A Google search study of the most racist places in America yielded some surprising results. According to the study by PLOS ONE, the most racist places are the South and, surprisingly, the Northeast. The study was used to measure the association between an internet-based search of area-racism and African-American mortality rates. One of the authors of the most racist places is Seth Stephen-Davidowitz. Stephen-Davidowitz, a professor in the Department of Economics at Harvard, believes that the data from Google searches are relevant when it comes to finding the true nature of a person.
“Google data, evidence suggests, are unlikely to suffer from major social censoring. Google searchers are online and likely alone, both of which make it easier to express socially taboo thoughts. Individuals, indeed, note that they are unusually forthcoming with Google.”
There is a lot of sense behind his theory. Very few people would directly admit to being a racist if asked under a normal polling method. However, in the privacy of their own home, people have a tendency to let their true feelings of what they feel about others come out. There is no better example of this that former Los Angeles Clippers Owner Donald Sterling.
The PLOS ONE study used searches containing forms of the word “N****r.” Naturally, not all searches using this word are from people who you might consider racist, but the study assumes over the course of millions of searches using the term those who are not racist are negligible.
The study finds that there is a very high concentration of racist searches in the Northeast. In particular, the area in the New England states, as well as New York, seem surprising. The map is strikingly similar to a study conducted at Humbolt State that attempted to map racist tweets.
On the surface, this is just another study that shows where racist places exist in America. However, the PLUS ONE study then correlates this against the mortality rate of African-Americans. The results are disturbing, according to the authors of the paper.
“Results from our study indicate that living in an area characterized by a one standard deviation greater proportion of racist Google searches is associated with an 8.2% increase in the all-cause mortality rate among [African-Americans].
The study further explained that mortality rate is not just linked to violent crime. It concluded a racist attitude in general can affect the mortality rate.
“Racially motivated experiences of discrimination impact health via diminished socioeconomic attainment and by enforcing patterns in racial residential segregation, geographically isolating large segments of the [African-American] population into worse neighborhood conditions. Racial discrimination in employment can also lead to lower income and greater financial strain, which in turn have been linked to worse mental and physical health outcomes.”
What do you think of the Most Racist Places in America study? Where does your region fit into the map? In your opinion, does using a search engine constitute labeling an entire area?
[Picture by PLUS ONE]