Random Asides

Bad Chart Thursday: Your State’s Burning Health Concerns

Maps based on data gathered from Google Trends are everywhere, especially those that attempt to sum up each state based on randomly chosen attributes.

For example, the real estate site Estately.com recently published a map of “Each State’s Most Embarrassing Google Searches.”


How do they decide what is embarrassing? Pretty much by typing into Google Trends what the author would be embarrassed to search for and seeing which states have the most searches for each phrase. It’s obviously highly subjective. I’m not sure I see why googling “eyebrow piercing” should embarrass Floridians, but I totally agree that Colorado’s frequent search for “men’s rights” is hilarious. What’s missing from this and other state maps, aside from any actual meaningful information about anything whatsoever, are all the embarrassing search terms the creator of the map did not think to look up.

In other words, these various state maps tell us a lot more about the creator of the map than they do about the people in the various states.

To demonstrate, here’s a map of the United States showing which health conditions and concerns were googled most by each state. Except it doesn’t really show that because it’s limited by the health-related search terms I chose to use (although I am pretty sure demon possession is very likely to be the number one health concern in Alabama).

Health Concerns Map

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Melanie Mallon

Melanie is a freelance editor and writer who just moved to a small town outside Minneapolis with her husband and two young kids. When not counting how often the words "pride," "liberty," and "freedom" are used in local business, road, and pet names, she spends her time wrangling commas, making colon jokes, and raising her two kids to be critical thinkers. She is the managing editor of Skepchick Events, a Grounded Parents admin, and a Skepchick contributor. You can find her on Twitter as @MelMall, on Facebook, and on Google+

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