Seth has used Google searches, and other Big Data sources, to learn more about human behavior.   He has presented his ideas both in scientific manuscripts and as data journalism.  His c.v. can be downloaded here


  • The Cost of Racial Animus on a Black Candidate: Evidence Using Google Data (paper; New York Times op-ed)

    • I introduce a new measure of racism in different parts of the United States based on Google searches. I argue that racism cost Obama far more votes than previously realized.

  • The Demographics of an Online Hate Site (New York Times op-ed)

    • I study age, gender, location, and other information from profiles of Stormfront, the most popular American hate site. There was no increase in membership due to exposure to the Great Recession.

  • Self-Induced Abortion (New York Times op-ed)

    • Interest in self-induced abortion has tracked abortion restrictions.

  • Islamophobic Google Searches and Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes (w/ Evan Soltas) (New York Times op-ed) (Notes) (Paper forthcoming)

    • We find, using 2004-2013, weekly data, Google Islamophobic searches can predict anti-Muslim crime.

  • Sex (New York Times op-ed)

    • Maybe if we worried less about sex, we'd have more of it.

  • Treatment for Depression in Different States (New York Times op-ed)

    • Red states use therapy less; red and blue states take anti-depressants at similar rates.

  • How Many Gay Americans Are There? (slides, notes, New York Times op-ed)

    • I study 6 datasets, including Facebook profiles and Google searches. I find consistent evidence that roughly 5 percent of American men are gay, with intolerance driving more than half into the closet.

  • Parental Concerns of Sons vs. Daughters (New York Times op-ed)

    • Google searches suggest parents have different concerns for male and female children. They are more excited by the intellectual potential of their sons. They are more concerned about the weight and appearance of their daughters.

  • Racism and Health (Many co-authors; Lead Author: David H. Chae) (paper)

    • We find a correlation between an area's racism -- as measured by Google searches -- and the black-white mortality gap.

  • Unreported Victims of an Economic Downturn (paper, New York Times op-ed)

    • Official data says that the Great Recession reduced child abuse. I argue, using Google searches and other evidence, that actual child abuse rates rose, while reporting rates plummeted.

  • Anxiety (New York times op-ed, notes)

    • Many major terrorist attacks aren't followed by a rise in Google searches for anxiety. Opiates may have played a major role in the rise of panic attacks in the United States.

  • Weather and Depression (New York Times op-ed)

    • Google searches suggests climate is a major factor in depression.

  • Pregnancy Around the World (notes, New York Times op-ed)

    • Google searches suggest that pregnant women around the world have similar symptoms and crave similar things. But they differ in the fears about what they are not allowed to do.

  • Super Returns to Super Bowl Ads (w/ Hal Varian and Michael Smith) (paper)

    • Do ads work? We utilize a quasi-natural experiment from the Super Bowl: the home cities of the teams that qualify will watch the game -- and thus the ads -- in much higher numbers. We find that the movies in our sample experience on average incremental opening weekend ticket sales of about $8.4 million from a $3 million Super Bowl advertisement.

  • What Age Hooks Us on a Baseball Team? (notes, New York Times op-ed)

    • I download age-specific fans for every baseball team from Facebook. I then study how a team's performance at every year of your childhood influences your probability of supporting them as an adult. The key years in a boy's life are 8 to 12. A team's winning a World Series when a boy is 8 increases the probability he supports them as an adult by about 8 percent.

  • The Geography of Fame (w/ big help from Noah Stephens-Davidowitz) (New York Times op-ed)

    • I study the probability of reaching Wikipedia by county of birth for all American Baby Boomers. I find that children of immigrants born in cities or college towns are the most likely to live lives that are deemed notable.

  • Race of Basketball Fandom (New York Times op-ed)

    • Using data from Facebook, I find that, compared to white players who are similar on paper, black players have more fans.

  • Where Do NBA Players Come From? (New York Times op-ed)

    • I find, contrary to conventional wisdom, that poor socioeconomic status is a major hindrance to reaching the NBA.

  • Political Nepotism (New York Times op-ed)

    • The upper echelons of politics has a higher father-son correlation than other fields.

  • Who Will Vote? Ask Google (paper; New York Times op-ed)

    • I find that Google searches for "vote" or "voting" in October can predict election turnout in November. I discuss how we can use this data to learn more about the determinants of voting.

  • Google Trends: A Primer for Social Scientists (w/ Hal Varian) (paper)

    • We discuss ways for social scientists to make use of Google data.

  • Encouraging Homeownership Through the Tax Code (w/ Bill Gale & Jon Gruber) (paper)

    • We propose a tax credit to replace the mortgage interest deduction. We argue that this would better encourage homeownership while being far more progressive.

MEDIA (selected)


Racial Animus (Google Search Data)

  • Racial Animus, by DMA (csv, notes)

  • Racial Animus and Great Recession (csv, notes)

  • IAT, Google, and Obama (csv)

Music Popularity by Age When It Comes Out

  • Spotify song popularity by age and gender (csv, R code)

Self-Induced Abortion

Islamophobia (Google Search Data and Hate Crimes) (w/ Evan Soltas)

  • Searches for "Muslims kill" versus "What do Muslims believe?" before and after San Bernardino attack (csv, notes)

  • Searches for "Muslim Terrorists," "Muslims Athletes," and "Muslim Soldiers," for week of San Bernardino attacks and Obama speech (csv, notes)

  • Weekly Lasso Analysis (code, csv, notes)

  • Monthly Islamophobia and Anti-Islamic Hate Crimes (csv, notes)

  • Weekly Islamophobia and Anti-Islamic Hate Crimes (csv, notes)

  • Islamophobia, in High Muslim Counties vs. Entire USA (csv, notes)

  • Syrian Refugees Searches - Pre and Post Paris (xls, notes)

  • Mosque Searches - Pre and Post San Bernardino (xls, notes)

Super Bowl Advertising

Candidate Order and Voting

  • "Romney Obama" versus "Obama Romney" (csv)

  • "Trump Clinton" versus "Clinton Trump" (csv)

Fame and Nepotism (Largely from Wikipedia)


  • Pregnancy Data (csv)

Sexuality (Google Searches and Other Sources, for Gay Rates)

Religion (Google Searches)

  • Religion Data (csv)

Depression (Google Searches and Other Sources)

  • Depression Data, by State (csv)

  • Blue State/Red State Favorite Celebrities and Whether They Said They Entered Therapy (csv)

  • Google Searches, by Day of Year (csv, notes)

Basketball Fandom

  • Racial Breakdown of Fans on Facebook (csv, code)

NBA Socioeconomics (Various Sources)

  • Names of California-Born NBA Players (csv, notes)

  • NBA Players, by Race and County of Birth (csv)

  • County Data: NBA Players Produced and Black and White Births (csv)

  • Parents of NBA Players, Top 100 Scoring Black Players (csv)

Childhood Experiences and Adult Preferences (Facebook Profiles)

  • Baseball Fans, by Team and Age (csv, notes)

Child Abuse (Google Searches)

  • Kids Searching For Child Abuse, by Week (csv)

  • Searches Suspecting Child Abuse, by State and Year (forthcoming)


  • Dead Baby Jokes and Infant Mortality Rate (csv)

  • New York City jokes and weather (csv,notes)

  • Boston Jokes searches after Marathon Bombing (csv)

Stormfront -- The Data of Hate (Scraped Profiles)

  • Stormfront Members Per Capita, by State (csv, notes)

  • Stormfront Members Pre and Post Recession, by State (csv, notes)

  • Stormfront New American Members, by Day (csv, notes)

  • Stormfront New Total Members, by Day (csv)