Who's more Hitlery (in page views): Obama or Bush?

Who's more Hitlery (in page views): Obama or Bush?

Summary: Obama, Bush, Clinton, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Satan, and Parliament-Funkadelic, all in one piece.

TOPICS: Google, Browser

Mike Godwin's an interesting guy -- at least for a lawyer. He's now the general counsel for the Wikimedia Foundation, but in the 1990s he was the first staff counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

It was in this role, way back in 1990 -- back before there was even much of an Internet -- where Godwin hit upon one of the great societal truths of our time.

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.

This nugget (or nougat, if you happen to have a sociological sweet tooth) has been immortalized as "Godwin's Law".

Going Godwin

This week, Brandon Invergo -- who's half computer scientist and half biologist -- decided to go Godwin one step further, and subject Godwin's Law, Barack Obama, both Presidents Bush, and Bill and Hillary Clinton to the Google equivalent of scientific analysis.

What Invergo decided to do was search Google for page hits. He wanted to see how many pages had the names of the three most recent U.S. Presidents and Hitler on the same page. He also did the same for the Presidents along with the names Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and even Satan.

What he found was interesting. For Google page hits, President Obama scored slightly higher with "Hitler" on the same page than the former Presidents Bush. By contrast, the Bush dynasty scored slightly higher on pages with "Satan" on them.

"Clinton" came out at about half of both, but that's probably because the former President wasn't in office when Google was around and Hillary just doesn't seem able to raise the same level of ire as an actual President (yeah, that surprised me, too).

"Paint The White House Black"

One thing Invergo wasn't able to do was distinguish between was which Clinton or which Bush might have been mentioned. He just did "Bush Hitler" or "Bush Satan" searches, and those could have resulted in either Bush 41 or Bush 43.

The same was true when searching for Clinton. Clinton searches would, of course, result in Billary. But the interesting thing about the family name "Clinton" and Web searches is you never know who might show up, especially when also searching on "Satan". Could there be a Web page link between the great George Clinton, Parliament-Funkadelic, and the famous P-Funk sign (look it up) and could that skew the results?

Or what about Richard Dawkins, the controversial author of The God Delusion. Because he's a critic of both intelligent design and creationism, he's surely appeared on pages with the word "Satan". Why do we care about Professor Dawkins in the context of "Clinton Satan" searches? His full name is Clinton Richard Dawkins.

Why is this important?

First, this is just good, clean geeky fun. Where else are you going to find mentions of Obama, Bush, Clinton, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Satan, and Parliament-Funkadelic in a ZDNet Government piece?

Second, it's important because we can now use the hive mind that is the Internet (and, specifically, Google) to put things into perspective. Every new generation and every new administration seems worse to some people than anything that's gone before. But if we can quantify public opinion and mine the data in some way, we can begin to get a bigger and broader perspective than what we just get from TV and news Web sites.

The searchable, indexable Internet was new during President Clinton's time, came of age during President Bush's time, and is embedded deeply in daily life in President Obama's time. As we move forward, all of this information will be available to explore.

Can you imagine, a hundred years from now, what some digital anthropologist will have at his or her fingertips (if we don't all completely devolve)? Digging for digital treasure will not involve digging away dirt. Instead, it'll involve algorithms sifting through yottabytes of spam.

Even so, future historians will have a never-ending cache of information, opinion, and angst-ridden blog entries to give them a rich perspective of our world.

Poor guys! The day they discover and log into that last remaining Farmville server is the day their world will slide slowly into the abyss.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

See also: Back in 2008, Ed Bott talked about "Going Godwin".

Topics: Google, Browser


David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • Obama turns 2001-2008 into good ol' days

    You'd think Bush was the worst since Jimmy Carter. Now Obama is busy blowing both away in the ultimate tournament of incompetence.
    • ya, the economy is stabilizing

      Healthcare (not a great bill but a start) passed,
      a nuclear weapons treaty signed that even Reagan
      dreamed about...
      Where do you live?
      • I'm as big an Obama fan as anybody, but

        Obama's actions had absolutely nothing to do with the economy stabilizing. Time to heal and regain confidence is all that has occurred, and that would have happened regardless of who was in the White House. The only positive thing you can say is that Obama did nothing to stand in the way of that.
        Michael Kelly
      • It sure looks like stabilizing, ain't it?

        Check it out.

        Now tell me since when spending borrowed money on non-productive items such as cash-4-clunker, 1st time home buying credit, health care and a whole list of nonsense leads to stability?

        Get ready for the grandest Dollar collapse in history as a result of what Obama is doing, and pray.
        • You do realize that out current deficit...

          ...was already projected months before Obama took office? The projected deficit was 1.5T in November 2008.

