Zombie ideas are losing the war for the intertubes

Readers of this blog know that the intermediate disturbance hypothesis (IDH) is a zombie idea that deserves to die. And now users of Google and Wikipedia are increasingly likely to learn the same thing. If you search Google for “intermediate disturbance hypothesis” here’s what you see on the first page of hits (click for larger version):

idh google search

That’s right, my TREE paper attacking the IDH is the first scholarly article to come up in the main list of search results! And a second link to the same paper comes up a bit further down on the first page of results. Thanks, internet! Sadly, my paper is not among the top Google Scholar hits–yet! 🙂

And when you go to the Wikipedia page on the IDH, you find this:

wikipedia idh page

Under “support and critiques”, there’s an entire paragraph devoted almost entirely to my TREE paper. I didn’t write it and don’t know who did. So thanks, anonymous Wikipedia contributor! 🙂

The notion of local-regional richness relationships is another zombie idea. And look what comes up as the very first hit if you google “local-regional richness”:

local-regional richness google search

Clearly, the defenders of zombie ideas need to start blogging. Because slowly but surely, zombie ideas are losing the war for the intertubes. 😉

p.s. I really hope these results don’t reflect Google personalizing its search results for me. That would be a bummer. I don’t think that’s the case, because my post on the zombie local-regional richness relationship is the top hit on Bing and Duck Duck Go as well, despite my never having used either of those search engines before. But personalization of search results may in part explain why my TREE article is one of Google’s top hits for “intermediate disturbance hypothesis”, since on Bing and Duck Duck Go it doesn’t show up until a bit further down in the results.

11 thoughts on “Zombie ideas are losing the war for the intertubes

  1. I can confirm your results. I’ve never searched for IDH or species richness and had your posts show up in the same spot for me on Google.

  2. Same here – your paper is the first article, following the wikipedia page and the encyclopedia.com entry. I clicked through on the link, just for good measure 😉

    • It has occurred to me to ask readers to click links, link back to me, edit Wikipedia, etc. But for the moment I’m just relying on readers to act individually on their own zombie-slaying impulses. 😉

  3. Hrm. I did the search with google scholar and Townsend 1997 came up first. You weren’t on the front page 😦 I redid it with ‘private window’ hiding my history and came up with the same result. (Of course, you’ll be glad to know I haven’t searched the IDH in anytime I can recall to influence the outcome. But I have a long history of searches involving richness.)

    The personalization of searches, based on IP addresses in part, is maddening. The notion that search engines customize based on what an algorithm thinks I want can really prevent people from being good scholars and inhibit open, broad thought. This is a point that’s been well made by others, I find the whole TED talk genre twee and annoying, but there is a good one by Eli Pariser about this.

    • Yes, I also saw that my TREE paper isn’t among the top Google Scholar hits. Presumably has to do with Google Scholar having a different search algorithm than plain ol’ Google web search.

      • oh, yeah! You come up right below the wikipedia entry on my search. That’s mighty cool. Which suggests that, in coming months and years, more citations will be on their way.

  4. Hi Jeremy, an upside-down Google search from the southern hemisphere, on IDH (written in full) puts Wikipedia #1 and your TREE paper #2, and your blog hits #1 for ‘local-regional richness’. So you’re not just in the Canadian Top40. Unfortunately for you, if I use a more ‘plain English’ search written as ‘local vs regional species richness’ (or ‘versus’) you’re not on page 1, but you do come in 1/2 way down page 3. Kind of makes you the Justin Bieber of Top 40 ecology I guess 🙂 Hope you last longer.

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