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Using Google to Map American Stereotypes

• August 27, 2012 • 5:13 PM

It’s easy to polarize America–minority/majority, Republican/Democrat, 1 percent/99 percent, religious/atheist, Simpsons-liker/Simpsons-lover. But America is made up of 50 very different states, and the people in those states all seem to have their own stereotypes about everyone else.

Renee DiResta recently mapped out our stereotypes using Google:

For each of the fifty states and DC, I asked Google: “Why is [State] so ” and let it autocomplete. It seemed like an ideal question to get at popular assumptions, since “Why is [State] so X?” presupposes that X is true. 

You can check out the full results at her blog, but in short, people want to know why Louisiana is so corrupt, Oregon is so weird, and Michigan is so warm right now? Seem like perfectly reasonable queries to me.

From my extensive testing, American stereotypes seem to hold true, at least among Pacific Standard fellows. How else could you explain why I am so broke and expensive while Fitzgerald is so boring and haunted?

Another fun game is to type “why is America so…” into the google search bar.

This would all be well and good if everyone didn’t already know that it was Google’s own employees behind each and every autocompletion.

(h/t: High Country News)

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Skenazy
Matt Skenazy, an assistant editor at Outside magazine, is a former Pacific Standard fellow. His articles have appeared in Sierra, Men’s Journal, the Surfer’s Journal, and Climbing, among others publications.

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