The difference between what you do and what you think you should do

June 25th, 2008 by Mimi Yin

What could be more American than apple pie? Why an orgy of course!

Is anyone surprised that there are more Google searches for “orgy” than “apple pie”? Does this mean “smut peddlars” should be re-characterized as mainstays of mainstream culture? That’s the defense strategy in a trial of a “pornographic Web site operator.”

Now, the parallels the defense is trying to draw are ridiculous. There are 1001 reasons to explain the fact that “orgy” is more popular than “apple pie” and “watermelon” on the internet. For one, “apple pie” is way more specific than “orgy”. “Restaurants” versus “orgy” might be a more interesting comparison.

Still, that would be hard to do right because there are endless variations when it comes to searching for a place to eat. Realistically, how many ways are there to search for “orgy”?

Nevertheless, it is always interesting when raw data about what we do undermines what we think we should do. Does increasing access to such “behavioral” data mean an end to hypocrisy? or the erosion of a basic human device that helps us all get out of bed and face the world each day?

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