Web surfers searching for medical treatments onthe wellness site HealthBase have found some snags in the site's searchengine. According to the site, possible treatments for "Jew" are Dr.Pepper and rock salt.
Thesite, which was meant to utilize cutting-edge technology to help userssearch for information regarding medical conditions, offered suchinteresting parameters as "pros/cons of treatment" in which, if theword "Jew" were entered, such cons as Arab killers and promotingcommunism were listed. The site also cited other drawbacks as "KillJesus" and "Kill Paul."
But users didn't have to enter "Jew" to find problematiccontent - people searching for "causes of AIDS" could find "Jew" fourthon the list, behind "virus," "sexual contact" and "contact infectedpartner."
Although Web wags quickly drew parallels between the site'sboasted "semantic search" and the apparent "anti-Semitic search," otherreligions received equal treatment. The recommended course of treatmentfor "Muslim" included "contraceptives" and "Norplant," and forCatholics, "condom."
The search also entered the range of the completelyabsurd, with the entry "Genghis Kahn" coming up with the recommendeddietary treatment of "yams."
Dietary treatments for Catholics somewhat more logicallyincluded "red wine" and "bread," in an apparent reference to theChurch's sacraments.
But within hours after the buzz began to circlethe Web, one-by-one, weird search results began to disappear from thesite. As of press time, entering "Jew" resulted in a laconic "noresults found," as did "Islam," "Muslim" and "Catholic."
But for those still interested in laughs at the expense of newtechnology tripping over its own shoelaces, "Likud" can be treated withgold, "Labor Party" with free milk, and "Zoroastrians" by the stimulantEphedera, mineral water, saffron and honesty.
Dutch stateman Johan van Oldenbarneveldt (1547-1619) might alsohave been surprised - had he not been a victim of the same procedure -to find himself listed as one possible cause of decapitation. And oneof the "pros" of hemorrhoids is "achieve first sustained nuclearreaction."
HealthBase was not meant to be an Internet entertainer, butrather was set up by parent company NetBase as "a showcase of NetBase'sContent Intelligence for healthcare platform."
According to NetBase, the company's "Content Intelligencetechnology reads every sentence inside documents, linguisticallyunderstands the content and powers breakthrough search experiences thatdeliver highly relevant answers and insights."
Insights, yes. Relevance? Perhaps it's too early to tell.
In the meantime, even before beginning to expunge some of themore obvious search oddities (Barack Obama is also not found), NetBaseresponded to TechCruch's Leena Rao last week, a day after the site waslaunched, telling her that NetBase "is a powerful and automatedtechnology, that when applied to something as messy as the Web, willproduce some amazing results, but also some strange, funny andirrelevant ones. Our first release of HealthBase yesterday surfaced afew embarrassing and offensive bugs. These were far in the minority ofresults but enough to keep us up late improving the site. We sincerelyregret and apologize in particular for any offense caused."
That was last Tuesday, but as of Sunday, Jews were stilltreatable by Dr. Pepper and Taoists by black sesame. NetBase's mediarelations department did not respond to The Jerusalem Post by press time.