Over the past couple of days, there have been several high profile stories concerning the advances in user share of Microsoft’s search engine, Bing! At first, it is easy to jump to the conclusion that Google is in real trouble, and things like the visual search feature, still not fully implemented by Microsoft, is a game changer in the world of search.

The article in All Things D states, “Bing Growing 8 Times Faster Than Google” and I’m certain that many got really worked up over that. That is the point. Headlines are supposed to grab the reader, and provoke…thought. I need not check the math, for I know from other stories that Bing! is up to a full 10% of searches, in the U.S. As anyone who does statistics will tell you (though, if you’re not an imbecile, it should be self-evident) when you start at nothing, any gains, by percentage, are going to be huge, when expressed mathematically.

What only a few of these stories tell (and here’s where you judge core competency of the storyteller) is that the Bing! numbers are for the United States only. Worldwide, Bing is still much smaller potatoes.

So, before becoming fearful that Google shares will drop like a rock, the victim of huge gains by Bing!, take a moment, and remember that mathematics is a strange and wonderful thing, and that ‘figures don’t lie, but any liar can figure’.

Math can be used, quite easily, to produce statistics that are absolutely correct, yet skew the opinions of the less than careful reader. It’s a tactic, and should be something always suspected, when evaluating claims such as these.

Remember, almost 100% of cancer deaths show that the people affected had eaten beets at some time in their life. I used this with my mother, in my early years, because, as a child, I hated the taste of beets (still do). She was not persuaded to stop pushing them, and you should not be persuaded by any claims such as the one I make in the first sentence of this paragraph, or any such as the ones being made by the stories about Bing! The company that goes from 1% to 2% of the market can truthfully brag that it has 100% gain in market share, yet another company, with 80% of the entire market is hardly shaking when those figures are announced.

Evaluate, then decide.

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72 Virgins

These need to be poster-ized, and spread throughout Afghanistan, immediately.

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