Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Home Editor's picks How Business Standard misused Google Trends data to show Rahul ahead of Modi

How Business Standard misused Google Trends data to show Rahul ahead of Modi

There's data and there are aberrations. To confirm a trend in the real world you have to look around. Check for common sense variations. Without that your "data" would be as good as our famously inaccurate opinion poll industry.

So imagine my surprise the other day when I read this Business Standard article trying to show Rahul Gandhi ahead of PM Modi using Google Trends data. Because I have myself been following Google Trends data on this for a while and they show no such thing.

So I had to check this out. It is a good thing that Business Standard provided a screenshot, which let me see the period they were checking for, which happened to be Jan 1, 2018, to Jan 6, 2019.

Okay, so I checked it out on Google trends for the same period.

Untitled.png
Google search trends of “Modi” and “Rahul”

Huh? All I see is “Modi” uniformly ahead of “Rahul”. What is Business Standard even talking about?

To be fair, search terms can vary. There are many ways people could be wording their searches for PM Modi and the Congress President Rahul Gandhi. I started with “Modi” and “Rahul” because those are the shortest ways people generally use to talk about these two people.

But we need to “shop around” with some variants before we can confirm a trend. How about the respective full names: “Narendra Modi” and “Rahul Gandhi”? Looking closely at the screenshot that Business Standard provided, they seemed to have tried out the full names.

So here is the data.

Untitled.png
Google search trends for “narendra modi” and “rahul Gandhi”

Again, Narendra Modi is almost uniformly ahead of Rahul Gandhi. An exception occurs between Dec 9 and Dec 15, 2018, right after exit poll data came out and Congress went on to form governments in 3 states.

Okay, let’s try something else to try and confirm the findings of the Business Standard. Google Trends measures two kinds of searches: these are “term searches” and “topic searches”.

As Google explains, “term searches” can be very imprecise and cover all sorts of related information, which may be irrelevant. A search for “banana sandwich” may lead to “peanut butter sandwich”!  If you want more precise searches, you need to look at “Topic searches.”

Untitled.png
Difference between “search term” and “search topic”

So I decided to try a precise “Topic search” for Narendra Modi vs Rahul Gandhi. Here is the result.

Untitled.png
Google trends for search topics “Narendra Modi” and “Rahul Gandhi”

Ouch! It got really bad for Rahul Gandhi once I tried the precise “topic search”. The PM is not only well in the lead, but his lead is actually increasing.

So what am I doing wrong that I can’t seem to find the “data” that Business Standard was providing? For this, I decided to read the fine print in the article. Here’s what I found.

Untitled.png
The catch in Business Standard article

Ah…so they pared down the data to the news segment only, not across all categories. Okay, let me do that:

Untitled.png
Google search trends for “news” segment for “Narendra Modi” and “Rahul Gandhi”

Again, PM Modi seems to have a clear and very uniform lead. Rahul Gandhi hasn’t come close all year.

Okay, enough with the precise “topic searches”. Let me go back to the imprecise “term search” data and see what happens.

Untitled.png
Google search “term” trend for “Narendra Modi” and “Rahul Gandhi”

It does look better for Rahul Gandhi but PM Modi is still in the lead. There were only 3 periods of the year when Rahul’s numbers surpassed those of the PM. One is when the Congress formed its government in 3 states this December. Another has come between May 13 and May 19. We can immediately recognize this as the period when exit polls wrongly predicted a win for the Congress in Karnataka. So at least 2 of these 3 periods can easily be dismissed as momentary surges of interest in Rahul.

But still, we can find no sign of the “data” that Business Standard was offering us. How did they find Rahul to be in the lead? Looking carefully in the screenshot, I managed to decode what they meant by “news segment”. I was looking in the category of “news”; instead, I needed to look at “news search”.

Okay done.

Untitled.png
Google “News search” trend for “modi” and “rahul”

Huh? Modi is still way ahead! What happened here?

Oh, I know! I put “Modi” and “Rahul” again. That’s not what Business Standard did. I have to use full names! So I did.

Untitled.png
Google “news search” trend for “Narendra Modi” and “Rahul Gandhi”

What? Modi ahead? Again.

Oh, I know! I am so absent-minded that I missed using the exact specifications required to discover a lead for Rahul Gandhi!  I used the precise “topic search” data instead of the imprecise “term search”.

So this time before clicking away, I decided to make a full checklist so that I don’t miss something.

(a) I need to put the full names “Narendra Modi” and “Rahul Gandhi”. Can’t use “Modi” and/or “Rahul”

(b) I can’t use the precise “topic searches”. I must use the imprecise “term searches”.

(c) I can’t use web searches or youtube searches. I must restrict to the news.

(d) I can’t go to the category of news. I must use only the “news search” filter.

With this careful list of filters, I was finally able to get Rahul Gandhi to move ahead of Narendra Modi in Google Trends.

Untitled.png
Finally, with a bunch of conditions, Rahul Gandhi surges ahead of Nanredra Modi in Google search.

Congratulations to Rahul Gandhiji and every liberal out there.

Your candidate is ahead, finally.

There’s data and there are aberrations. To confirm a trend in the real world you have to look around. Check for common sense variations. Without that your “data” would be as good as our famously inaccurate opinion poll industry. You cannot just filter your data and pare it down to a certain specification until you find the result that you are looking for.

That’s called looking at aberrations, not data.

The good news for both liberals and opinion pollsters is that bad data has never affected their social, economic or political standing. So you can carry on.

