Thursday 30 December 2010

Atlas Moments revisited

I'd spent a bit of time last year arguing that the whole "going Galt" thing was overblown: that there was no evidence of any huge resurgence of interest in Ayn Rand's ideas with the recent economic crisis. Or, at least there was no evidence of it in Google search traffic data.

Now Google's released Ngram: a search tool that checks the relative frequency of different terms found in books scanned by Google, sorted by date. Unfortunately it only goes up through 2008 so we can't fully verify what was in the search traffic. But here's the Ngrams.

First, Rand by herself.

Book mentions of Rand peak in 2001 and are reasonably down by 2008.

Objectivism peaks in the mid 1990s.

And while Rand is doing better relative to Marx, that's mainly due to the latter's strong decline since the 1980s.

I'll expect that there's a mild upswing for Rand in 2008-2009 once that data comes out, but that there was no Atlas Moment.


  1. They claimed book sales were up significantly.

  2. Yup. But I'd want to know whether sales of Marx and such went up proportionately. Economic crises boost demand for heterodoxy of all sorts.