Saturday, November 14, 2009

Words Rule!

Words make all the difference.

I googled "67%".

Okay, so that was a mistake. You see, Google is smarter than me. It knows that I really didn't want that % symbol included in the search, so it ignored the symbol and brought back every reference to the numeral 67. All 778 million of them. (Google, of course, for my convenience, since it knows what I want, eliminates the duplicates, leaving... 42 hits--31 of them and eBay ads.)

So, being the savvy Googler that I am, I searched for "67 percent".

Much better. 1,310,000 hits. All of them actually containing the phrase I asked for.

And then, having paid attention in third-grade math, on a whim, I googled the phrase "two-thirds".

17,500,000 hits.

I have a masters degree in English.

I can find meaning in anything. Whether it's really there are not.

The meaning I found in my dabbling with Google and 67%?

First, we don't like symbols. Google knows that. It knows we hate symbols so much that it doesn't even recognize they exist. Just to make sure, I googled the symbol %.

Zero hits.

There are apparently no uses of % on the Internet.

Or, for that matter, ~, `, !, @, #, $, ^, or any other symbols on the keyboard, except for...

_ (1.3 billion hits), and
& (7.9 billion hits).

Apparently & has a special arrangement with Google. I won't speculate, but I think it should be looked into. Or maybe we're better off not knowing.

Anyway, apparently nobody cares. Because we don't like symbols.

Second, we like words more than numerals. This statement is not backed up by comparing "67 percent" (1,310,000 hits) with "sixty-seven percent" (871,000 hits). But I will provide conclusive evidence in a minute.

Third, we like simple. 67 percent is roughly equivalent to two-thirds. 67 percent is 67 out of a hundred. 100 is a lot. Some of us can't even count that high. But two-thirds--we could have suffered an unfortunate table saw accident and still have enough fingers on one hand to count two out of three.

Google "two-thirds"--17,500,000 hits.

Okay, I thought, but people have to prefer the numerals, if for no other reason than that they require less writing. Google hits for "2/3rds"?

4,980,000. People would rather take the time to spell out the term than use the number.

And that is why I write picture books for children. Because people hate symbols, aren't fond of numerals,

and they love simple words and concepts.

And so do I.

At least sixty-seven percent of the time.


  1. Rick, after reading this, I feel like I just tried to chase down a rabbit on foot - and I couldn't keep up. Your mental feet are fleet indeed.

    And it's funny to imagine you with bunny ears.

  2. Do you REALLY know how to google something? I thought you had interns for that.

  3. Rick, this is undoubtedly the most scientific study I've ever seen (closely followed by the time my dad ordered a scoop of every flavor of Creamery icecream so we could determine which was best). But I'm concerned about your frequent use of "67%" in this post, which is now part of the internet and therefore subject to search and citation. Aren't you just increasing the use of symbols like "%"?

  4. I'm curious about "&" in cahoots with google. Perhaps Brotique would be a greater force for good if we dropped this kid-stuff blogging immediately and spent our time unmasking this conspiracy--for the sake of future generations.

  5. I'm not sure how to respond to such random brilliance except to share this link with you: I don't think they know about the conspiracy yet. The ampersand revolution may not be televised, but I am certain it will be photographed: