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In reference to the email quoted results below, it is a good thing that Larry bought an island. It will be a safer place for his grave site after he croaks, which will be sooner rather than later. After all, 'wie man in den Wald hineinruft, so schallt es heraus'

"Jobs is the least assholy in relation to his overall popularity, Eisner is about 50% more so, and Ellison pegs the meter at 25 to 35 times more assholy with respect to popularity than Jobs."

Bob Sutton

Ken Cliffer just sent me this response, which is not only enlightening, it shows that yours truly could be winner of asshole ratio... I hope people don't start calling me "Your Asshoilness," someone already called me "Bob Sutton, the master of the asshole." I thank Ken for working so hard on the response. To quote Ken:

“Sagacious Coward” is correct. I did not use quotes on the names in my searches, which made them less specific for the particular people. It makes more sense to narrow the searches appropriately using the quotes. When I use quotes, I get some different numbers from “Sagacious,” but generally consistent (now that the percents are down, the results are essentially the same for the percent or the ratio method; only percents are presented here):

Executive Percent asshole/general hits

Steve Jobs 131,000/19,300,000 = ~ 0.68%

Michael Eisner 858/518,000 = ~ 0.17%

Larry Ellison 628/917,000 = ~ 0.069%

(Interestingly, I sometimes get slightly different numbers of hits for the same searches done repeatedly within a matter of seconds.)

Now, a few substantial caveats:

1) If you use variations on the names, the results vary considerably:

Steven Jobs 568/127,000 = ~ 0.45%

Mike Eisner 79/9790 = ~ 0.81%

Lawrence Ellison 61/45,100 = ~ 0.135%

For these names, Eisner “beats” Jobs, for either of Jobs's names. Using these indices, Ellison indeed has the lowest index using any names for him and the others. However, the variation resulting from different names for the same people helps to invalidate the technique as anything very meaningful.

2) If you use the same technique on other high-profile names, with various types of images and reputations, you get generally similar results, with the results and variation again indicating that this technique may not be a good one for assessing true assholiness in any meaningful sense, even assholiness relative to popularity. Alternatively, it would mean expanding the meaning of "assholiness" well beyond what you intended or how most people consider it. Apparently any high-profile figure attracts a wide range of discussion that uses this term (or other negative terms), in various ways, and not always applied directly to the subject of the search. In descending order, they are (note the two names tried for Gates):

Buddha 247,000/24,300,000 = ~ 1.02%

Bill Gates 204,000/23,300,000 = ~ 0.88%

Jesus 1,240,000/152,000,000 = ~ 0.82%

Allah 233,000/30,500,000 = ~ 0.76%

William Gates 1,120/175,000 = ~ 0.64%

Oprah Winfrey 87,400/2,200,000 = ~ 0.40%

God 1,540,000/407,000,000 = ~0.38%

3) Consistent with the idea that the above makes the method largely irrelevant as a good index of true relative assholiness in any meaningful way, I agree that your high index is due to your having written about the topic, rather than any character feature of yours. By the way, for different versions of your name, I get these (the variation again helping to invalidate the method as anything very useful):

Robert Sutton 14,700/123,000 = ~ 12.0%

Robert I. Sutton 50,600/178,000 = ~ 28.4%

Bob Sutton 200,000/378,000 = ~ 52.9%

Note that the last one would give an asshole/non-asshole ratio of 200,000/178,000 = ~ 112% (it’s no longer a small percent for which the ratio and percent are roughly equal).


Bob - perhaps the results are skewed by the fact that, though an asshole, Steve Jobs is generally more respected and highly regarded than Larry Ellison. Steve is forgiven by the public for being an asshole and Larry is not. Therefore there are more non-asshole hits for Jobs. (not scientific - just a point that might underscore your view that our society tends to forgive assholes if they are really creative)

Bob Sutton

Dear Sagacious,

Thanks for speedy analysis..indeed, things seem murky now.


sagacious coward

Being a scientist, I felt the experiment needed to be verified. Using quoted names, here is what is get:

Steve Jobs: 136,000 / 20,600,000 = 0.66%
Michael Eisner = 853 / 518,000 = 0.16%
Larry Ellison = 636 / 839,000 = 0.08%

Different results occur if you do not put quotes around the name of the individual. According to my informal test, Steve Jobs is still #1.

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