Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Why are states so...Paranormal?

Courtesy Sterling
Quick, what are the words you associate with Florida? California? Pennsylvania?

Well, Renee DiResta of No Upside asked that question in the couple months leading up to the presidential election when our differences seem to be the most highlighted and "the quality of political discourse hits new lows."

She writes: "I started wondering, how do Americans really think about 'those people' in other states? What are the most common stereotypes? For each of the fifty states and DC, I asked Google: 'Why is [State] so' and let it autocomplete. It seemed like an ideal question to get at popular assumptions, since 'Why is [State] so X?' presupposes that X is true."

It is a really clever idea that led to her creating this map where you can roll over each state and see the top four autocomplete responses.

For our paranormal purposes here, it was interesting that the assumptions connected to Pennsylvania and Connecticut were "so haunted," while West Virginia, Oregon and Florida (my home state) was so "weird." There is a lot to think about with this map, but it's especially interesting to see how the unexplained is at the top of our collective minds.

...It also makes me want to spend more time in Oregon.

(via Chris Cillizza, WaPo)

-Aaron Sagers

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