How Google Search Results Work – Or, Technology Writers Can’t Do Philosophy

The AP published an article intended to counter the prevailing view that Google has biased search results. Google denies any bias whatsoever:

“We don’t bias our results toward any political ideology.”

So why do results so often seem biased? The technology writer at the AP promises to make everything clear for us.

Google has software which indexes every site it can find on the internet and keeps track of the most common search terms. So far, no chance for Google to inject bias of any kind, presuming this is what happens.

However, the rest of the article reveals a variety of ways Google employees can bias the results, and even ways they are required to bias results.

The technology writer for the AP cannot distinguish between a computer algorithm itself (which is mechanical) and the intent and effect of its design (which is based on the philosophy of its authors).

“Quality” Raters

According to the article, more than 10,000 “quality raters” judge the quality of search results using a 164 page document with such obviously political sections as:

“Using the Upsetting-Offensive Flag”

“Needs Met Rating for Upsetting-Offensive Tolerant Queries”

“Pages that Potentially Deceive Users”

“Lacking Expertise, Authoritativeness, or Trustworthiness”

“Mixed or Mildly Negative Reputation of the Website or Creator of the Main Content”

Who defines what is “upsetting” or “offensive”? Who decides what someone’s reputation is? Who decides if someone lacks expertise, authoritativeness, or trustworthiness?

Google.

It isn’t some mindless, apolitical machine that decides these things. It’s employees at Google, who bring their own beliefs with them. If these employees presume themselves to be neutral observers – as the author of the article seems to imply they are – it’s all the more dangerous.

What is high quality?

The example given for how quality might be determined is by looking at Pulitzer Prizes won by the author of the content. This presumes that the prize itself is neutral, that those who give the prize are neutral, that the authors receiving the prize are neutral, and that those who don’t receive the prize are of poorer quality. Every single one of these assumptions are political and philosophical, meaning that in the example which is given of how quality is determined, we already have a clear example of bias.

What is poor quality?

The pages which are given a low rating, on the other hand, are those which “spread hate, cause harm or misinformation, or which deceive users”.

For the Left, suggesting that women make less than men on average because of career decisions and not because of some evil mystical force called “the patriarchy” is considered “hateful” and “harmful” and “misinformation”. Google just fired an employee for suggesting this very thing.

The same people who fired him are the ones who determine what is “hateful” and “harmful” and “misinformation”. Again, for reasons unknown, the technology writer at the AP doesn’t think that this is a place where bias might enter into the design of Google’s algorithms.

Fake News

We are also told that sites are labelled “deceptive” if they “look like a news organization” but “in fact [have] articles to manipulate users in order to benefit a person, business, government, or other organization politically, monetarily, or otherwise”.

This presumes two things:

  1. That far-left employees at Google can determine the hidden motivations behind the authors of articles.
  2. That far-left employees at Google implicitly trust major news companies not to be deceptive in either what they report or what they fail to report.

Both of these things are examples of political bias.

Design and Designer

What the author of the article fails to understand is the difference between a mindless algorithm that does whatever it is programmed to do and the mindful intentions of the authors of that algorithm. Because he likely agrees with the politics of Google engineers, he thinks the algorithm is neutral. After all, his own views are obviously neutral (or so he thinks).

Too many software engineers lack a strong philosophical background and make elementary mistakes in reasoning (like presuming their own neutrality) which, when ignored, lead to things like a far-left bias to the most influential search algorithm in the world. Unfortunately, the tech writer at the AP is similarly unaware of his own biases, or is simply defending Google because of their political leanings.

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Double Standards – Round 2

A gossip forum picked up the defense of Lori Alexander’s article on what men prefer in marriage, and one of the commenters issued this thoughtful response:

“I married a good man. His father is a good man. And you know what? They wouldn’t be caught associating with a whiny bunch of man-children, who spend their days complaining about how unfair life is.”

If a man prefers sexual purity in his future wife, he goes against the Gospel, and women are permitted to complain about how unfair he is.

If a man says life is unfair or complains, he’s worthy only to be mocked. You can be sure this woman would advise against marrying him.

The double standards never cease.

Double Standards

Dalrock posted about one Lori Alexander who wrote an article that, whatever her intentions, served primarily to prove the existence of the Overton Window.

