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Does this graph show that there has been an increase in the number of GoFundMe campaigns relating to sudden deaths, starting at the same time as the authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in the United States.

This is a preliminary analysis of the relationship between mentions of "unexpected or sudden death" in GoFundMe campaigns and widespread immunizations

Source of quote

Link to original graph

Graph

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    A twitter user with 142 followers is not a notable source. If you can find a notable source you should include that. But as of now it doesn't appear to have one.
    – Joe W
    Dec 15, 2022 at 14:21
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    The notability needs to be demonstrated in the question, not just asserted in comments - perhaps as well as quoting the original source, you can point to some prominent places where it is "doing the rounds"? If this is really the source of something that's "gaining traction", I would also expect more than 17 retweets and 7 quote tweets.
    – IMSoP
    Dec 15, 2022 at 14:29
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    I'm not sure what gave you that impression. The requirement to demonstrate notability is mentioned in the Welcome to New Users and spelled out in detail in an FAQ entry and explored in a number of other meta discussions. It is one of the most common reasons for questions being closed on this site.
    – IMSoP
    Dec 15, 2022 at 15:17
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    @AaarghZombies This is not something that can be continued in chat. Either you or someone else needs to provide evidence that this is indeed a "notable claim" or the question will be closed. Counting on someone else to provide this evidence is not a good idea. Continuing the discussion in chat also is not a good idea. Dec 15, 2022 at 16:35
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    FWIW: I did go looking for notability, and couldn't find any.
    – Oddthinking
    Dec 15, 2022 at 16:53

1 Answer 1

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The methodology used to produce these results (Google search and use the number at the top) is about as trustworthy as asking Google to produce a random number between 0 and the number of total gofundme campaigns. The latter at least guarantees you don't overcount, however.

According to Google result counts are a meaningless metric:

Google result counts are a meaningless metric. The count that you are pointing to proves nothing at all. Stop using this meaningless metric and make a proper argument based upon proper research instead.

The basic problem with the Google hit count reported in search results, particularly for phrases and searches using "AND" or "OR" operators, is that it is an estimate. It's not actually a count of anything, at all. It's the result of a calculation based solely upon the words that the query comprises, as Kevin Marks notes. Google explicitly states that it's an estimate [link broken], although it is coy about what that estimate is actually based upon. To quote one un-named Google employee, "these are all estimates, and we just haven't tried that hard to make the estimates precise". A named Google employee said much the same after this frequently given answer had been around for some years

For that broken link see instead this Google Search Appliance PDF which says the same thing.

Search Engine Land also has a good article, though some of the points they raised seem to have be made obsolete by changes to Google (e.g. adding a negative term doesn't seem to increase the number of results anymore).


Google search won't show more than 1,000 results for any search. However, among those results in the 2022 query (tweaked slightly with an additional word to show more variety in the results), I found:

None of these are relevant for what the query is trying to prove.


I'm trying to find results from people who at least tried to do "proper research". For January 1, 2020–July 31, 2020 one paper found 176,561 campaigns that mentioned Covid in some fashion (but may not have mentioned death) but it did not go past that date. It's unclear how they scraped the data, but they did scan all the pages they counted for more data, so we know that each page exists at least.

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    I'm torn, because while this demolishes one aspect of the alleged correlation, I don't think it goes far enough. Even if the hit count issue is addressed, the result still falls at an earlier hurdle. The original (implied) claim is an incredibly blatant post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy: Did the one named vaccine cause the increase? Or another vaccine? Or COVID? Or lock-down laws? Or the increasing popularity of GoFundMe? Or some other confounding factor?
    – Oddthinking
    Dec 15, 2022 at 16:52
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    @Oddthinking I'm not sure that there is an earlier hurdle. It's like asking if the vaccine caused my random number generator to show a higher number when I plugged in the number of gofundme posts for 2022. They're both numbers which may not correspond to actual posts and there is no reliable data that shows an increase. The exact method that generates the estimate in Google is unknown and I don't have anything but speculation as to why it spat out those numbers — the only discovery I've made is that including 2022 in a search makes it estimate a higher number.
    – Laurel
    Dec 15, 2022 at 17:27
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    I can't answer anymore, because the question is locked, but I'm pretty sure that this is just an artifact of google search results. The same behavior as illustrated in the graph is found regardless of the search parameters when searching 'site:gofundme.com "<year>"'
    – DenisS
    Dec 15, 2022 at 21:59
  • @Laurel: I do see your point, but if someone asked that question, I think we would risk of being nerd-sniped if we focussed on going through the details of the algorithm of the RNG, rather than the basic fallacy of thinking.
    – Oddthinking
    Dec 15, 2022 at 23:04
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    @AaarghZombies Downvotes and close votes are two completely different things and should not be confused with one another. Your question wasn't closed because it received downvotes, but because five users of the site voted to close it. I don't know why you're saying there was no effort made to improve the question, because it's perfectly clear from the comments that a) several users have informed you that you need a more notable claim, and b) several of those users have personally attempted to track one down for you.
    – F1Krazy
    Dec 17, 2022 at 17:21

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