Sell, Trade or Bias 


Last week, Amazon.com altered its search engine to eliminate a problem that had drawn the fire of pro-choice activists. According to several news outlets, users who searched for the term "abortion" had been met with the question, "Did you mean adoption?" followed by a book list heavily skewed toward pro-life tracts. Amazon spokeswoman Patty Smith told The New York Times that the question was (in the Times' words) "an automated response based on past customer behavior combined with the site's spelling correction technology."

We believe her. Just look at the strange and inexplicable results some of our own searches turned up.

Search term: abstinence

Did you mean asinine?

Related searches: psychological disorders, urban legends

Customers who searched for "abstinence" ultimately chose:

1. Living With Parents by Grace Sloan Overton (1954)

New & used from: $2.99

2. Justified by Justin Timberlake

(Audio CD)

Sort-of-used from: $14.98

3. The Insider's Guide to Duluth Nightlife, Eternal Bachelor Press (1987)

Never used from: $1.98

Search term: rendition

Did you mean retardation?

Related searches: foreign relations, Dark Ages

Customers who searched for "rendition" ultimately chose:

1. Winning Through Intimidation by Robert J. Ringer (1975)

Autographed only, $129.95 (You got a problem with that?)

2. 20 Days of Genitorture by the Genitorturers (Audio CD)

10 used & new available from $39.99

5 slightly bruised available from $24.99

3. Our Ass For a Hat: Why the U.S. is Losing the War on Terror by Some Decorated General Nobody's Listening To

Going begging at eBay

Search term: defense of marriage

Did you mean defense mechanism?

Related searches: patriarchy, traditional family, glory hole

Customers who searched for "defense of marriage" ultimately chose:

1. Wedded Bliss For the Man's Man by David Gest

(350 pages, opulently illustrated)

2. Domestic Dispute! A Sticker Fun Book for Kids Ages 3-12

(16 pages, including fold-out rec room)

3. Relax, Nobody's Touching Polygamy by Merle Osmond

(275 pages, some coherent)

Search term: rapture

Did you mean repulse? Or reptile?

Related searches: Biblical prophecy, 21st-century traffic management

Customers who searched for "rapture" ultimately chose:

1. Get Ready For the Judgment Day: The Judy Garland Songbook (hard cover)

2. Jesus Saves: Bargain Hunting With the Spiritually Correct by Dorothy Lockhart (soft spine)

3. Buns in the Oven: 10-Minute Glute Workouts for the Left Behind by Brock Fleming (scoliosis)

Search term: neocon

Did you mean Necronomicon?

Related searches: privatization, deficit spending, Barnum, P.T. (life and philosophy of)

Customers who searched for "neocon" ultimately chose:

1. Slaughter's Big Rip-Off (DVD), Good Times Home Video

Public domain

2. D-con, Neocon: What the Right Won't Tell You About Pesticides by Jim Hightower

Donations welcome

3. Learn To Fiddle the Nero Way

(instructional VHS)

No one's looking. Go on, take it!

Search term: unilateral

Did you mean Unabomber?

Related searches: pre-emptive photo ops, Europe (old), Vietnam (new)

Customers who searched for "unilateral" ultimately chose:

1. Fools Rush In by Johnny Mathis

(Audio CD)

(includes fold-out poster)

2. Goin' It Alone: Masturbation Imagery in Modern American Literature by Camille Paglia

(includes cloth palmistry chart)

3. Ten Great Improv Scenes For International Peacekeepers by Kofi Annan, ed.

(includes Kevlar prayer mat)

Search term: censure

Did you mean insincere?

Related searches: empty threats, frightened caving, Democratic playbook

Customers who searched for "censure" ultimately chose:

1. Tough Talk and Fast Feet: Survival Tips for the Modern Wuss (Scholastic Books)

$3.95 or two weeks' lunch money

2. Always Hora With the One That Brought Ya by Joe Lieberman

Your immortal soul (PayPal accepted)

3. A Charge to Lose (Again): What Went Wrong In 2006 by Harry Reid

(Ships November 15, 2006)


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