A former data scientist at Google, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, wanted to know what Americans were really thinking. So, using his data-analysis skills, he looked into what we all search for on, where else, Google. His new book, Everybody Lies, “shows how the terms and questions people type into search engines don’t at all match what they claim on surveys,” says Olga Khazan.
“So for example,” he told Khazan, “there have historically been more searches for porn than for weather.” However, just 25 percent of men and 8 percent of women admit to watching porn when surveyed.
Khazan recently sat down with Stephens-Davidowitz to discuss some of his more surprising findings — including data on gender norms, prejudice, and romance.
“We focused on the search data about sex and relationships, because who are we kidding,” Khazan jokes.
A big theme of pornography is violence against women so Stephens-Davidowitz was somewhat surprised that it was far more popular among women than men, with searches roughly twice as common among women. Stephens-Davidowitz is quick to add that these numbers do not suggest that actual violence against women is, therefore, okay. On the contrary, the stats show that there is a real distinction between reality and fantasy.
Another not so surprising finding: a man can increase his chance of getting a second date with a woman “by laughing at her jokes” or showing support by saying things like “that must have been difficult” or “that sounds tough.”