Afternoon Inquisition

Sunday AI: The Unexpected Googles

One of the more entertaining ways in which our modern life has changed since I was a kid (when we had no internets, and walked uphill, BOTH WAYS, in the snow to school!!) is Googleing.

Don’t know something? Whip out that smart phone and look it up!  This is also, however, how people have discovered things that cannot be unseen.

photo of hoeMy first experience with this was when I wanted to replace a tool for my garden. This is one of the tools I cannot live without–it’s perfect for weed whacking, planting, and all sorts of garden tasks.  It’s called a Korean Plow Hoe.

You might think that people would be able to distinguish between the spelling of a garden implement and a prostitute, but apparently not so much.

This week I learned that you should always look up the Lesser Earwig by its common name, not its Latin name.  Because its Latin name is Labia minor.

Lesser Earwig
Lesser earwig Labia minor (Linnaeus, 1758)

What have you Googled that you rather wish you hadn’t?  What hilariously unexpected results did you get?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.

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Bug_girl has a PhD in Entomology, and is a pointy-headed former academic living in Ohio. She is obsessed with insects, but otherwise perfectly normal. Really! If you want a daily stream of cool info about bugs, follow her Facebook page or find her on Twitter.

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52 Comments

  1. From an old sketch by “Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie” (old enough that Google wasn’t a verb, yet):

    “I wanted to see if latex would bond to stucco, so I thought I’d do a ‘search’ for, oh, I don’t know, ‘latex bondage.'”

    1. I promise this is actually a really good read on the man that is Goatse

      http://gawker.com/5899787/

      Also, heh, I used to work for a 3rd party billing processor and we had to troubleshoot the sites … and most of the sites were porn. PROLAPSE, anyone? Pretty sure that site was *technically* against the TOS (it happens as they have a loooot of sites they manage) and I should have probably reported it, but I was so freaked out that I just “accidentally on purpose” dropped the call, haha.

  2. When I was pregnant, I had a habit of googling weird things that happened to my body, so I could reassure myself that there was no reason to call the midwife. I stopped that shit the day I discovered that there’s a subgenre of porn that one can find by searching “pregnancy nipple discharge.”

  3. I got a miniature automated teller machine (originally sold as a piggy bank for kids) to use in a diorama. I wanted to print a screenshot of an actual ATM machine screen and glue it to the little screen.

    So I did an image search for “ATM screenshot.”

  4. “Scrambled eggs”. It came up with a site for men who enjoy having their bollocks kicked, complete with a short gif or video on the front page of just such an act in progress. My poor husband – all he wanted was a recipe for breakfast!

  5. Okay. So my wife is currently learning latin. Someone out there on the internets had translated Sir Mix-A-Lot’s ‘I like big butts’ into latin then a literal translation back into English, with predictably LOL results. We were trying to find it.

    NEVER google ‘latin big butts’

    NEVER.

  6. In 1997, I was a very naive 16-year-old college freshman at a Southern Baptist university. The internet was just becoming a thing, the only search engine I knew of was Ask Jeeves, and I was the only person in my dorm with online access on my computer. One evening, two of my friends and I realized that we did not actually know where the clitoris was. (Don’t judge. We were sheltered Baptist girls from Texas, where sex ed was nonexistent. I’m glad to report that I have since gotten to the bottom (har!) of that little mystery, and left my Baptistness far behind.)

    Anyway… we had a question, and we’d heard that the internet had the answer. So I asked Jeeves: “Where is the clitoris?”

    And three sheltered Baptist girls got a bit more than they bargained for.

  7. T10 is a standards committee and very useful to geeks like me. T10.org is their site. T10.com used to be porn. I can’t tell you how many times I googled the wrong site. Occasionally several times per day.

  8. Looking at some of the stories above, I find myself thinking “What sort of bad stuff do you get if you google (particular term)?” too often for my own good. If I weren’t in a public place, I probably would find out.

  9. Back in the late nineties I wanted to visit the White House’s site and typed in http://www.whitehouse.com. Needless to say http://www.whitehouse.gov is the correct address and wh.com was an adult site, nothing too shocking but when you are expecting the White House it’s quite bracing.

    I don’t put web addresses in directly anymore, if I want to go to a site I put it in Google, that way if I make a typo or think I have the wrong extension it will save embarrassment.

    1. Oh gosh I remember that one! When I worked overnight tech support for an ISP back in 2000 they had to send a notice around to my coworkers to get them to stop using whitehouse.gov as their go-to non-cached routing test because users ALWAYS will type “com” after the dot, no matter how well you enunciate.

      I remember lots of frustrated calls from new users demanding we fix the internet because some inadvertent typo had sent them to surprise porn, and having to explain sketchy business models to peoples’ grandparents. What a fun gig that was.