Phylicia Masonheimer was not going to take such an article without comment. Apparently, she married a man who was “bearing fruit”. Who had a “servant heart”. Who was “faithful”. Who “desired to grow in grace and knowledge of our Savior”. He had tattoos and debt and had slept with other women, but he met whatever her criteria was.

The target audience of Lori Alexander is too young to have slept around, but they are presumably Christians. She recommends that they remain sexually pure for their husbands, because husbands find that attractive. This would make their sexual purity a sort of “fruit of the spirit”, it would seem. For whatever reason, this fruit is not like that of Phylicia Masonheimer’s husband. It’s not appropriate to expect it or search for it.

Phylicia Masonheimer thinks this is legalistic. It grieves God to offer this advice. It isn’t Christianity. Because Lori Alexander is offering marriage advice which is not equivalent to the Gospel, she is wrong. Because Lori Alexander says that things besides faith in Christ are attractive to a spouse, she is “adding to the simplicity of faith”, which is “a distraction from what really matters”. Apparently, her advice is for women to find a guy who acts like a Christian and claims to be one, ignore everything he has ever done in his past, and be willing to marry him. Asking for anything else is not Christianity.

But she has an entire article on how to “choose a godly man”. Apparently, she does have some criteria after all.

Among them, the man needs to:

  1. Revere God and delight in His word
  2. Be relationally [sic], financially, and spiritually wise
  3. Be gracious, compassionate, and righteous
  4. Be generous and steadfast
  5. Have faith in God’s will and timing
  6. Be bold
  7. Be conscious of the needs of others

She follows it up by saying:

“…let these principles, given in God’s word, be your guide as you look for God’s man. And to the measure you use for a potential spouse, remember – he’ll be using the same measure for you. [bold in original]”

She justifies her criticism of Lori Alexander by saying:

In the name of Christianity, however, it articulated rules which are found nowhere in Scripture.

That’s not exactly true. Avoiding debt is an example of being financially wise, which she listed as one of her criteria for godliness (and how a woman should measure a potential spouse).

Being sexually pure isn’t on Phylicia Masonheimer’s list explicitly, but revering God implies sexual purity. And virginity, for someone who has always revered God.

The portions speaking of women living in obedience to their husbands is found throughout the New Testament. I’m sure Phylicia Masonheimer has read these passages before and promptly rationalized them away, but they remain in Scripture, against her claim.

The claims about college and its effects seem directly related to being spiritually wise. Worthless degrees and liberal indoctrination are not things a spiritually wise person endures voluntarily.

In fact, working through each of Lori Alexander’s suggestions, all can be related to one of the things which Phylicia Masonheimer herself has provided. But even if they couldn’t be, the Bible is not an instruction manual for finding a spouse. For all her talk about the importance of the Gospel and the clarity of the central Christian message, she seems to be deeply confused about the purpose of Scripture itself. While it offers advice on finding a spouse, it is not the sum total of all the things a man or a woman is looking for in the opposite sex. Men and women can and ought to look for more in a spouse than the limited items in Scripture. A man who wants children should not marry a woman who doesn’t like children or want them around. You don’t need it explicitly written in Scripture.

Phylicia Masonheimer has confused marriage advice with the Gospel. If we were to do the same with her article on marriage advice, we could ask why she would add so many things to the Gospel, when God forgives our mistakes. Her article is a non sequitur. And, it reveals a disturbing double standard: the imperatives of feminism (women getting college degrees, careers, postponing children, and living a life of sexual “liberty”) cannot be contradicted when offering marriage advice. To do so, in her eyes, is to impugn the Gospel. But any other marriage advice that allows for these imperatives is appropriate and not even worth commenting on.

The Gospel Coalition Guide to Undermining Christian Marriage

(h/t to bdash 77 over at Dalrock’s blog)

The Gospel Coalition has published a step-by-step guide on how to reject the Biblical rules for marriage and then, to throw off anyone orthodox enough to try and stop you, they demonstrate how to hide your tracks with bombast and exaggeration. There’s an epidemic of men locking their wives in closets! (pay no attention to the conspicuous lack of lawsuits)

“A Hidden Epidemic God Hates”, written by one Steve Hoppe on May 11th of this year, begins with what appears to be a horror movie still and this quote, which is also meant to scare you:

Tom micromanages his wife Sarah’s physical appearance to fit his personal tastes. He picks out her clothes, tells her how she can do her hair, and restricts her diet so she remains thin. When Sarah confronts him on his controlling behavior, he cites Ephesians 5:22: “Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord.”

