Monday, 19 October 2015

What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs?

This brief article, about what happened to the dinosaurs, is written with the hope that it will go some way to displacing the current site that tops the Google search results when you type in the search string "what happened to the dinosaurs" or "what really happened to the dinosaurs".

If you carry out this search and find that the result is as disturbing as I found it, then you can do something about it.  Scroll to the bottom of the page and see there is a link to "Send feedback".  You can write what you like, but here's what I wrote:
Your search engine is biased towards creationism - alternatively it has been gamed by creationists - for the search term "what happened to the dinosaurs".  Very disappointing.  I use a few of your products and it would be sad, but not overwhelmingly difficult, to leave them behind in order to protest your apparent lack of action with respect to this problem ( was posted almost five months ago).
The idea is that when you perform an internet search, you should have some level of confidence that the results are not complete crap and this example serves only to reduce my confidence - in Google.  To be fair, I also tried the search string "what happened to the dinosaurs" in other search engines.  For example, I typed "what happened to the dinosaurs" into Bing (there is a reason for the repetitive nature of this post).

Sadly, they also have the same problem.  So I gave similar feedback.

Then I typed "what happened to the dinosaurs" into Yahoo! (Does anyone still use Yahoo!?) Because Yahoo! is powered by Google, I got Google's results.

I got a bit smarter and pasted "what happened to the dinosaurs" into Gigablast - finally finding a search engine that doesn't have a creationist website as the top result.  Instead it's a website talking about how Google Answers used to have an answer to "what happened to the dinosaurs" which quotes an article saying that Google had it wrong.  And the same creationist result appears shortly after (with something from "Present Truth Mag", a Seventh Day Adventist publication, just pipping it).

Getting a bit bored with the whole process, I decided to check one last search engine - DuckDuckGo - and, yep, the top result for "what happened to the dinosaurs" is yet again that same nonsense creationist website.

I think therefore that it's not really Google's fault, although Google could do something about it.  It's just that the creationists have managed to corrupt the search protocols so that the search string "what happened to the dinosaurs" promotes their web site.

In order to resolve this, I suggest that people who have a web presence try to create an article that would edge out those peddling nonsense about what happened to the dinosaurs. Ideally, if we got enough people involved, we'd see the web site in question relegated to the second or third page.

Oh, and don't forget to provide an answer or a link which accurately explains what happened to the dinosaurs.  I'd suggest:

  • Dinosaur - talks about dinosaurs in general and points out that they weren't all killed in one single event,  in part because birds are dinosaurs and in part because only late Cretaceous era (non-avian) dinosaurs were driven extinct by the asteroid - admittedly this does include three of the most readily identifiable dinosaurs (none of which existed in the Jurassic period): Tyrannosaurus Rex, Tricerotops and Velociraptor
  • Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction Event - talks about the big event that many believe is the answer to the question "what happened to the dinosaurs", but isn't really the whole story (because a lot more than dinosaurs went extinct at the time and many dinosaurs were already extinct)

Edit one day later: sadly enough, it seems that this has absolutely no effect at all.  I'm going to have to live with the minor irritation.

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