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The Woke Olympics
When visually tracking global wokeness levels using Google Trends, USA gets the bronze.
Someone told me yesterday that Canada was more “woke” than the United States. Someone else asked me this morning why the United Kingdom was more woke than the United States. I wasn’t sure how to answer because I wasn’t sure those claims were in fact true. So, like we do around here, I tried to cook up a way to quantify it. Herein I present the results.
The best way to rank countries by wokeness would be to run a very rigorous poll across multiple countries, in their native languages, asking whether the respondent agrees or disagrees with a wide range of current woke ideologies.
On a scale of one to 5, where 1 is disagree and 5 is agree, please rate the following statements: Are trans women women? Does a subconscious patriarchy permeate all things? Are all cops bastards? Should we believe all women? Are people healthy at any size?
Etc. The questions could be carefully chosen, translated into local languages, and the survey could be distributed among a sample set, with the responses then properly weighted to apply appropriately to the demographics of that country.
Don’t nobody got time for that.
So instead, we do a very slapdash, haphazard, not at all trustworthy look at the question based on Google Trends queries. You can do the same thing yourself at this link. Plug in a term that the Woke talk a lot about and see what you get.
All numbers displayed by the Google Trends UI are “per capita” relative percentages, where I’m using the term “per capita” to refer to the number of searches of that term as a subset of the total number of searches within a region, not the total number of people. That’s an important potential source of bias, which we will discuss below.
So for instance in the above list, the USA queries the term “transgender” more than any other country on a “per capita” basis, and that “per capita” query number becomes the default against which all other countries “per capita” numbers are compared. People in the United Kingdom query the term “transgender” 64% as often as people in the USA do, compared to the total number of searches from each of those representative regions.
If we do the same sort of search with the phrase “TERF,” we get a lot of false positives in states like Montana where people are misspelling lawn treatment searches, so you have to include “-turf” in your query.
“Cis” doesn’t work because it’s an explicative in Maylay, so Singapore and the Philippines will show up erroneously on your list. “Meta” means someone of mixed race ancestry in Nepalese, which is probably why Nepal tops the list when you search for “Me Too.” The term “cis hetero” hits a lot of Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries, because it means something similar in Spanish, which exposes one of the more legitimate drawbacks of this analysis - that it’s a procedure which is going to bias towards English speaking countries, and the selection of which terms to search will also bias the outcomes.
To build a ranking, I did a Google Trends search for a series of wokeness related terms and recorded the regional top ten and their relative search term interest in to a spreadsheet. Any country who didn’t appear in at least three of the top ten lists for the eight related terms were removed from the list. Then I went back to each of the terms and filled in the gaps for countries that didn’t make the top ten in any particular term. These are the results.
Canada is the clear winner, based on this selection of Google Trends query terms. They’re over 50% on TERF, in the solid 70s on Trans and BLM, and totally dominate the Kimberlie Crenshaw / Ibrahim Kendi categories of White Fragility, Systemic Racism, and Intersectionality. You may find that surprising given how Canada is only 3.5% black, but given that Portland and Seattle have the lowest black population ratios in domestic US cities but had the most egregious Floyd Protest behavior, this makes a kind of sense. The idea that all whites are racist is probably a very easy idea to permeate a country full of white people who’ve never met a black person.
New Zealand was a surprise to me. They’re slightly under average in Systemic Racism searches, but solidly in the top two or three on almost every other term, and pull a 100% on the most charged ones in the list, of TERF and White Fragility. This seems to indicate to me that the New Zealand woke culture warriors are some of the most forceful and provocative.
The USA comes in third, rounding out a trio of countries significantly more woke by the numbers than the next closest cluster. Unsurprisingly, the phrases “Woke,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “Transgender” are searched more here than anywhere else, but our searches for transphobia were less than half of the one country to dominate a category without making the top ten list - St. Helena in the South Atlantic. Apparently a few of the 4,400 people who live there search about transphobia a lot.
After the USA there’s an almost 20 point drop to Australia, the UK, and Ireland. The main difference in the second cluster appears to be that they have much less of a national focus on systemic racism, white fragility, and what we might call “The Kendi Stuff” than the first three, while being slightly more focused than even the USA on the transgender wars.
The next cluster, of Denmark, Norway, South Africa, Kenya, and the Philippines, are either not native English speakers or multilingual, have multiple noticeable gaps in search terms, and have no general pattern to which they adhere. The remainder of the list is rounded out by Germany, Finland, and Spain, which probably catch most of their wokeness through Eurocentric idea osmosis.
This methodology biases towards English speaking countries because the search terms are English. It also biases towards specific phrases, so studying a cluster of different phrases would yield different yet probably similar results. An interested reader could fairly easily carve off the time to do a much more detailed analysis, and if one did, then they would need to ensure that their cluster of query terms best reflected the body of woke thought at the time. For instance, querying “37 genders” would probably pull no results today, but it would pull lots of results in 2016 back when the woke thought 37 was a magic gender number. Stacking the spreadsheet with a lot of transgender related terminology would bias the rankings towards England and TERF hotbeds.
To truly fine tune this analysis, it would have to be multilingual, and based on a good understanding of how the woke terms translate into local languages. And even then it would be difficult to compare apples to oranges since some of these searches may be happening in English even in non-English speaking countries. Making the analysis much better would require going back to what we said at the beginning and doing it right. Have Pew do an international wokeness poll. The closest thing we have to that so far is Rasmussen’s recent “how many genders are there?” poll, which showed 71% for “two genders plzkthx” in the USA. Where the USA sits globally on this question probably mirrors the table above.
Putting numbers to a “relative wokeness score” allows us to test certain theories about wokeness itself, and the preliminary results are admittedly not that great for certain HWFO wokeness theories.
HWFO has repeatedly made the claim that wokeness is a pseudo-religious ideology that jumps into the gap created by shrinking religosity in the west. Other commentators on the woke wars have said similar, including Richard Dawkins and James Lindsay. HWFO has further stated that wokeness uses Calvinist Protestantism as a carrier signal, hijacking such ideas as original sin, excommunication, and the Sermon on the Mount to promulgate hybrids of the same ideas that have been mapped over to woke terminology. But if we plot our rankings against Wikipedia’s list of countries by irreligion, we don’t see this affect at all.
The Philippines is an extreme outlier, and South Africa wasn’t plotted because it wasn’t in the irreligion data set at all, but even if Philippines is removed from the analysis there’s still no relationship. One would expect irreligion and wokeness to positively correlate, and they do not seem to do so. This may speak to the haphazard methodology herein, or to this analysis specific focus on the leaders of the wokeness pack, or to a fundamental flaw in HWFO wokeness analysis.
I tried several other attempts at identifying a correlation, and was unable to do so. Nothing lines up.
This methodology could be too cracked out to yield anything useful, but I highly suspect if someone else took the mantle and tried to replicate it with different query terms, they’d end up with a similar list. That would mean that we’re on to something here, I’m just not sure what. And if you want to join the discussion about what the heck we are on to, if anything, subscribe and I’ll send you a Slack invite.