The word “submit” appears only once in this article, and it’s in this opening paragraph. Steve never addresses Ephesians 5:22. In fact, he never cites a single passage in the Bible regarding marriage to make his case.

Sarah, if she is a real person, doesn’t want to submit to her husband when it comes to her physical appearance or her diet. Whatever it is that constitutes her diet, it apparently keeps her healthy, though she is described as “thin” so we don’t accidentally misread this attempt at a horror story. Sarah obeys her husband, as she is commanded in Scripture. This obedience is framed as victimhood.

A real Sarah – Abraham’s wife – was praised by the Apostle Paul himself for her obedience. She planned to commit adultery at the request of her husband (it’s the only example of her obedience we have). Paul apparently doesn’t have the insights of The Gospel Coalition. Had he known what they know, he would have condemned Abraham for his spiritual abuse, rather than praise Sarah for her obedience. As we’ll soon see, Steve condemns husbands who ask for sex even for themselves, so this isn’t a stretch.

Miranda is an overprotective mother. She homeschools her 17-year-old daughter, Kate, to prevent her from being exposed to rebellious teenagers. She won’t allow her to play sports, attend dances, or get her driver’s license. She cites 1 Corinthians 15:33 as her justification for parenting this way: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

The only thing noteworthy in this story is the use of the term “overprotective mother”. I presume Steve had to include the term “overprotective”, else readers would scratch their heads wondering what was wrong here.

Bill forces his wife Angie to have sex against her will. He’s rough in bed and occasionally strikes her when they’re being intimate. He cites 1 Corinthians 7:4 as his allowance for doing so: “For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does.”

“Force” is an interesting term in a relationship in which sex is pledged at the start. Steve has decided, for whatever reason, not to use the clearest passage in Scripture regarding sexual duties, that being the next verse: “Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”

I suppose if he included the full context, then a wife who had to be forced against her will to have sex would clearly be a wife rebelling against her husband and God.

All three of these stories are attempts by the author to illustrate “spiritual abuse”. What are his specific examples of spiritual abuse? If nothing else, they are revealing. Here are some of the more interesting selections:


Physically harming you.

There’s no limits on this one. Spanking a child or slapping a face are both “spiritual abuse” here. Forget about the rod of Proverbs.

Pressuring you to engage in sexual activity.

A wife can apparently deny her husband sexual activity for the duration of their marriage, and not be guilty of spiritual abuse. After all, as Steve explicitly states, spiritual abuse can only occur when someone is in spiritual authority over someone else. That would always be husbands. Wives are not even capable of spiritual abuse. They can disobey every command regarding sex and remain innocent here, while their husbands can ask just one time too many and be condemned.

Insulting you or calling you names.

Insulting or calling names seems fair enough, until you consider that both are easy accusations for anything you don’t like to hear. “You called me fat!” is an insult and a name, and an obvious accusation to make when your husband suggests you go on a diet. Speaking of…

Forcing you to diet or exercise.

Heaven forbid. Steve has a particular problem with evil husbands demanding that their wives stay healthy.

Threatening you.

This makes most of Scripture a form of spiritual abuse. God threatens people all the time. God’s prophets make threats. Christ’s Apostles make threats. If you are forbidden from making threats, you cannot exercise spiritual authority. You can only passively wait for people to listen to you if they choose to, which puts the authority in those who are commanded to submit. This role-reversal is a common feminist Christian tactic.

Restricting your ability to access financial information.

I’ve known several marriages that have ended when the husband or the wife (almost always the wife) has spent money behind her husband’s back and bankrupted the family. Apparently, a husband who seeks real safeguards to this is abusive.

 

Preventing you from working.

Are you noticing a theme here? Any time a husband wants his wife to do something, any time a husband expects his wife to submit to him about something, it is a form of spiritual abuse. Steve doesn’t provide a single meaningful example of a husband who has spiritual authority over his wife acting in a practical way.

Telling you what you can and cannot say in small groups, church, or other social settings.

