Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion, SUNY 2003Frank Visser, graduated as a psychologist of culture and religion, founded IntegralWorld in 1997. He worked as production manager for various publishing houses and as service manager for various internet companies and lives in Amsterdam. Books: Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion (SUNY, 2003), and The Corona Conspiracy: Combatting Disinformation about the Coronavirus (Kindle, 2020).


Interest in Ken Wilber

Worldwide and US Google Trends

Frank Visser

I am sure everone of you has typed the name of Ken Wilber in Google. How many pages about Ken Wilber does Google have in its database by now?

Be sure to add quotes around "Ken Wilber" when you do this search, otherwise you will also count all other Kens and other Wilbers. The result as of april 2010 is:

Of course, many persons go by the name of Ken Wilber, so we should add something that is distinctive of "our" Ken Wilber. I would suggest adding "integral":

How does this compare to, say, ten years ago?

One or the many useful features of Google is Google Insights for Search. It gives information about search trends over the past few years, which can visualized per city and region. These indicators often are predictive for worldwide interest, and even the future succes of trends and products.

When I looked for the search volume trends for the search phrase "ken wilber", I was in for a surprise. Since 2004 interest in Ken Wilber has been on the decline. And not only in a mild way, but with huge leaps. Comparing 2004 to 2010 we now have only 20% of the online interest left:

Fig. 1 - Worldwide Google search volume for "ken wilber" in 2004-2010

Note: numbers on the Y-axis are indexed to 100 and do not represent actual searches. This Google service apparently started in 2004.

Filtering these data on regions, another surprise awaits us. Where's the epicenter of interest in Ken Wilber? The Bay Area of course, but then we get a Swiss and Austrian city, then Santiago de Chili and Amsterdam, before we get to Los Angeles again, and even Madrid and Warshaw are before New York:

Fig. 2 - Worldwide Google search volume for "ken wilber" in 2004-2010 - filtered on city

And filtering the search results on region gives about the same picture, but now Switzerland wins. What's going on there high up in the mountains?:

Fig. 3 - Worldwide Google search volume for "ken wilber" in 2004-2010 - filtered on region

What to make of these data? Interest in Wilber is no longer a US-only affair, for sure. But can we say these other countries have surpassed the United States? Or has interest in Wilber declined in the US, compared to the other countries?

Filtering for Wilber-interest in the United States only, we see the following pattern:

Fig. 4 - Google search volume for "ken wilber" in 2004-2010 - United States

Again, compared to a peak in 2004, we are now at the 20% level of interest. We can even recognize the Wyatt Earp episode, in mid-2006. But further decline seems a consistent trend.

Is integral studies perhaps no longer a Ken Wilber-only affair and has interest shifted to "integral" studies and applications? Unfortunately, it isn't easy to find a trend for "integral anything" in Google—not enough search volume.

Filtering the United States on region (state), we see this picture. Yes, the epicenter of interest in Ken Wilber is still Colorado, but it is followed by Oregon (?) and Washington (?), before California:

Fig. 5 - Google search volume for "ken wilber" in 2004-2010 - United States per state

And per US city:

Fig. 5 - Google search volume for "ken wilber" in 2004-2010 - United States per city

Denver, fine, but... Pleasanton, even bigger than San Francisco? Now I am lost... Oh, that's near SF.

Still, I am left with the feeling: are we witnessing an integral or at least Wilberian "cooling" of the planet? Who's into Wilberian demography and climatology?

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