  10. I work at a rock climbing gym, though I’m not much of a climber myself, I just manage the place for my dad and frequently my job entails purchasing whatever it was he wants to purchase, often things I don’t know anything, or not much about. He’d decided that one of our problems was having loose chalk in the gym, so he wanted to enforce a rule that it wasn’t allowed and everyone needed to have what I now know is called a chalk sock, but that meant we needed to sell them.

    “AJ, order some bison balls!” He told me. Google amusingly took me to many recipes for cooking bison testicles. We go with chalk balls nowadays. :)

  11. So far, I’ve avoided such unexpected Google finds, as far as I can remember. Either that, or appearently I did eventually “un-see” what I had seen.

    All I’ve seen so far are unexpected Google ads on sites, such as seeing ads for bible classes on this blog.

  12. I was doing a high school history project on Sappho, and, being completely unaware of the connotation of her name, I sent out a simple Google search to find basic information. Much to my chagrin and surprise, I was instantly hit by an abundance of lesbian porn, which I had no interest in seeing and which had no bearing or importance whatsoever to my research…lets just say I’ve been more careful with my Google searches since then.

  13. My young niece wanted to find some information on the history of Santa Claus. Before I could stop her, she hit enter on her search for Jolly Old Man. Definitely not child appropriate results.

  14. I had two computer science Postdocs for roommates back in college many years ago. They didn’t have much of a social life and they how to access lots of deep web content which existed back then.

    I saw SO much weird shit in that period of my life that nothing today that I might accidently find on google phases me.

    But I do have to remember to keep safesearch turned on when at work because otherwise porn inevitably pops up in the image results if you don’t.

  15. I teach a college course on the Human Body (Your Body, an Owner’s Manual or Anatomy and Physiology Light) and I look up a lot of images of parts of the human body for my PowerPoint lectures. The percentage of body part searches that result in pictures of penises is disturbing. Pancreas, anyone?

  16. I worked for a brief time on the helpdesk for a cheap ISP, and was often asked where people could go to set up a free email account.

    Judging from the reactions I got over the phone, an awful lot of people ended up going to hotmale.com by mistake.

  17. Beaver College was a small women’s school in Pennsylvania. Of course, when people interested in that school would type that name into a search engine, they often got more than they bargained for. At the other extreme, filters could prevent a potential student from finding anything at all about the school online.

    For these reasons, the school changed its name to Arcadia University in 2000.

  18. I study Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium that resides in the human nostrils. I wanted to learn more about mucus chemistry, so went to the wikipedia page about mucus. There was a photo there that I wish I could unsee. I am curious to see whether anyone has taken it down, but I’m afraid to look.

  19. In 8th grade, I was researching Debutantes for a theater class project in the school computer lab. After the initial shock of some of the pages that came up, I remember being surprised that the school’s filters didn’t catch those sites… I bet their filter technology is a bit better now.

    1. This is why I haven’t had too many troubles with accidental pr0n. I usually take a minute to work out the wording of how I want to find something before I type it. Like if I were looking for a Catholic girls’ school, I’d type in “Winnipeg school catholic girls” not “catholic school girls Winnipeg” which would not be at all the same.

  20. I happen to have two.

    First, I used to play on a company sponsored softball team. We had this pitching machine that was made by a company called Jugs. Yeah. Should’ve seen that one coming. Scratch one bit of naivety.

    Anyway, I work as an engineer, at a place where we solder electronics together. We have to solder wires to stuff, and we have to remove the plastic insulation from the wire first. The best way to do this without nicking the wire (which can cause it to break later) is to use a device which heats a couple of blades that cut the insulation back, but not the wire.

    Whatever you do, under any circumstances, don’t search the internet for “thermal wire strippers”. The life you save may be your own.

    (and yes, both of these happened at work. The second time I went to my supervisor and asked him about the matter. He said, “yes Hans, we do understand the internet here”. FWIW.)

    Regards,

    Hans

  21. I’m thoroughly disappointed with the results I’m getting trying out most searches from these comments. I think google’s conspired to make the results more in line with the intentions of the searcher.

  22. I’m on a random pictures community and once I clicked a link I shouldn’t have and there were pictures of dead kittens and I got SO UPSET. I still have to mentally block those pictures when I think about it, they really got to me. And just knowing there’s even a small community of people that think it’s okay to kill and abuse animals for their enjoyment makes want to cry and punch and cry-punch all the people who participate or even think about it.

  23. For yesterday’s AI, I wanted a featured image of “gay chickens”… after getting an eyeful of not-chickens very much enjoying being gay, I decided something from Breaking Bad would be more family friendly.

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