Thursday, November 8, 2012

Google Trends theater

Google Trends is an amazing tool which allows users to see the relative popularity of terms in Google's search engine over time. I fiddled around with it last night and came up with the above plot.

What I found interesting here was the seasonality. Every year (especially for "the constitution," "bill of rights," and "first amendment") there seem to be two peaks. Turns out the first peak coincides roughly with the beginning on the school year in September. But, also, they coincide roughly with the US Supreme Courts schedule.  They hear arguments from October until April, then finish up in May and June by delivering outstanding decisions. So: the first peak on the graph represents the beginning of each Supreme Court term, and the second peak represents the end of the term, when decisions come out.

I would guess that this behavior is less pronounced for "second amendment" simply because it's a less popular search, and the seasonality gets lost in the background noise of general searches not related to the Supreme Court. I'm sure that this lack of popularity has to do with the fact that the Supreme Court doesn't decide very many cases involving the 2nd amendment.

An interesting plot! More to come from Google Trends.

NOTE: Thanks to Emily for helpful analysis for this edition of Google Trends Theater.


  1. Also I would think that greater numbers of people tend to know, or would say they know, the basics of The 2nd Amendment, and would therefore not need to search for it as often, because of it's usage in the press as a label for gun rights, rather than the 1st which is much more often referred to as Free Speech ubiquitously, without it's numerical title.

    1. Maybe that has to do with the first amendment containing more stuff than the second amendment. Like, even if the second amendment has proven pretty difficult to interpret historically, the general idea, which is that somehow the American citizenry should have the right to bear arms, is pretty straightforward. Whereas the first amendment has a bunch of stuff in it that is hard to remember: provisions for free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of worship, freedom to assemble, and freedom to petition the government.