I was born under a long-named star…

In his latest cartoon my friend Noel, aka DJ Bogtrotter, reminds me of an oddity revealed in this month’s Orange Digital Media Index.

[Disclosure 1: I work for Orange though the-postings-on-this-site-are-my-own-and-dont-necessarily-represent-the-positions-strategies-or-opinions-of-my-employer. Disclosure 2: My employer’s premises are protected by the power of feng shui. Really. Disclosure 3: That last link was to a PDF, sorry.]

Anyway, one of the highlights of the report is about Orange World’s mobile search. It’s up 120% year-on-year, which is a Good Thing. But specifically my colleague Steve Heald says:

“The peaks in search terms provide an interesting cultural snap-shot. For instance, although you’d expect horoscopes to be spread roughly equally, Virgo (the most searched star sign) is searched 15 times more than Sagittarius.

I’ve seen this quirk before in other mobile content data sets, such as the number of customers signing up for horoscope text alerts.

At first it worried me. Like Noel I have a healthy distrust of astrology. No, that’s not true. I believe astrology is complete rubbish. As Arthur C Clarke said, “I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarius and we’re skeptical.”

How could your personality possibly be affected by the position of random patterns of stars in the sky in the twelfth of the year you were born? Surely this would be easily disproved with statistics?

Yet maddeningly here are data points which appear to stand on the side of mumbo jumbo. Not just a little bit one way or the other, easily explained away by slight variations in birth rates through the seasons, but a massively significant 15 times difference between one arbitrarily invented birth cohort and another.

Mercifully we know that correlation does not imply causation. That would be the “cum hoc ergo propter hoc” fallacy, apparently. There must be a third factor at work, and I think I’ve clocked it: Sagittarius is really hard to spell.

  • Is that a double “g” or a double “t”?
  • Is the ending “-ius” or “-ious”?

And if it’s hard to spell just imagine how hard it is to triple-tap on a numeric keypad.

  • It starts with an “s” – one of only two letters that you have to hit four times to access.
  • It has one of those tricky double letters, “tt,” where you have to pause or hit the rocker to avoid entering a “u” by mistake.
  • And it’s 11 characters long, compared to only five for Virgo, the most searched-for star sign.

How do you spot a true-believing winter-born mobilist? Look for the Elastoplast on their thumbs.

Fortunately, as MobHappy reports, qwerty keyboards are on the up. Please do not be alarmed. Rationality will be restored shortly.

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