Googling Santa

I’m writing a paper about reference and fiction, and out of curiosity, I googled the following 3 phrases.

(1) Santa Claus doesn’t exist.
(2) There is no Santa Claus.
(3) Santa Claus isn’t real.

(1) got 731 hits. (2) produced 5,660 hits, and (3) 1000 hits.

I’m not that surprised, because just before I went to Google the phrases I had written the following:

“First of all, it is worth pointing out that despite the popularity of [sentences like (1)] with philosophers they are actually slightly unusual. In ordinary conversation one would be more likely to utter (2) or (3).”

It was nice to have Google confirm my intuition about (2). I was rather surprised by the low incidence of (3) however, because to me it seems like the most natural formulation.

So, how does one go about citing a Google search?

4 thoughts on “Googling Santa

  1. Is it possible that the incidence of (2) is influenced by similarity to “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”? Repeating the three with ‘Easter Bunny’ instead of Santa Claus gave me 60/2010/122,000.

    I think to completely cite a Google search you would need to include not only the time, date and search string, but also whether you used or (e.g.) and what language or other personalization settings were set.

  2. Correction, I used “the Easter Bunny is not real” for the third one. “… isn’t real” only gave me 163.

  3. “Santa Claus is not real.” yields 189. I did that yesterday and forgot to include it.

    You might be right about the “yes Virgina” influence tipping the scales.

    As an aside, I do find it odd that there are so many total hits for “the Easter Bunny is not real” — is it that its considered ok to deny his existence but not Santa’s? The bunny wasn’t part of my childhood at all, so I don’t have any sense of how important he is to North American children.

  4. You’re right, I was careless and missed a quotation mark. I should have realized that was way too many. With quotation marks correctly placed “the easter bunny is not real” only gives 40. Shame on me.

    Results for God: 17,600/192,000/886
    Results for true love: 200/941/8

    I think your insincts are correct.

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