back to article Google flu-finding service diagnosed with 'big data hubris'

A paper in Science claims that Google Flu Trends, unveiled back in 2008 to become a poster-child of Big Data, has one teeny, tiny, fatal flaw: it's almost always wrong. The paper – abstract here – finds that not only did Flu Trends completely miss the 2009 swine flu, but for 100 of the 108 weeks since 2011, Google's …


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  1. Ole Juul

    Hubris or indifference?

    I'd say both. Since they're working on false assumptions, one might think that they don't care about the voracity of their data input. At least not enough to bother verifying it. Perhaps they should have just called it "Google Fu Trends".

    1. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

      Re: Hubris or indifference?

      @Ole Juul: I suspect s/voracity/veracity/ - where their data input is concerned they are voracious all right, and that is the part they do care about... ;-)

  2. Scoular

    There is a real danger that big data is based on a big assumption.

    That assumption is that out of a mountain of crap you can locate a truth.

    It may not be so and starting with good data may be a much better plan.

  3. Mark 85 Silver badge


    They blew it and yet they continue. Neither Hubris nor Indifference. Probably profit from the advertisements from the flu vaccine and flu symptom drug companies. Yes, I know, flu symptom drugs don't actually cure the flu. Neither do antibiotics but the drug companies make profit from it.

  4. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Its worked out quite well really

    they've basically found acute hypochondria while looking for flu.

  5. David Pollard

    They need a man-cold de-dupe program

    If the urban myth is correct, then perhaps they should de-rate accounts that come from men. And those that are written on Mondays and Fridays.

    1. Bilby

      Re: They need a man-cold de-dupe program

      Almost 40% of sick days are on Monday or Friday. It is scandalous.

  6. Graham Marsden

    In other words...

    Garbage In, Garbage Out.

    As most programers have known for decades...

  7. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    I assumed that a TV documentary about flu would cause a rush of Google queries, without spreading any more flu.

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