Wednesday, October 06, 2010
An interesting experiment with Google
Searches on "Google images" brings up pages of pictures, each page having 10 pictures, but no text.
I thought I'd Google "Muslims" and see what comes up -- then compare that with what comes up when I Google "Christians".
The results were interesting:
For "Muslims", the first page of pictures showed mostly negative images:
Pic #1: rows and rows of Muslims praying in monolithic lockstep outside before a mosque.
Pic #2: Muslims beating a hindu, who is seen on the floor, his face bloody.
Pics #3 and 4: Shia Muslims in their ritual of whipping themselves, all covered in blood.
Pic #5: Muslim demonstration against Mohammed cartoons, in which Muslims are holding up signs saying "Behead those who insult Islam", "Freedom go to hell", and "Be prepared for the real holocaust".
Pic #6 and 7: Women in black burkas.
Pic #9: A crowd of Muslims burning the Pope in effigy.
Pic #10: Shiite ritual of whipping/cutting their own children.
For "Christians" the images that came up were in either of two categories: unremarkably positive or benignly neutral, or anti-Christian.
The unremarkably positive or benignly neutral images involve things like Catholics lighting candles for some kind of memorial (Pic #11), Catholics holding prayers beads (Pic #1), or Christians seated calmly on pews (Pic #10), while the anti-Christian images (which seem to outnumber the other type) all include propaganda against Christians, and depict nothing bad that Christians are actually doing or saying (the only image coming close is one picture (Pic #2) of some evangelical holding up a sign that reads "Turn to Jesus" and below that "Study the Bible" -- a behavior that at worst one could characterize as mildly annoying).
Comparison between Muslim and Christian images
I.e., most of the Muslim images were negative, and the negative images were depicting photographs of Muslims actually doing bad things (violence, hateful signage), while on balance there were far more positive or at least benignly neutral images of Christians, and all the negative images of Christians were merely anti-Christian propaganda not actually showing anything bad that Christians are doing.
Even if one might argue that the negative Muslim images reflect anti-Muslim propaganda, the distinction remains: the one propaganda is documenting what Muslims are actually doing and saying; while the other propaganda is only depicting what anti-Christians feel and think about Christians & Christianity.
It's safe to say that the Google corporation is not anti-Islam. Indeed, as with most mainstream corporations involved with various media, it would be safe to say that they lean at the very least toward anxiously "respecting" Islam and on the flip side, anxiously avoiding any whiff of "disrespect" -- all the more so, given additional indications of a Left-leaning ambiance to the corporation's culture.
This would strongly indicate that the findings I described in the sections above stem from the data pools themselves. I.e., Muslim images collected fairly randomly result in a higher quantity of negative images + a smaller quantity of positive or benignly neutral images than Christian images collected. Furthermore, nearly all of the negative images among the Muslim images collected involve documentation of Muslims actually doing or saying bad things -- often terrible and horrible things; whereas the negative images among the Christian images collected involve mostly anti-Christian propaganda ungrounded in anything that Christians are actually doing or saying.
Thus, Google images unintentionally -- merely by providing the two pools of image data -- documents the proposition that Muslims are pernicious compared with Christians, the latter who at worst may be annoying and seem to stimulate dubiously warranted hatred against them.