February 28, 2006

"Zwicky" on the Slut-o-Meter

Mark Liberman has reported here on the Franusic-Smith Slut-o-Meter and on Jean Véronis's little studies in web pornometry using this tool, which assigns a sluttiness value to an expression based on how big a reduction in webhits is caused by turning on Google SafeSearch (or some similar filter) in searches on that expression.  Mark also calculated this metric for the last names of several of the Language Loggers: "Pullum", with a value of only 6.82%, then in descending order, "Liberman", "Zwicky", and "Thomason".

I am stunned to discover that "Zwicky" gets only what Mark calls a "positively demure" 4.35%.  Since I'm moderately famous for producing racy stuff on soc.motss, ADS-L, and Language Log too, this is at first baffling.  How could this happen?

Well, first of all, I'm not the only Zwicky you can Google up, and the others, decidedly more decorous than I am, might well be swamping my plain talk.  Actually, my guess was that Fritz Zwicky, the astrophysicist (and distant cousin of mine), would be the most-referred-to Zwicky, then Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky, the computer scientist (and my daughter), then me, and then the two Zwicky poets, Jan (the Canadian) and Fay (the Australian).

I was wrong.  I win, but by the tiniest of margins over Elizabeth, who holds a substantial lead over Fritz.  Then comes the dark horse, Richard Zwicky of Metamend Software, then Jan, and then a whole bunch of Zwickys, including the antipodal Fay, with less than a thousand hits.  In the #3 position, between Elizabeth and Fritz, is the Zwicky thread company.  (The Zwicky muesli folks and the Zwicky chocolate people have tiny numbers.)  Here are the raw figures:

1.    Arnold M. Zwicky: 28,100
       Arnold Zwicky: 17,900
       Zwicky, Arnold: 879
       total: 36,879

2.    Elizabeth Zwicky: 22,300
       Elizabeth D. Zwicky: 13,300  
       Zwicky, Elizabeth: 501
       Daingerfield Zwicky: 30
       total: 36,131

3.    Zwicky + thread: 23,900

4.    Fritz Zwicky: 20,800
       Zwicky, Fritz: 684
       total: 21,484

5.   Richard Zwicky: 15,100
      Zwicky, Richard: 80
      total: 15,180

6.   Jan Zwicky: 9,930
      Zwicky, Jan: 3,880
      total: 13,810

There are under a thousand hits for (in descending order): Karl Z., Chuck Z., Fay Z., Eric Z., Michael Zwicky Hauschild, Stefan Z., Monica Steinmann-Zwicky, and Charles  Z.

Total hits from all these sources: 150, 561, roughly half of the 316,000 hits for plain old Zwicky.  I'm not sure what the other half are about, but they probably include references to the galaxy Zwicky 18 (named for Fritz), occurrences of "Zwicky" with no first name, and so on.

I am surprised at the strength of my net presence.  I always tell people that I'm extremely famous in a very tiny world.

Now looking at what happens when I turn SafeSearch on, I see that the reductions in webhits are quite modest.  For "Arnold M. Zwicky", the number goes from 28,100 to 26,300, and for "Arnold Zwicky", from 17,900 to 16,800. 

Here, I think, we can see some evidence for a second contribution to the low sluttiness value for "Zwicky":  most of this stuff is about me, not by me.  Notice the large number of hits that include my middle inital, which I don't use in e-mail or in postings; a lot of these hits are from bibliographies and similar sources.

So, despite my occasional use of fuck in postings and my even more occasional references to cocksucking (note that I'm improving my sluttiness score a tiny bit by saying this here), most of what I post passes through SafeSearch; and, anyway, most of the time my name comes up on the net, it's in material about me, not by me; and, in addition, there's tons of stuff by or about my unslutty relatives.

zwicky at-sign csli period stanford period edu

Posted by Arnold Zwicky at February 28, 2006 05:22 PM