This is too all-encompassing. Are we really to presume that parents can’t tell their children what to say when they are around other adults?

Locking you in rooms, closets, or basements.

This one is meant to shock you. It’s meant to catch you off guard in case you’ve been questioning this list.

Taking away your access to transportation.

Grounding your child is a form of spiritual abuse.

Blocking your contact with counselors, mentors, or other spiritual figures.

Does this include Imams? How about psychologists who advise your wife to divorce you because she is unhappy?

Punishing you for your sins.

Remember the book of Proverbs? Every time it provides instructions for disciplining your children, it’s actually teaching you how to spiritually abuse them.


 

It became apparent to me, as I read through this article, that Steve wasn’t sure if he was writing against husbands who exercise their spiritual authority or for parents who exercise authority over their children. I suspect he came up with his definition and realized it applied to parents, so he tossed in a story about an overprotective mother and then forgot that near half of his examples of spiritual abuse are actually things that are commanded for parents when dealing with their children.

It goes further, though. Wives are commanded to submit to their husbands in the same way children are. A wife is not a child and isn’t to be treated as a child, but she is in the same position of spiritual submission. Many of these supposed forms of spiritual abuse, then, are simply real acts that a spiritual authority can use over those he oversees.

Steve hates these things, but Steve hating these things isn’t very profound. He needs to find a way to say that God hates these things. So what does he do?

In Titus 1, Paul rebukes Jewish Christians who were teaching heresy for selfish gain (sounds a lot like spiritual abuse, doesn’t it?):

For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. . . . They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. (Titus 1:10–11,16)

God detests spiritual abuse.

He finds a passage that has nothing to do with marriage or parenting and claims it applies to the home. Condemning heresy is framed as an equivalent to condemning patriarchal family structures and the acts which enforce that structure. This doesn’t work, though.

He should have chosen a different passage for another reason. Part of Paul’s condemnation of these heretics is that they are “insubordinate”. They refuse to submit. This passage is the condemnation of insubordination to real spiritual authorities, not of spiritual authority wielded for selfish gain.

Pastors and church leaders, it’s long past time we stand up against all forms of abuse. This includes spiritual abuse in the church and the home. Domestic spiritual abuse is far more common than you think. It hurts innocent sheep daily. It destroys the fabric of families and churches.

Steve ends his post against the role of husbands in marriage by calling pastors to help him bring down the patriarchy. Having established that spiritual abuse just is that set of acts which give teeth to spiritual authority, his condemnation of spiritual abuse and his call to arms is an inquisition into any real forms of spiritual hierarchy in the churches of his readers. Since only men can be spiritual abusers in marriage, only wives can be the victims of spiritual abuse. In this way, Steve has found the ultimate Christianesque form of a get-out-of-marriage-free card. Wives need only identify a single example of their husbands attempting to exercise spiritual authority and BAM, spiritual abuse.

Without even feigning respect for the passages of Scripture that describe how Christian husbands and wives are to live together, he condemns them all. After all, who cares about Paul when we have these millions of women locked up in cages?

Is Marriage Possible?

For Christians, marriage involves a husband who loves his wife as Christ loves the church and a wife who submits to her husband as the church submits to Christ. The husband is to love his wife even unto death, and a wife is to submit to her husband in everything. There are no exceptions.

These are impossible standards for mere humans to live up to, but that’s the nature of perfect moral standards. It isn’t a defect in them.

Husbands are also to teach their wives about spiritual things. They are to “wash [their] wives with the word [of God]”. Paul says that only men are to preach because Eve was deceived; naturally then, this role falls to men.

I’m convinced Christian marriage doesn’t exist in the West. Christian marriage isn’t just difficult today. It is actually impossible. We have only clumsy attempts, and can get nothing more.

In the military and in other hierarchies where real submission to authority takes place, there are safeguards to enforce the structure. Punishments exist for those who disobey orders. The mere fact of these consequences is enough to deter the majority of those who might be tempted to disregard their superiors.

In Western marriages, there have also been safeguards against disobedience. Husbands had tremendous control over their wives. While the modern mind might be tempted to think of physical violence, there were more effective ways to accomplish the goal. Women needed husbands to have any political voice, as only men would qualify to vote, serve in officer corps of the military, or in the court of a king. Christian civilization had mercy for widows, but none for adulteresses. It had roles for women who abstained from marriage, but disdain for women who abandoned their vows. Husbands could rely on all of these things to get the job done so they could focus on Christ’s command for them: to love their wives as Christ loves the church.

