25 million Mahler videos / obama likes books about waffles


PBS News Hour ran this piece - Performing Artists Compete, Move, Adapt in Tough Economy

At 4 minutes into the video they are discussing how recorded media replaces some of the need for live performances. To demonstrate that there is a lot of music available they run a Google search for "Mahler's 4th symphony" and then click on video and point out that there are 25 million hits.

Implication is that there are 25 million videos available of Mahler's 4th symphony.

Pet peeve of mine is when news organizations and websites run Google searches and then use the specious number of hits to conclude that the thing they searched is widely available or a widely held belief.

Did you know that President Obama likes books about waffles? Google - obama likes books about waffles - and you will get 21 million hits.


I've done experiments showing that *adding* a word to a Google search can sometimes vastly increase the number of hits--as can, sometimes, making a search a phrase search rather than a word search. Both of which tend to say to me that the initial number of hits is a totally meaningless number, and should never be used to indicate much of anything. But lazy journalists will continue to be lazy...

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