What's up with Google? The company motto is "Don't be evil". I would have thought that, for an information collecting and analysing company, that would include not putting your own spin on things based on your own political or other opinions. Just give all queries an un-spun answer regardless of whether people query "tiptoe tulips" or "torture babies". And yes, the latter can be asked by good people - for example those trying to document the harm done during partial birth abortions.
But Google has mistaken information collection with advocacy. See the shameless plug for Al Gore at http://www.google.com/landing/cop15. But now I am wondering whether the search results themselves are being distorted. What's going on with ClimateGate? For weeks Google has been persistently refusing to display "ClimateGate" as a suggested search term. (I notice it has turned up this morning, suspiciously late for a word with multiple millions of hits.)
But the number of hits brings us to our second problem: the disappearing Climategate links. When I first became aware of the term, I Googled it. I got around 10 million hits. Over the next few weeks the hits increased to around 40 million. Then last night, down to ten million again?
At http://algorelied.com/?p=3305, a November 29 screenshot shows 13,200,000 hits. It climbed dramatically after that, then fell to ten million last night. This morning, it is down to 7,420,000. What gives? Meanwhile the algorelied site showed 11,300,000 hits for "al gore" on Nov 29, but on Google today that has strangely become 18,800,000. Better document this, so here's my screenshots. For "climategate":
And for "al gore":
These shots were taken this morning 23 December Australian time. I don't understand Google's ranking system, so I would hesitate to criticise if this or that result appeared above or below some other result. But over 30 million links that supposedly did once exist suddenly not existing any more? I still withhold judgement, but I put these screenshots up to document Google's behaviour at a moment in time. Let's see what others discover as events unfold and more sites make reference to ClimateGate.
PS: Some minutes after the first screenshot was taken, climategate is now showing 8,480,000 hits and al gore is showing 99,700,000 hits! Very puzzling, but promisingly it shows some signs of being programming mistakes rather than dishonesty. I feel a bit better.