The REALLY Scary Thing About Google

Bob Leggitt | Friday, 16 March 2012 |

Google’s auto-suggest function is the most enlightening thing ever. Not because I need a search engine to tell me what I’m trying to find. I know what I’m trying to find. No, what's englightening about Google auto-suggest is that it tells me what other people have been typing into the search box.

Start a phrase in the Google search box, and Google tells you what it thinks you might be looking for. But it’s only able to do this, because lots of other people have entered that phrase, and the search engine has learned it – parrot fashion. This week, I set about using the auto-suggestion feature to seek out some of the more stupid things people have typed into Google.

What I find scariest about my findings is that an unfathomably large number of people clearly confuse Google with God. I genuinely do fear for my life when I see some of the questions people expect Google to be able to answer. Remember, for a suggestion to appear, the question has to be asked (or the statement has to be made) by an enormous volume of people – some of whom will be motorists, with full access to public roads… and a level of common sense which gives them reason to ask Google... wait for it... "Where is my takeaway?" Try to imagine what sort of brain someone would need to have, in order to ask Google, as opposed to the takeaway, where their takeaway is. I mean, I think people who ring a psychic rather than a dentist when they get the toothache are pretty stupid, but this is worse. At least a psychic claims to know why people get aches and pains. How would anyone get the impression that Google could know the whereabouts of a random pizza delivery guy, from an unknown takeaway, delivering to an unknown person, at an unknown address?

Imagine someone who thinks Google can answer a question like that... at the wheel of a motor vehicle. What goes through their minds as they merrily drive a potentially lethal weapon down the dual carriageway? You begin to realise as you ponder this frightening conundrum, why an estimated 730,000 road accidents occur every year in the UK alone (RoSPA estimate). That's 2,000 a day, by the way.

With the above in mind, I think you should brace yourself for the actual rundown of award-winningly stupid things people have typed into Google. Feel free to laugh, but never forget that real people are typing this stuff. People in your community, on the loose, at large…

“What does a sausage weigh?”… Just one example from many similarly farcical questions. “How big is a piece of paper?”, “How big is a small onion?”, or “How small is too small for women?”, for instance.

“My personal trainer is fat”… Thanks for the information. I’m assuming some sort of advice is being sought by those who type this phrase into Google. Although exactly who you’d end up adopting as a credible advisor, if you’re the sort of person who’s hired a fat personal trainer, is a concern in itself.

“Is my husband a psychopath/jerk/bastard/retard?”… Yeah; I don’t wanna overstate the obvious here, but these are questions you might have been better off asking before you tied the knot.

“Am I going to throw up?”… I think this is one of the most frightening entries of all. An insight into just how reliant some people are on others for information. If you have to ask someone else (let alone a search engine) how you feel, I’m guessing there’s absolutely nothing whatsoever you can work out for yourself. 

“My lawyer is suing me”… Well if nothing else, you’ve found the right person for the job.

“How can I win a million dollars?”… And people wonder why there are so many scam sites on the web?

“Do I have the runs?”… Where d’you even start with this one? I can’t even imagine anyone being stupid enough to ask their doctor this question, let alone Google!

“Can my wife have a gun if I am a felon?”… You just know the gun’s not gonna be for the wife, don’t you?

“How stupid is Sarah Palin?”… I get the all-too-powerful sense that with this one, nine out of ten people who typed the question were poised over her name on a ballot paper at the time.

“Is my house a council house?”… I’m sorry, but words have now failed me. I’m sure you can work out what I would have said, had they not.

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