The Twitter Report: A Thing of Beauty

The blogger Geoff Ó Laoidhléis is apparently some kind of Twitter detective. I enjoyed his post from December exposing a “pro-life atheist” organization as a probable astroturf group, by observing that the vast majority of their Twitter followers weren’t atheists at all, but Catholics. More recently, he performed the same analysis on an alleged gay pro-life group.

Earlier today, I heard from Geoff on Twitter, with an offer to analyze my followers list – this time, for purely aesthetic purposes – by creating a word cloud of the most frequent words in their biographies. I took him up on that, and I think the result is gorgeous:

(Click for full size.)

Isn’t it amazing what technology can do?

Not only is this picture pretty, I’m very pleasantly surprised by how well it reflects my personality and my interests – even though it’s data about my followers and not about me specifically! I must be doing something right for there to be so many cool and interesting people who care about my 140-character random musings. If you want to help make an even bigger and more colorful word cloud, you can always follow me yourself.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, City of Light, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Hazel

    Isn’t it possible that being pro-life in Ireland would involve talking to Catholics and about Catholics a lot, since Catholics are a big group in Ireland and tend to be the ones involved in anti-abortion advocacy? I don’t think it proves the group is not atheistic.

    Of course, I’m biased, because I am a pro-life atheist. I believe human life starts at conception. Actually, it’s a scientific fact. I also believe the right to life is the most fundamental right. Without life, all the other rights are meaningless. For that reason I think the developing child’s right to life outweighs the mother’s right to freedom of choice. I think we should give more support to pregnant women, both in terms of money and in terms of access to education and job security. Abortion is a bad solution to the problem of childhood poverty, a bad solution to rape and a bad solution to juggling family life and career. As rational people, we should be able to do better than saying ‘kill your children if they are inconvinent for you.”

  • Figs

    Hazel, I’m not ready to say you’re not being entirely forthright, but you’ve got to know that when you say “it’s a scientific fact” to a crowd like this, about something like life beginning at conception, you’re pushing buttons. You must know this. And you must know that there is absolutely no scientific consensus to back up the claim that life begins at conception.

  • Azkyroth

    Of course, I’m biased, because I am a pro-life atheist. I believe blah blah blah blah blah

    Do you support forced kidney donation?

  • http://deusdiapente.wordpress.com J. Quinton

    “Abortion is a bad solution to the problem of childhood poverty, a bad solution to rape and a bad solution to juggling family life and career”

    That’s what contraception is for. If one is pro-life, then it logically follows that one has to be pro widespread contraception availability. Of course, most people aren’t logical…

  • Errant Endeavour

    Well, my bio is a simple ‘I write’ so I don’t think I contributed much to this picture! But looking at it I do see quite a few similarities. Of course, the ones that say ‘dad’, ‘mum’ and ‘beer’, for example don’t apply to me, so it’s not completely accurate. Even still, it is quite remarkable, and is a good way of indicating to atheists who hold the belief that they’re standing in a vacuum aren’t alone – but are a part of a vast community.

    The picture itself I like – mainly because it looks like one of my own drawings (What I do is take the old saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ a bit too literally. I take a thousand words, exactly, and then form them into a picture). This one appeals to me greatly. It takes something as simple as a word cloud and somehow breathes life into it. Of course, I may just be reading too much into it.

  • David Hart

    Hazel:

    As rational people, we should be able to do better than saying ‘kill your children if they are inconvinent [sic] for you.”

    At least try not to pull this dishonest switch. If you are able to tell the difference between a child and an adult, you are more than capable of telling the difference between a foetus and a child. Please stop this bogus equivocation.

    And if you are capable of understanding that we have good reasons for giving adults different rights under the law from children (such as, say, the right to vote, drink alcohol, drive a car and get married) then you are capable of understanding that if you think a foetus should have the same rights under the law as a child, the onus is firmly upon you to provide good reasons for that position.

  • http://geoffsshorts.blogspot.com Geoff

    “Isn’t it possible that being pro-life in Ireland would involve talking to Catholics and about Catholics a lot, since Catholics are a big group in Ireland and tend to be the ones involved in anti-abortion advocacy? I don’t think it proves the group is not atheistic.”

    Hi Hazel, it was a word cloud of the followers’ Twitter biographies, not their tweets. In other words, the word cloud is of the words they use to describe themselves. And this wasn’t the only evidence proffered – perhaps you could reread the blog post?

  • http://avoiceinthewilderness-mcc1789.blogspot.com Michael

    Hazel:

    Even if another individual life begins at conception, under what criteria of rights can one live in another’s body absent their permission? There is none, for it would contradict their own. So the question for me is not when life begins-rather, when does an entity have the right to it? Judith Jarvis Thomson’s “A Defense of Abortion” goes into into more detail. http://spot.colorado.edu/~heathwoo/Phil160,Fall02/thomson.htm

  • Pattrsn

    “I believe human life starts at conception. Actually, it’s a scientific fact.”

    This appears to be the new anti-choice meme. I have yet to hear an explanation as to what that actually means, or how you infer from that statement that women should be subjected to forced pregnancies.

    “As rational people, we should be able to do better than saying ‘kill your children if they are inconvinent for you.””

    I’m pretty sure no one espousing pro choice is advocating the killing of children. If you’ve come across this maybe you could supply us with a link.

  • Nathaniel

    @Hazel,
    Please, if you’re going to do this, at least try to come up with some thought in your arguments. Your been there done that BS is tiring.

  • Azkyroth

    And if you are capable of understanding that we have good reasons for giving adults different rights under the law from children (such as, say, the right to vote, drink alcohol, drive a car and get married) then you are capable of understanding that if you think a foetus should have the same rights under the law as a child, the onus is firmly upon you to provide good reasons for that position.

    Of course, a born child doesn’t have the right to use someone else’s body without their consent, either.

  • http://geoffsshorts.blogspot.com Geoff

    “Isn’t it possible that being pro-life in Ireland…”

    I just had to come back to this question by Hazel. I’ve been looking at pro life groups in Ireland for some time now, and I’m finding the following:

    Judging by Twitter they’re overwhelmingly American. The two biggest are Youth Defence (only 14% Irish followers, 60% North American) and Pro Life Campaign (70% US, 10% Irish). Facebook stats back this up too.

    They’re overwhelmingly Republican conservatives, being vastly more likely to follow Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan than any Irish politician. Despite their “Love them both” slogans, only 11 (total, not per cent) of them follow Ireland’s largest rape crisis centre.

    They’re funded through groups such as http://www.lifehouseireland.org.

    I think America’s a great country – I’ve visited New York, Boston, Michigan and will be in Florida this year. But I’m afraid like anywhere you have a few crazies, and they’re rather picking on Ireland. At present, if a doctor performs an abortion to save the life of a woman, the doctor risks jail time. Our constitution contains a clause saying such actions are legal, but every time we try to get legislation in to bring it in to effect certain parties block it. It’s been 21 years.

    From what I can tell, pro lifers in the States consider Ireland a shining example because abortion is completely illegal, and they seem to want to keep it that way.

    Apologies for the disjointed rant, and sincere thanks to Adam for linking to my blog :)

  • Derek

    Can this imaged be used, say on twitter or facebook, or are sharing rights restricted?

  • http://geoffsshorts.blogspot.com Geoff

    I’ve certainly no issues with it being used, but I’d see that more as a question for Adam.

  • Adam Lee

    I have no objection if Geoff doesn’t – it’s his work, after all.


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