UPDATE: After this article was published by OpIndia, we received a communication from Business Standard informing us that in wake of these details, they have withdrawn the story. The same can be confirmed by visiting their website here.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Abhishek Banerjeehttps://dynastycrooks.wordpress.com/
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

Related Articles

Trending now

Rabid communist Kavita Krishnan says no women have acknowledged ‘Love Jihad’, here are 10 women on record

Kavita Krishnan was irked by NCW's tweet which informed about discussion between Commission chief Ms Rekha Sharma and Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on several issues, including love jihad

Game over for India Today? CBI registers FIR in TRP Scam after UP Govt recommends probe based on private complaint

CBI has registered an FIR to investigate the TRP scam after a private complaint was registered in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.

‘Lockdown over but Coronavirus still here’: As PM Modi rings warning bell ahead of festive season, here are key takeaways from his address

In his 12-minute address, PM Modi urged people to maintain caution and wear masks while stepping out of their homes

The social hierarchy of Muslim society: Is the caste system a problem unique to Hindus?

Often ignored by the media, there is wide scale discrimination present in Muslim society between two factions- Ashraf and Ajlaf.

The MP who was sentenced to death: In Bihar elections, Anand Mohan Singh’s wife and son are now RJD candidates

Son and wife of Anand Mohan Singh, first-ever MP to get death sentence, are contesting in upcoming Assembly Elections in Bihar

FT publishes damning investigation implicating China, WHO and their role in the spread of Coronavirus: Here are 7 takeaways

The Financial Times carried out an investigation about China's initial mismanagement and complacency that led to a global coronavirus pandemic

Recently Popular

UK: 37-year-old paedophile named Rehan Baig jailed for raping chickens to death while his wife filmed it

Rhan Baig's wife had also joined him in the videos and at one point he alternated between having sex with his wife and the chickens.

Anti-Trump legal analyst of CNN and The New Yorker contributor suspended after masturbating on Zoom call

Jeffrey Toobin has offered an apology for masturbating on the Zoom video call and said that he thought he had put the video and audio on mute.

During 26/11 Mumbai attack, Param Bir Singh refused to be on ground and take on terrorists, then Mumbai CP Hasan Gafoor had said

Hasan Gafoor, who was the Mumbai Commissioner of Police during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, had accused senior police officials, including Param Bir Singh of not taking on the terrorists.

Hyderabad: Hindu woman confronts boyfriend Syed Mustafa over marriage promises, stabbed to death by him and his brother

24-year-old Hindu woman was brutally stabbed to death by her lover Syed Mustafa and his brother on Saturday night at Rein Bazar neighbourhood of Hyderabad

Game over for India Today? CBI registers FIR in TRP Scam after UP Govt recommends probe based on private complaint

CBI has registered an FIR to investigate the TRP scam after a private complaint was registered in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.

After Chinese phones blocking weather data for Arunachal and Ladakh, now Twitter shows Leh as part of China

Security analyst Nitin A Gokhale found that Twitter has labelled Leh in Ladakh as part of People's Republic of China (PRC)
- Advertisement -

Bilaspur: Mohammad Sharif tried to rape a woman under the pretext of exorcism, arrested

Mohammad Sharif, an absconding fake 'healer' who had allegedly tried to rape a woman under the garb of exorcism, arrested after a month.

Jharkhand: Muslim youth’s throat slit, killed by members of his own community for trying to prevent cow slaughter, three arrested

According to the FIR filed by the deceased mother at Sadar Police station in Garhwa, three Muslim youths killed her son for preventing cow slaughtering activities.

Arnab Goswami confronts Kamal Nath, demands apology for calling BJP’s Imarti Devi as ‘item’

Arnab Goswami called Kamal Nath during live debate, demanded explanation for the use of word 'item' for a woman politician.

Rabid communist Kavita Krishnan says no women have acknowledged ‘Love Jihad’, here are 10 women on record

Kavita Krishnan was irked by NCW's tweet which informed about discussion between Commission chief Ms Rekha Sharma and Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on several issues, including love jihad

‘Comedian’ Agrima Joshua, who calls herself ‘feminist’, passes offensive sexual comments against woman due to political differences

Agrima Joshua had earlier found herself in a controversy after insulting the Shivaji Maharaj memorial during a performance.

Bihar: Police arrest National Ulema Council Party candidate for campaigning on buffalo

Gaya Police has arrested Mohammad Parvez Mansoori for campaigning on a Buffalo for the upcoming Bihar Assembly Elections.

Game over for India Today? CBI registers FIR in TRP Scam after UP Govt recommends probe based on private complaint

CBI has registered an FIR to investigate the TRP scam after a private complaint was registered in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.

Paris beheading case: Victim Samuel Paty to be conferred France’s highest order, mosque to be shut down

Days after the history teacher beheading by a radical Islamist in Paris, the French govt has decided to confer the highest order of merit Legion d'Honneur posthumously.

‘Lockdown over but Coronavirus still here’: As PM Modi rings warning bell ahead of festive season, here are key takeaways from his address

In his 12-minute address, PM Modi urged people to maintain caution and wear masks while stepping out of their homes

The social hierarchy of Muslim society: Is the caste system a problem unique to Hindus?

Often ignored by the media, there is wide scale discrimination present in Muslim society between two factions- Ashraf and Ajlaf.

Connect with us

245,563FansLike
465,325FollowersFollow
18,800SubscribersSubscribe