Who’s worried about abstinence?

Probing the deep structure of the collective psyche, or just noise? Either way, kind of interesting.

Are people Googling “abstinence” worried more generally about children’s behavior — maybe their own children’s behavior? Compare the pattern across states in Google searches for “abstinence” and “b. f. skinner” (correlation .79)*:

homeskinner

Searches for “abstinence” (left) and “b. f. skinner” (right)

Out of the top 100 most-correlated-with-“abstinence” searches, these are the others that plausibly have to do with children’s behavior (correlated between .79 and 87):

attention deficit disorder
attention deficit hyperactivity
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
b.f.
b.f. skinner
behaviors
behavior problems
girls basketball team
hyperactivity
hyperactivity disorder
pregnancies
punishment
student motivation

My mental image here is one of parental desperation, a parent who one day is thinking of how to get her daughter onto the girls’ basketball team and Googling “student motivation,” and the next day is back to “punishment.”

Two other things about the Abstinence Searchers. One is they may be health worriers generally, and/or have health problems (or live in communities with these problems), because these are also in the top 100:

bowel syndrome
cancer facts
coping with
coping with stress
diseases
disorders
effects of drinking
eye disorders
gastric ulcers
heart attacks
heart disease
infant death
infant death syndrome
irritable bowel syndrome
muscular dystrophy
obesity
phenylketonuria
reflux disease
sleeping disorders
sudden infant
sudden infant death
sudden infant death syndrome

This second list makes me more sympathetic to the Abstinence Searchers. On the other hand, it looks like there is a lot of homeschooling going on here as well (the correlation of “abstinence” with “homeschooling” is .54, not in the top 100 but pretty good). These are also in the top 100:

activities for
activities for preschool
activities for preschoolers
activities for students
classroom activities
classroom activity
educational activities
list of famous people
list of the 50 states
projects for students
pronunciation of
pronunciations
textbook publishers
topics
well-known
word games
http://www.census.gov

I am not in favor of abstinence education because it doesn’t serve children well, and I like the idea of children taught complete information by trained professionals. I would never draw conclusions from this kind of superficial analysis, but it’s a little depressing.

* Note, perhaps due to an outbreak of abstinence education in Mississippi, the number of searches there was an outlier, so I top-coded Mississippi at just over the level of the next-highest state, South Dakota.

4 Comments

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4 responses to “Who’s worried about abstinence?

  1. vijay

    “I am not in favor of abstinence education because it doesn’t serve children well, and I like the idea of children taught complete information by trained professionals”

    What if trained professionals taught abstinence?

    Less binary thinking blows your mind, doesn’t it?

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  2. They may be searching for abstinence related to addiction or drugs, not sex.

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  3. I am not sure that your conclusions from those search facts are correct. We live in a “web” world, every little question that pops in our mind is going to Google in a matter of few seconds. People search about all topic that concern them and it is natural. I don’t see how does it mean that they decide to educate their kids in a non formal way. For me those results only show that parents care about their children and try to find extra solutions for them!

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