless there are a number of keywords in the phrase which are relatively uncommon in general use.
These counts are approximate for many reasons. Some will be more approximate than others.
Some words such as "fear" have been appropriated for other uses, included in names of pop groups, etc. Statistics will include all of these instances.
Some words such as "bar" have multiple meanings as in a "bar of music" and in a place where alcohol is sold and a form of metal formed into a "bar", etc. In such cases, a search on the individual word will not deliver a statistic of any relevance.
I have endeavored to exclude the more extreme cases where i have been conscious that they exist but it is likely that there are other examples where i may have overlooked alternative uses of the word that may be obvious to you. In such cases, please disregard that particular statistic.
The thesis of this document is not fundamentally founded on these counts, they are offered as an indication of some widely available data that i think collectively points to some things which at some level seem relevant to me in building the overall case of this document. It is up to you whether you attach any significance to any of these numbers.
Where statistics have been offered for different forms of the same word, such as "fear" and "fearful" it is possible that there will likely be considerable overlap between different forms of the same word on the same web pages. Where the statistics are similar i do not think that they have much relevance. Where there are significant differences between counts then it may indicate some finer detail. I have searched on multiple word forms because i did not have any particular basis to select a specific word form and therefore offer the results of my research for your information.
I have not defined the words on which the searches were conducted unless it seems to me to be a relatively unknown term. I assume that most readers will be familiar with most of the words at some level. If there is a word that is cited and you are not familiar with it i suggest that you go to Google (enter http://www.google.com in an internet browser) and search on the word. On the bar near the top where the search result is reported the word "definition" appears towards the right. Click on (definition) and a definition of the word will be displayed.
In the format that the search results are presented, as set out above, (nnn,nnn) represents the number of web site pages that were found by the Google search engine when it searched it's database of information contained on the internet.
The nnn,nnn can range from a small number, such as "argument from incredulity" (578) that is 578 web pages to very large numbers such as "love" with 122,000,000 (122 million pages). Counts are to three significant digits.