Next, we’re not going to let you search on “drug”

Health Database Was Set Up to Ignore ‘Abortion’ – New York Times

Librarians at the Medical Center of the University of California, San Francisco, expressed concern about the restrictions this week after they had difficulty retrieving articles from Popline.

In an e-mail response on Tuesday, Johns Hopkins told the librarians that “abortion” was no longer a valid search term.

“We recently made all abortion terms stop words,” Debra L. Dickson, a Popline manager, wrote. “As a federally funded project, we decided this was best for now.”

Obviously the people who made this decision should never work in the information-retrieval field again, but it kinda makes you think in general about how much control the people who run database searches have over the information that can be retrieved. It’s a lot like Stalin’s line about the people who count the votes.


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