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Autocomplete, Religious Tolerance Edition

It’s been a long time since I posted about the interesting, at times disturbing, insights that appear in Google’s autocomplete suggestions. Autocomplete displays potential searches based on the first couple words entered in the search box. The suggestions are based on the search activity of all web users and the context of the web pages indexed by Google.

With the holidays approaching, I wondered what people think various religions “should” do. Most Christian denominations don’t even prompt an autocomplete, although “Catholics should not work in emergency rooms.” For other religions, though, the autocomplete suggests indicate a significant, but sadly not too surprising, amount of religious intolerance.

Let’s start with the people the various religions might all agree they dislike — atheists. Seems they “shouldn’t have rights” or they “should be deported.” While that doesn’t say much for understanding that freedom of religion includes the choice not to believe, this is mild.

Hindus, Muslims and pagans “should be killed.” It should be noted, though, that autocomplete first suggests Muslims “should be banned” with killing them taking second place. “Scientologists should be shot,” although left unstated is whether there should be fatal intent. And while the most common autocomplete for Mormons is that they “should not grow barley,” that is followed by the autosuggestion they “should be killed.” (Evidently barley is a concern because it is used to make beer.)

Perhaps the mildest autocomplete is for Buddhists as all but a very small minority themselves probably agree that they “should not worship Buddha.” History apparently plays a role when it comes to the Jews, who “should apologize for killing Jesus.”

Aren’t religious differences thought-provoking? Actually, perhaps the problem is a lack of thought.


[Fundamentalism is] the Chinese food-binding of the human mind.

PZ Myers, The Happy Atheist

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2 comments to Autocomplete, Religious Tolerance Edition

  • John Iverson

    It strikes me as a complete waste of time to study incomplete Google listings in your efforts to disparage people of religion. While you were doing that, think of the millions of person hours being spent by people in this Country and in this world in the name of religion in service to others.

    Outside of being a tourist, I haven’t set foot in a Church or Temple for forty years. But I recognize the good works being done in the various names of God throughout the world.

    Not a lot of atheist or agnostic charities around, are there?

    • Tim

      Granted, I am occasionally oblivious, but I wasn’t aware I was disparaging people of religion. I was merely observing that this suggests there is a lot of religious intolerance on the internet. It certainly doesn’t lay that at the feet of any particular creed or sect.

      I’ve never investigated the religious views of those who’ve organized and run the thousands of nonsecular charities in the world but there are a number of atheist charities on the national, regional and local levels. Bill Gates, who created the largest philanthropic foundation in the world, is reportedly an atheist.