None of these things exist today. There are no negative social consequences for women who divorce their husbands, who sleep around while married or not. In fact, women who unilaterally divorce their husbands are often rewarded by courts stacked in their favor. Women don’t have to break their family apart on the outside to rebel, though. With universal suffrage, a house can be divided on the inside; husbands and wives can vote against each other, bringing the government into their home like some totalitarian’s dream.

There are no social restraints to keep a wife submissive toward her husband. And there are no legal actions available to men to do so on their own. In fact, a man who tries to enforce his authority in any way will bring only scorn.

Submission is impossible to enforce, so we are required to trust that women will simply submit out of their own good nature. But women are sinners, just like men. And women, as Paul says, were the first to be deceived, being more likely than men to be manipulated. Our fundamentally feminist culture has honed its skill in manipulation.

Since submission is impossible to enforce, and impossible to produce without enforcement, and since submission is fully half of what makes a Christian marriage, I posit that Christian marriage is not simply difficult in 2018. It is impossible.

STD’s and How We Could Quickly Eradicate Them

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The cause of sexually transmitted disease is almost exclusively sexual acts. Therefore, if those acts were banned, stigmatized, or simply avoided for a single generation, STD’s would be nearly wiped out. The few cases of STD’s being transferred through drug use or other means wouldn’t keep up enough to make a difference.

But try and present this as a possible solution and you’ll be condemned as an unloving, bigoted, hate-mongering sociopath. “Love is love”, man, or something. For the Left, and increasingly their decade-old clones that are called conservatives, the obvious solution to the problem of sexually-transmitted diseases is unacceptable.

Some of this is tied to the secular humanist notion that we are simply material animals and our instincts and desires serve no higher authority. An even larger part is a misuse of the term “love” to mean “pleasure”. If anyone infected with an STD loved their sexual partners, those partners wouldn’t be sexual.

The great irony in this age of “love is love” is how little love there really is. There’s selfish desire for pleasure in abundance. Just a single generation of men and women who really understood love would result in the extinction of STD’s. We have no such generation. If anything, we’re farther from that sort of thing than we’ve been in centuries.

JK Rowling and the Biblically Iliterate Bible Quotation

The biblically illiterate author of the Harry Potter series, a woman with no experience in foreign policy or the United States government and constitutional law, recently decided to talk about US immigration policy by using Bible quotes:

jk2

This was in response to a tweet from Mike Pence a couple of years ago:

jk1

As Matt Walsh has already put it, brilliantly, anyone who pretends that Trump’s immigration orders were bans on Muslims is a shameless liar. Even if you disagree with the order, that’s not what it is or what it does.

Rowling’s own post, despite making other biblically illiterate liberals happy (by supposedly bashing Pence with his own religion), is so out of context as to be laughable. Here’s the full context, out of Matthew 16:

… Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

“Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Rowling apparently thinks the phrase “gain the whole world” is referring to anything she finds distasteful. This is a common liberal mistake when reading Scripture called eisegesis. The text always means whatever they want it to mean, context be damned.

Of course, the context is the whole point. Jesus isn’t telling His disciples that if they don’t share JK Rowling’s view on a short pause on mass immigration to the United States from a small handful of nations which generate 99.999% of the world’s terrorists that they are trading their soul’s for the whole world. It sounds pretty bizarre when it’s laid out so starkly.

Rowling wasn’t the only one on Twitter who was excited as could be to demonstrate her illiteracy:

jk3

Leviticus, for those who have ever studied it, is a book of law written by Moses under God’s direction for the nation of Israel. This fact often eludes those who want to ignore it’s moral precepts and jump all over it’s specific legal statements (as those in the “God approves of same-sex sexual acts” debate often do).

But the verse itself provides enough context to know that the person who posted it is a dishonest hack. United States citizens were not foreigners in Egypt. The immigration pause from a small set of countries is not mistreating or oppressing foreigners living in the United States.

The context of the verse within the verse itself is enough to reveal that it is not being used properly. As Matt Walsh said, these people are shameless liars.