Fun with Google

One of the effects of academia, especially philosophy, having moved so quickly to establish a presence online is that philosophers can have strikingly high Google rankings. Since a high Google ranking is to the 21st century what an ancient title was to the 20th century, this is worth some note. Obviously most philosophers, except those with particularly common names, are the first Google hit if you search their full name. The issue is how high up you are if you search just one of their names. For instance,

  • Benj is both the first Benj and the first Hellie, which is quite a feat
  • Ishani is the second Ishani, and the third Maitra

On the slightly less impressive front (though we can work on improvements!) we have

This is mostly to be filed under weekend frivolity, but while I’m here I should note the papers blog has been updated.

7 Replies to “Fun with Google”

  1. Brian,

    Thanks for this new distraction. A ratio-based measure could handle the common names, too. In my case, 67th of 502,000,000 hits for ‘Price’ — a hits-to-ranking ratio of (ahem) 7,492,537! — surprised me a lot more than 1st of a mere 597,000 for ‘Huw’.


  2. I agree with Huw Price. In my case, I am 7th out of 1.35 million hits for the query “Branden”. That’s a hits-to-ranking ratio of around 193,000. Not surprisingly, I’m #1 for “Fitelson” (there are but a handful of those in the world!). So, that’s hits-to-ranking ratio of merely 8000 or so.

    Just to put things in perspective, John Kerry has an HTRR of around 265 million!

  3. Taking into consideration not just the number of hits, but the strength of the competition, here’s an impressive Google showing for a philosopher: Brian Leiter shares a last name with a star major league baseball player [Al Leiter, who’s been one of the best players (maybe the best) for a major media market team — the New York Mets — in recent years – though he’s just been traded], yet when you Google “Leiter”, it’s Brian’s blog that comes up first.

  4. From the google hierarchy to the politics of citation:

    Well, well. This practice of philosophy professors checking their google rankings, is further evidence for my thesis that in philosophy ‘gossip’ not only helps to build and propagate ‘schools of thought’ but is also necessary for establishing the proper hierarchy.

    But one small complaint. My first name is ‘Jerry’ my last name is ‘Monaco’. If I google both names I am first. But no matter how famous I become the country of ‘Monaco’ and many of its related sites and travel destinations is going to score higher than any individual named ‘Monaco.’ Also, unless I can beat out such luminaries as ‘Jerry’ Springer I will never hit the top of the list with my first name either.

    So perhaps I should change my name to something more unusual, say ‘Chomsky’? The reason I bring him up is that he once said that the counting of citations was one of those absurd things that academia fosters. He is usually one of the most cited of names among contemporary intellectuals. But so is Fidel Castro. If you look at the politics of citations what is really there? Nothing but an econometrics of academic hierarchy. Chomsky pointed out that if you looked at the majority of his citations for any given period, as one of his students absurdly took the time to do, you would see that most of them were pure invective.

    A law school professor once told me that law professors usually have more citations than other professors have because every law school has at least one non-peer reviewed journal and law professors do nothing but cite each other all the time.

    Jerry Monaco
    New York City
    14 Feb. 2005
    His Blog
    Shandean Postscripts to Politics & Culture at

  5. Dear Mr. Monaco,

    I very much enjoyed your piece on lawyers and Bleak House. Do you have any thoughts on how I might get my hands on a transcript of Paul Raffield’s talk or anything he has written along these lines? I would be greatly appreciative of any assistance you might provide.

    My email address is

    Rick Rolf

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