Censorship fun!

James Annan, via Tom Adams, finds that the White House search engine has hits on “global warming” deliberately removed. Such fun.

Since they are almost bound to get embarassed by this and fix it, the current result for searching the Whitehouse is:

Search whitehouse.gov by keyword

Results for: "global warming"

1 results found, sorted by relevance 	sort by date 	  	hide summaries 		 1-1  	

fl~ 1S ~C Page Ilof 3 RECORD TYPE: FEDERAL (NOTES MIIAL) CREATOR: Kamerafl L. Onley ( CN= Kamerafl Lonley/OU= CEQ/O= EOP[
CEQI CREATION DATE/TIME: 2OAPR-2003 13: 45: 16.00 SUBJECT:: TO: "Douglas_ Onley/HQ/UIMC. UIMC"@...
http://www.whitehouse.gov/ceq/foia/rcec/arms46.pdf - 107.5KB 

ps: Thanks to S/S/D for the interesting discussion on Stomata in the comments on the AR4 leak post. Will pull out into post soon.

[Update: based on comments elsewhere, it looks rather like the problem is case: “Global Warming” returns 100 odd results. Wot a cr*p search engine they have. This despite the fact that their help says lowercase will match anycase http://www.whitehouse.gov/help/?la=en&text=0 -W]


  1. #1 Tim Murtaugh

    On the other hand, search for “climate change” — 641 results found.

  2. #2 Gavin

    Try “issue of global” and the first thing that comes up is President Bush’s Rose Garden speech of June 2001 talking about what they are doing on climate change. Try “issue of global warming” and you get zip, despite the fact that “warming” was indeed the next word said….

  3. #3 Eli Rabett

    437 hits in google if you restrict the search to whitehouse.gov. 983 on climate change w. appropriate “”

  4. #4 Mark Hadfield

    “Thanks to S/S/D for the interesting discussion on Stomata in the comments on the AR4 leak post.”

    The Stoat is a cryptic animal…

    Or, in other words, what on earth are you talking about?

  5. #5 Hank Roberts

    Posted at Tom Adams’s page (Annan’s is giving me a 404 not found for its image verification, and also for its audio/handicapped verification, right now):

    Check the Internet Archive. None of the archived pages I checked showed anything but that one Soon/Baliunas Harvard article for a search for “global warming” — going back years.

    I didn’t take time to exhaustively check all the archive or check prior administrations’ dates to see if anything was actually removed –=– this is left as an exercise for any very bored journalist with good clerical help.

    Could be that string has simply never been findable but for that one article, at the White House pages. No there there.

    Interesting to compare to Scientific American’s blog search, which shows “global warming” is one of the most searched-for terms by all visitors.

    Wanta bet lots of people do look for it? Only the White House webmaster would know, I suppose.

  6. #6 Raines Cohen

    Wouldn’t White House web stats/search log summaries be public records subject to FOIA request?

    Click on my name below for further discussion on this topic on daily Kos, where the leading theories are that it’s just search-engine-design issues.

  7. #7 James Annan

    While I am not much of a tech geek, I do not believe that your dailyKos commenter’s suggestion holds water.

    In detail: the html tags in the URLs I used are due to the fact that I searched on the exact phrase “global warming”, rather than individual words “global” and/or “warming”. Since the search engine works on absolutely every other phrase (ie, returns very similar words to google) but not for “global warming” it is hard to explain as a malfunction. What exactly is the reason for

    global warming” failure but
    axis of evil” working correctly?

    Both searches look for the exact phrase. It is specifically and uniquely the former search that fails spectacularly, of all the ones that have been tested (to my knowledge).

    [As I understand it the Kos folks are suggesting the whitehouse search is based on tags, not on text. I don’t understand why this is described as “the consensus explanation” though as it appears to be held by one person. It also doesn’t explain why various combinations of words unlikely to make it as tags work as search terms -W]

  8. #8 pough

    I wonder if they replace “global warming” with “climate change” before the search is done. You know, to help you get with the times. “Global warming” is a deprecated phrase, even though lots of documents still have it.

  9. #9 Tom Adams

    The Office of the White House is exempt from the FOIA (if you can believe there web site):


    Congress has oversight rights and responsibilites. So contact your representatives and tell them to investigate. I have already contacted mine.

  10. #10 Tom Adams

    pough: “global warming” is in very recent documents at http://www.whitehouse.gov. Tony Snow has used the phrase a number of times in January. You just can’t find them using the search. “Global warming” may be less scientific and more a layman’s term, but its not deprecated.

    Republican strategist Frank Luntz did advise Republicans to use “climate change” instead a few years ago because it less scary.

  11. #11 Hank Roberts
  12. #12 John Fleck

    Tom –

    Worth noting, while you’re contacting your representative, that Congress itself is also exempt from the U.S. federal Freedom of Information Act. So you might want to tack that onto your request.

  13. #13 nc

    “Update: based on comments elsewhere, it looks rather like the problem is case: “Global Warming” returns 100 odd results. Wot a cr*p search engine they have.”

    Reminds me of visiting the enormous Victorian SRIS library (Science Reference and Information Service) at Chancery Lane, London, around 1995. The lady at the enquiry desk using an old terminal was new and thought the search engine could handle bad typing. Each customer took about half an hour to get basic information, and the queue was stretched a long way. By the time I got to the desk, it was closing time.

    (SRIS in Holborn has now long closed and been incorporated within the new British Library building at St Pancras, of course. They obviously have better computer catalogues now, but the whole science library is now one small room with very little shelf space compared to the old SRIS building. You can no longer browse most of the books, but have to request them, the older periodicals and books are now all stored at a warehouse in Boston Spa and is sent down overnight so there are enormous delays. There is a better science selection for browsing on the shelf at almost any university physics library than at the BL now.)

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