          Obama's 2010 Budget has a projected deficit of 1.1 trillion, which is SMALLER than the one he inherited from W. Bush.
          • "SMALLER" after Bernie Madoff accounting being applied

            If you include the off-balance-sheet liability promised to GSEs AKA Fannie and Freddie, the # would shoot to moon. A conversation w/ those understanding how accounting works could easily reveal the rampant fraud in Obama's budget proposal:

            Quote from Bloomberg Radio:

            TOM KEENE (Host of Bloomgberg radio): Jonathan Weil out with a commentary this morning on the Bloobmerg of a $6.3 trillion essentially off balance sheet transaction. Should Fannie and Freddy be on the balance sheet? Should they be visible to the taxpayers?

            ARTHUR LEVITT (Former Chairman of the SEC): Absolutely. It's an incredible article. He's absolutely right. Fannie and Freddie belong on the balance sheet if we're in an era of transparency.

            The White House is already forecasting $1.3 trillion budget deficit for 2011, which is about $3 of spending for every $2 of government receipts. Fannie and Freddie are wards of the State. Orszag already promised that that's where they should be. And he's not putting it there. Shades of Enron.

            KEENE: Really? That big a deal?

            LEVITT: It is that big a deal.

            KEENE: Shades of Enron?

            LEVITT: Absolutely.

            KEN PREWITT (HOST): So if Fannie and Freddie were on the government's balance sheet, everything would look even worse than it does now?

            LEVITT: Oh, considerably worse.
          • Don't you wish

            Have fun discussing these fantasies at your teabagger rally this weekend.
          • There'd be more fun

            ... when we vote out his cronies in November and finally the parasite in chief himself in 2012.

            Have a nice weekend.
          • Your counting the bail out - which was paid back.

            Bushes number included the 900 Billion bail out
            (which was paid back - so drop Bushes number by
            900 Billion). Obama's number DOESN'T include
            that - as it was paid back. So - Bush REALLY
            had 600 Billion and Obama has 1.1 (this number
            is way too low, but I'll use your stats

            So yes, Obama is only 100% more spending in his
            first year. Not bad... 100% more. Then add in
            Healthcare and the rest of the longterm

            WELCOME TO 20% VAT!
        • Absolutely

          Destroy the dollar by design to implement new currency. Most likely the Amero.
      • Treaty

        Fortunately the treaty still has to muster two-
        thirds of the Senate. Good luck.
        • and the treaty is bent in Russia's favor...

          It limits the number of heavy multipurpose
          bombers we can have too. These bombers are
          also used to move troops and supplies in mass
          quantities in a very rapid manner.

          Russia basically stopped us from being able to
          efficiently deploy US manpower over seas. And
          we got???? NOTHING? The Russian Nuclear
          arsenal has been rusting for 20 years. Keep
          OIL under $70, and watch their tech crumble.
          • huh?

            Bombers used to ferry troops? A C5a is a bomber? Dood, that must be some pretty good weed.
      • HA!

        Hmmm I wonder if the Russians are going to adhere to the treaty...not!!!
        • They still have to ratify it too...

          ... and they have the same motivation to cheat on the
          terms as the US.... so who says it will be the Russians
          who don't adhere to the terms?
  • RE: Who's more Hitlery: Obama or Bush?

    I don't know about emulating Hitler. But the Narcissistic Community Organizer has done everything in His power to punish private enterprise while taking over as much of it as possible.

    It's no surprise since his mentors and people He admired were Marxists (it's in His book). Combine that with sitting in a church for 21 years under the guidance of a white people-hating/America-hating pastor - and His associations with domestic terrorists through the years.

    Hope and change, baby!
    • We need change again

      Let's deliver some this November and more in 2012. The ongoing socialism jihad on USA is about 1000 times as destructive as Al Queda ever has been.
      • What socialism jihad?

        You mean the Bush Admin bailing out Wall Street, or the trillion dollar corporate welfare handed to the defense industry over Iraq? The country without WMD. Or the charity taxes breaks given to the wealthiest Americans, which wiped out any possible surplus budgets, and added hundreds of billions to US debit?

        Take your pick?
      • Have you looked up Jingoistic lately? (nt)

    • Punish private enterprise?

      You mean he wasn't the first to hand Wall Street their bailout? Or he didn't create a war in Iraq, under false pretenses, which has handed trillions to defense contractors and related support industries. Or through that false pretense war, he didn't create a situation in which oil companies where able to increase the prices on possible shortages, thus making some of their largest profits in history.

      Yeah, that's the business environment we want, a bunch of Ponsie specialists, market manipulators and false war profiteers.

      I'll just adjust my bankrupt 401K and IRA accounts for the next idiotic Bush like administration.