Google Trends has recently been released and given boost to several experimental statistics and misinterpretations , to put it mildly. Such tests hope to solve age old questions like briefs vs. boxers, as Rosenberg put it on Google Press Day ("Boxers are more popular, apparently"). Google points out that the tool is in the Labs yet, so "the data Google Trends produces may contain inaccuracies for a number of reasons." Consequently, we should restrict ourselves to toying with the presented graphs rather than jumping to conclusions, and building a serious dissertation on the results. Dissertations, or articles, I would add.
Ireland has received two new logos for the country, one stating that Irish people are the loneliest on the world wide globe, and the other claiming that (for some mysterious reason that could be called stereotype) the Irish are very much into sheep sex.
The first statement comes from Reuters UK. On May 15 the big revelation came to some journalist, who typed in 'lonely' for Google Trends, and got 'Ireland' as the first hit. The result: Reuters seems to have launched a new hype of Google Trench legends with its article on Ireland as the most lonely of all nations stating that "Ireland may be enjoying stellar economic growth and seen as one of the best places in the world to live, but its inhabitants are apparently also the globe's loneliest." The second statement comes from Andrew Sullivan's site, where the search word was "sheep sex" and the regional chart has shown that Ireland is on top.
Why are these liquid legends if we have statistical data?
Because, in my opinion, they are based on false assumptions. But why should it be false when it is quite foolproof to see and read that the keyword 'lonely' is most sought after among the Irish folks?
First of all, once you feel lonely, you may not automatically fire off the keyword 'lonely,' but you may rather type in words that give solution to your loneliness, maybe a local club, or dating line.
Secondly, there are several key phrases that contain 'lonely,' like lonely planet (which is the first hit for 'lonely' without having to add any other words), or the los lonely boys, or the lonely island. Not so surprisingly, searchers usually want to save time, so they may speed up by omitting the second part of any 'lonely' related phrase.
Thirdly, not so long ago, there was a worldwide hit called 'Lonely' a single released in 2005. The piece is by Senegalese singer Akon, album, Trouble which, according to the wikipedia reached number 1 in several countries, including United Kingdom, Germany and Australia. If you just check out the graph, it is all too visible that there is a sudden surge for lonely around the time of the hit/wave especially in Australia, and Ireland, I guess, must have been among the 'several other countries.' Legendary loneliness sounded so temptingly sensational that Reuters took on it and gave it the green light, not even hesitating in its 'news presentation' with tentative expressions like 'may/ might/ likely' etc. If we just stop for a moment to have a deeper look into events, current issues, and other search options (connotations mostly) we may as well conclude that Irish people like to travel most, and they enjoyed a greatest hit in 2005. But I would not even state that—as Ireland would give a better answer to the legend made by Reuters.
As for the 'sheep sex' study by Mr Sullivan: Google Trends Regions say Ireland, but Cities shows Birmingham (central England), followed by Australian cities, then SF, then London etc. (no Irish cities). (no comment).
So I think, GTrends is a great tool and toy, but it breeds and strengthens stereotypes if not treated with more uncertainty and care.