A while back we looked at the geographic breakdown of the data: Iranians Curious About â€?Bahaiâ€?, Americans Not. I decided to go back and take a look at the pattern of search results for Baha’i.
Since Google is the king of internet when it comes to search, I was somewhat saddened to see that the number of worldwide searches for the keyword, “Baha’i” is continuing to decline. The chart below is from Google Insight for Search and it shows the incidence of people searching for the word Bahai on Google:
Since 2004 (the farthest Google has data) there has been a consistent decline in the number of Google searches for the term Baha’i. By the way, alternative spellings such as “bahai” provide the same results – Google is smart like that. Since Google loves numbers more than the Count, they crunch the numbers to come up with a short term forecast one year ahead (not visible in the chart above). Based on their forecast, the search index will decline from 39 (May 2010) to 33 in June 2011. You can see the chart including the forecast here.
To get some perspective we can compare this to, say, the term “Islam”. For starters, Islam’s index is flat, indicating a consistent level of online search interest. But I didn’t show the two together because there is so much more interest in the term “Islam” that the two plotted together on one index makes “Baha’i”‘s index basically unreadable.
Searching for other religions is also interesting. For example, the keyword “Judaism” shows a similar decline in popularity but the amount of search is higher than Baha’i. As well, there is an annual peak of interest that centers around Yom Kippur – the holiest of Jewish religious holidays.
So what inferences can we draw from this?
For starters, it is important to realize the importance of the internt. The reality is that the internet is a now an integral part of life in most developed countries. And with time, the integration and usefulness of the internet is only growing. So on the one hand, this trend tells us that within the Western, or wealthy nations, there is a decline in interest.
Considering the significant correlation between religiosity and wealth that isn’t surprising. As well, the Baha’i world center has for some time now targeted the less developed nations and developed programs such as Ruhi specifically to gain inroads within them.